The passion and pleasure of information sharing in pottery practice
Introduction. The paper reports selective findings from a broader study about information behaviour in the context of the pottery hobby as a form of serious leisure. Among all the information activities in this context, the paper focuses on the affective and emotional aspects of information sharing.
Method. The Serious Leisure Perspective (SLP) is the theoretical framework of the study. The required data were collected via a purposeful and criteria-based sampling method. A sample of user-generated content (UGC) on YouTube was collected to form the dataset.
Analysis. The collected data were analysed through inductive content analysis to identify patterns of embedded concepts and themes in the dataset.
Results. Seven categories were identified. These categories summarise the major emotional reactions that viewers expressed and shared in their comments: (1) amazement, (2) excitement, (3) gratitude, (4) joyfulness, (5) admiration, (6) serenity, (7) inspiration. The overall ambience of the videos and commenters’ reactions were positive and joyful.
Conclusions. The paper concludes that information sharing on a popular hobby via a publicly available platform, like YouTube, can evoke a range of positive emotions and establish social bonds. These social ties are the building blocks to form communities of interest and communities of practice to produce and share information on the chosen activity.
Pottery is an ancient art of forming clay containers in various shapes such as pots, bowls, vessels, or other objects and heating them to high temperatures in a bonfire, kiln, or oven. Pottery is a popular hobby for many people worldwide as a form of serious leisure (Stebbins, 1982, 2007). Those interested in this hobby need to seek information about various aspects of this practice, such as source material, shaping methods, baking techniques, firing stages, decoration styles, glazing, etc. Moreover, they need to develop a range of specific skills such as carving, cutting, decorating, glazing, painting, casting, coiling, kneading, etc. Therefore, it is a very information-intensive context, and potters are actively engaged in information seeking, sharing and producing.
The paper reports selective findings from a broader study about information behaviour in this hobby. Among all the information activities in this context, it focuses on the emotional and affective aspects of information sharing. The study aimed to discover to what extent pottery as a hobby inspires people to seek and share information about their interests and what are their emotional reactions to the shared information. The Serious Leisure Perspective (SLP) is the study’s theoretical framework. Serious leisure includes amateurism, hobbyist pursuits, and career volunteering. It requires perseverance and dedication, the potentiality to turn into a career, significant personal effort based on specific knowledge, durable personal and social benefits, unique ethos within a social world and development of new identities associated with the chosen activity (Stebbins, 1982, 2007). Pottery as a hobby has all the essential criteria of serious leisure.
Information sharing is an intrinsically social activity and can happen in multiple ways in various contexts (Pilerot, 2012). The desire for developing social bonds is one of the main motivations for information sharing. It can be a desire to create new contacts or maintain and firm existing relationships (Tinto and Ruthven, 2016; Ma and Yuen, 2011; Rioux, 2004). However, information sharing is a complex phenomenon influenced by numerous contextual variables (Wilson, 2010; Heinström, et al., 2021).
Research shows people tend to share information when there is a unifying element in the context (Pilerot, 2012). For example, when there is a common interest like amateur genealogy (Fulton, 2009) or a shared political engagement such as civic activism (Hong and Kim, 2021), a shared experience of an illness like diabetes (Yao, et al., 2022), or a common workplace (Heinström, et al., 2021). Moreover, people of the same profession, for instance, teacher trainees (Hanell, 2017) or university students (Kim, et al., 2015), are more likely to share information within their groups. Likewise, people using similar kinds of communication tools share information via their preferred platforms (Kim, et al., 2022; Multas and Hirvonen, 2022). Also, people usually show a tendency to share information with each other when they deal with the same crisis, such as a pandemic (Sumaedi, et al., 2021).
In addition to the social aspect of information sharing, it has emotional and affective aspects. The LIS scholars have noticed the importance of emotional dimensions of information behaviour over the past two decades. However, it is still a relatively unexplored topic, and usually, it has been marginalized in favour of focusing on cognitive aspects (Julien, et al., 2005; Julien and Fourie, 2015). However, health contexts have received some attention to the emotional aspects of information behaviour over this period. Nevertheless, most studies focused on negative feelings, such as fear and anxiety (Rees and Bath, 2001; Matthews, et al., 2002; Veinot, 2009). However, this study focuses on the positive aspects.
