Participatory culture

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Participatory Culture is the idea that various peoples, societies, and cultures to interact with new media in a way that allows them both to add and take away information from this medium. The digital age allows the auteur to add content using use meta-media object whose mediums include (hyper)text, images, video and audio in their interaction. The Web 2.0 is based off the concepts of Participatory culture and the sharing of information through wikis, RSS feeds, and blogs.

Television programming, advertisements, and film influence cultural content. Furthermore they are owned by multi-billion dollar companies whose objective is to sell a product. Money being the driving force of the flow of culture leads to a restricted creative process. They also monopolize the content of the public domain. With the dawn of the internet in public hands has come the opening-up of proprietorship since it allows consumers to exchange material fluidly within seconds.

The television industry has responded to these consumer Executive Vice President for research and planning at MTV networks describes as "media-actives" — a term which refers to a group of people born since the mid-70s with a "what I want when I want it view attitude towards media - by creating more interactive programming. Hence the surge in popularity of such call-in voting competitions like American Idol and make-your-own advertisement competitions amongst consumers.

Another way mass-media attempts to create a sense of inclusion and control among viewers is through the promotion of fan culture. Through transmedia storytelling such as Remix culture and fanfiction. As Henry Jenkins outlines in his book, Convergence Culture, the multi-million dollar industry of Star Wars, capitalizes on this audience desire for participation. For example, "to ensure that fans bought into his version of the Star Wars universe, Koster essentially treated the fan community as his client team, posting regular reports about many different elements of the game's design on the Web, creating an online forum where potential players could response and make suggestions, ensuring that his staff regularly monitored the online discussion and posted back their own reactions to the community's recommendations" [1].

And while some corporations are sympathetic and encourage fan feedback and creation, other media moguls see fan participation as a threat to their livelihood and creative control, spurring countless Copyright debates and lawsuits concerning Fair use and personal ownership versus the public domain.

The need to control and interact in one's media environment is going to further extremes with the birth of Second Life As media scholar, Cory Ondrejka, examines in her article Education Unleashed: Participatory Culture, Education, and Innovation in Second Life,these online universes such as Second Life and World of Warcraft manifest themselves as extreme extensions of participatory culture's power to connect and create.


[1]Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture. New York: New York University Press, 2006.

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