‘Tweetube’: Double-Track Communication in Bullet Curtain Websites
Bullet curtain websites enable viewers to overlay their comments onto uploaded video content. Displayed from right-to-left across the screen, this commentary subtitling resembles a ‘bullet curtain’, so named after bullet curtain games. The experience approximates what it might be like to post tweets on top of YouTube videos. Bullet curtain websites enhance audience engagement with both video and textual elements through two-way communication: When viewers find themselves inspired by a video’s content, they may post their thoughts on this, thereby partaking of intrapersonal communication; after reading these comments, other viewers may react and share their opinions by adding further commentary, a process that belongs to the category of interpersonal communication. These websites facilitate both the recreation of content, and interaction among viewers. Such two-way communication diminishes the physical barriers between viewers and creates a ‘virtual tribe’ viewing experience. This paper discusses the subcultural origins of the bullet curtain website to explain its social and cultural roots. The author conducted the study in China and surveyed 413 bullet curtain users, in order to understand the process and effects of such two-way communication.
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