The required data were collected from the publicly available User-Generated Content (UGC) on YouTube. UGC is a popular data collection tool in various areas of research and practice, such as tourism, hospitality and marketing (Muller and Christandl, 2019; Naab and Sehl, 2017; Lu and Stepchenkova, 2015). To select the most informative and popular videos, the researcher considered a set of selection criteria, including length of the video, number of comments and narration. He selected ten videos from narrating videos in English, longer than 15 minutes with more than 100 comments. In videos with less than 300 comments, all the comments were reviewed. In the videos with more than 300, the first 300 comments were examined. Based on this formula, 2785 comments formed the final sample. Table 1 provides details about the number of views, comments, likes and reactions to the selected videos. The collected data have been explored through an inductive content analysis method.
|Length of video||24.5 min||16 min||51 min||35 min||245 min|
|Number of views||220 K||6.5 K||817 K||810.5 K||2.2 M|
|Number of likes||4.89 K||0.3 K||14 K||13.7 K||48.9 K|
|Number of comments||447||105||503||398||4470|
Even though pottery is traditionally viewed as a male-dominant profession, the number of female commenters was quite considerable. It shows more women have become interested in this hobby recently. Most questions were made by the novice potters seeking advice from the expert. Most of the comments were about tips and techniques for troubleshooting at different stages of the practice. Some people also shared their stories and why they are passionate about pottery as a hobby. In terms of the emotional reactions to the videos, the overall ambience of this virtual community was positive. Seven categories were identified through the inductive content analysis of the comments. These categories summarise the major emotional reactions that viewers expressed and shared in their comments: (1) amazement, (2) excitement, (3) gratitude, (4) joyfulness, (5) admiration, (6) serenity, (7) inspiration.
Many viewers expressed their amazement in their comments about various aspects of the videos. They were amazed by the quality of the videos’ contents, the level of details in the narrations and the presenters’ competency to clarify complex issues. In addition, some were amazed because of the generosity of these YouTubers to share their expertise for free.
I am amazed by your generosity in sharing your craft.
There are no words to describe your work, the amount of attention to details, the perfect process you mastered, you are so good that you make everything seem easy.
These 40min flew by in a blink of an eye. I am amazed of your work itself and your effort to show the whole process. Very well edited and narrated.
I watched the whole thing and I swear I didn’t even blink ... was so captivating to see the process from start to finish.
Interestingly, this feeling of amazement was not limited to the beginners, and even some experienced potters also expressed similar comments in several cases. Therefore, it means information sharing is beneficial for people in different stages of their practice, ranging from the beginner to the expert:
I'm in my fiftieth year of ceramics and STILL found something to learn from this amazing video, recommended to all my students now.
I'm not a beginner. Higher than intermediate I would say, but in this video, I've found some precious tips.
The second key theme was excitement. Many comments showed watching the videos and learning about pottery skills made the viewers excited in one way or another. They were happy about what they learned by watching the video and observing the presenters’ talent in their performance and work.
I am so excited to see exactly how you do it! I’m absolutely positive it’s just going to be mesmerizing.
Thank you so much for sharing your many years of experience. I always learn new practical ways.
Your teapots certainly give me a new appreciation of the artistry! Start each day with a pottery video, yours are always on the list! Thank You again for sharing your skills with us!
The comments also indicate that most viewers sincerely appreciate the video producers because of their passion and dedication to creating and sharing these informative videos. Considering that access to these tips and techniques is not possible for many viewers in their local community, YouTube is an excellent option for them. The below excerpts are a few examples from a long list of these appreciative comments:
I can't express how grateful I am that you make these videos. I'm super fresh on the wheel and was just attempting to throw a cylinder/cup.
I appreciate your thorough and detailed explanations and recommendations. Thank you for making your expertise accessible.
Thank you so much for sharing your making process! It is really inspiring and helps me on my own journey with clay. Through watching your videos, I realize how incredibly important all the small details are, and how those details can make or break a pot.
The joy of engagement in pottery as a hobby was another prominent theme in the dataset. The findings show the potters not only enjoy the practice itself, but they also enjoy gathering and sharing information about it. Moreover, there are several sources of joy for them in this context. For example, some of them were deeply immersed in the practice and sometimes reached the state of flow or optimal experience (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014). Their comments indicate they concentrated on the task, and while watching the videos, the time passed so quickly for them.
