Cross-cultural comparisons of cultural works usually focus on the content of the works. Comparatively little attention is devoted to the concrete medium in which a work was created and consumed, and to the technical and social properties of the environment in which a work was created and consumed. However, it has been argued that such non-content aspects play a critical role both in how a work is shaped and how it is received. This is especially true today, in an age in which most cultural works can easily be digitized and distributed online with or without the permission of creators and rights holders, or digitally altered, adapted, and re-distributed.
In this presentation, I propose that in order to conduct effective cross-cultural comparisons of cultural works, close attention needs to be paid to the media and environments in which these works are published and consumed. I argue my case through a comparison of the technical properties of pixiv and deviantArt, two social networking services aimed at the exchange of images, and the influence of these properties on the actual contents of the images that are exchanged through them.