Digital representations of food (food texts) have become mainstream content on social media sites and digital streaming sites. While they accomplish some similar goals to their analog counterparts (e.g. in-print cookbooks), like communicating information about the food’s preparation or what its consumption would be like, the surplus of food texts has been ushered in by a transformation of media infrastructure such as the internet, cameras on cheap mobile phones, and digital social network platforms. The creators of the bulk of food texts have shifted from authority figures in the field to anyone who dines out and goes online. With this shift in media ownership comes a change in status — from expert to everyone. As a result, the dynamics of food discourse has also changed. I use interviews and ethnographies with fine dining chefs, food industry professionals, and media makers to illustrate these convergences and divergences in the creation and consumption of food texts today. TL;DR: While the underlying purpose of the construction and consumption of food texts remain the same from analog to digital form, the authority of food culture and its complimentary narrative control has shifted as a result of the convergence of food texts and digital media affordances.
About Vicky Zeamer
My passions fall more in the realm of human-centered design. I have spent my previous education and work experience in the tech industry, specifically focusing on how user experience (UX) can help guide the development of technology to be better for people and society. At MIT, I earned my M.Sc. in Comparative Media Studies where I wrote my thesis on how the dining out food industry shifted in response to the proliferation of digital food culture on Web 1.0 & 2.0. I earned my B.A. at Wellesley College where I studied both how people and societies function and create culture (American Studies) and how computer science and design could be leveraged for innovation (Media Arts and Sciences).
I am currently a UX Research role at HubSpot in Cambridge, a software company dedicated to helping small and medium-sized businesses grow through an online marketing and sales platform. I sit as a user-centered researcher within the Machine Learning (ML) engineering team where my main focus is to gather insights about our users and strategize how to create ML-enabled solutions for our customers. Being at the intersection of technology and people is really my sweet spot.