That did not feel like 40 minutes - I thoroughly enjoyed watching the whole process and very appreciative of all the explanations of your process.
When hours and hours of work is reduced to 40 minutes and that 40 minutes feels like 4 minutes.
It's somehow always an absolute pleasure watching you work and describing your process. This longer video was just more opportunity for that same pleasure.
An absolute joy to watch and listen to. Thank you for your generosity and for taking the time to share with such detail.
Commenters admired the video producers for different reasons, such as their pure passion for pottery, their capability to explain complex techniques in simple language, their attention to fine details and the quality of the recorded videos.
Your attention to detail is extraordinary, in everything you do. Not just your endeavours to achieve a perfect piece every time but also the quality of the videos you are producing.
Oh! wow, this is some of the most satisfying content on YouTube. Your passion and dedication to the craft is admirable!
You have a wonderful way of explaining complexity with concision and telling us the reason behind each step - which is so important but often overlooked by other YouTubers.
In addition to having a positive feeling because of finding relevant information, some viewers found the narration approach relaxing and peaceful. They expressed a sense of serenity and peacefulness through their comments.
I could watch and listen to you for hours. It’s not only educational, intelligently presented, but calming to the soul. Your meticulous detail and work ethic draw me in as much as your intonation is relaxing.
Even if you are not watching it just listening to you will create images in our mind. Your narration is as brilliant as your pots.
This was so therapeutic! I loved watching the process. The attention to detail is crazy!
The findings indicate some videos play a more significant role than just being a source of information to provide an answer to a specific question. Furthermore, the quality of these videos and the passion of the narrators inspired the viewers to take this hobby more seriously and chase further information about it on YouTube or other platforms.
Your detailed demonstrations, description and explanation of each process was very inspiring.
The meticulous attention to detail and flow of process is truly inspiring.
Can you please do pottery narrations in a podcast form? Just like how you did here.
Is the email on your website the best way to ask a sort of long question about the pottery?
Pottery is the shared interest among the people who produce YouTube videos on this hobby and those who watch the videos and add their comments, questions and reactions. Although the producers and viewers live across the world with little chance to interact face-to-face, YouTube provides them with a free and accessible platform to interact and share their stories empowering them to create virtual communities of interest and virtual communities of practice. As previous studies on the information behaviour in this context showed, information sharing in these communities relates much more to the group’s shared interest (Agyemang, 2021), which is the same case in this study. Furthermore, like other serious leisure participants, the potters engage in their hobby enthusiastically, and they can enjoy some levels of autonomy and authenticity in their practice. The literature has already reported that serious leisure is a rich source of self-expression, personal enrichment and self-actualisation, and brings a wide range of positive feelings to the participants (Brooks, et al., 2019; Stevens-Ratchford, 2016; Kim, et al.,2014). In addition to the personal benefits, serious leisure provides them with more social bonds and social connectedness (Cantillon and Baker, 2020; Brooks, et al., 2019; Fulton, 2009), bringing them more joy. Moreover, the results suggest potters need more embodied information in their art. As a result, YouTube videos are informative sources to capture the skills in the moment of the practice. The findings are compatible with the previous studies in this context, as embodied information is central to serious leisure (Cox, et al., 2017; Olsson, 2016; Olsson and Lloyd, 2017).
The paper concludes that YouTube videos presenting pottery skills and stories are mainly informative and inspiring for the people interested in this hobby as serious leisure. The videos are usually informative because the viewers can learn pottery tips and techniques by observing the practice. Then they can capture the embodied information while watching the performance. Moreover, the paper concludes that information sharing on a popular hobby, like pottery, on a publicly available platform, like YouTube, can create a range of positive emotions for the viewers and encourage them to engage in various information activities, including information seeking and information sharing. Furthermore, information sharing can usually establish social ties among the active participants, including other commenters, viewers and the producers of the videos. These social ties are the building blocks to form new communities of interest and communities of practice or firm the existing ones to produce and share more information related to the chosen activity.
The author would like to express his warm gratitude to the reviewers for their constructive comments.
About the author
Yazdan Mansourian is a lecturer in the School of Information and Communication Studies at Charles Sturt University in Australia. His current research interest is the cognitive and affective aspects of human information behaviour in the context of serious leisure. He explores the role of joy and other positive emotions in engaging people with hobbies, amateurism and voluntary activities and how joyful experiences inspire them to seek, share and use information. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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