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Participatory Culture and the Web November 10, 2006

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Convergence.

Teens are actively involved in what we are calling participatory cultures. A study from the Pew Internet & American Life project found that one in two teens have created media content, and one in three use the Internet to share content they produced.

Henry Jenkins, Director of Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT has published a white paper exploring new frameworks for media literacy. He writes:

A participatory culture is a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices.

A participatory culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another. Forms of participatory culture include:

Affiliations— memberships, formal and informal, in online communities centered around various forms of media, such as Friendster, Facebook, message boards, metagaming, game clans,or MySpace.

Expressions— producing new creative forms, such as digital sampling, skinning and modding, fan videomaking, fan fiction writing, zines, mash-ups.

Collaborative Problem-solving— working together in teams,formal and informal, to complete tasks and develop new knowledge (such as through Wikipedia, alternative reality gaming, spoiling.

Circulations — Shaping the flow of media (such as podcasting,blogging).

A growing body of scholarship suggests potential benefits of these forms of participatory culture, including opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, a changed attitude toward intellectual property, the diversification of cultural expression, the development of skills valued in the modern workplace, and a more empowered conception of citizenship.

Access to this participatory culture functions as a new form of the hidden curriculum, shaping which youth will succeed and which will be left behind as they enter school and the workplace.

The full paper can be downloaded here



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