Cinephilia and online communities
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The accelerated development of digital media over the past few decades has led to a theoretical overhaul of media classification. The rise of the Internet has been designated as a historical dividing point between the age of ‘old’ media and that of ‘new’ media. Old media are unified objects of transmission, and new media are digitally converted and integrated media experiences enabled by the Internet and other digital technology. A debate currently wages over new media’s potential for meaningful positive change. Advocates argue that the transition to digital media signals a force for globalism and democracy, whereas skeptics see little evidence for these claims. However, the progressivism of new media comes into clearer focus when applied to a narrow field of study. The proposed research integrates new media and film studies, focusing on cinephilia, a mode of film consumption that has blended a lofty passion for cinema with intellectual engagement with film history and scholarship. Drawing on the new media concepts of the online knowledge community, weak-tie activism, and peer production, this paper argues that online interactivity, the diminishment of costs for mass organization, and the ease with which films can be digitally circulated have had a substantial progressive impact on cinephilia. The research also touches on the overlooked communal and organizational capabilities of online file sharing, a practice which remains simplistically assessed in terms of its legality.