In this article we argue that the concept of genre has a valuable function within sociological theory, particularly for understanding emerging communicative practices within social and personal media. Genres span the whole range of recognizable forms of communication, play a crucial role in overcoming contingency and facilitate communication. Their function is to enhance composing and understanding of communication by offering interpretative, recognizable and flexible frames of reference. As such, genres generate a sense of stability in modern complex societies. Genres ought to be seen as an intermediary level between the levels of media and text, however influenced by both. They operate as interaction between two interdependent dimensions, conventions and expectations, both of which are afforded by media and specific texts. In this article these relationships are illustrated through two cases of emerging personal media genres: the online diary and the camphone self-portrait.