Participatory media culture, unlike consumer culture is where an individual not only consumes media but also helps to produce it. In today’s digital world, the media has become a stomping ground for the forces of differentiated production and the complex interaction and integration between work, life and play, which are all expressed and facilitated by, the very fast-paced development of new information and communication technologies (Deuze, 2007) -the internet, specifically, has enabled individuals to create or re-create media more easily.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project conducted a research in 2005 and found that more than 57 percent of youths who use the internet could be deemed media creators; a person who created or re-created content online in the form of webpages, blogs, videos, photography, artwork or other original stories (Lenhardt & Maddem, 2005). A majority of thirty-three percent of these youths share their created content online, twenty-two percent have their own web page, nineteen percent have blogs and eighteen percent re-create content found online (Lenhardt & Maddem, 2005).
The Pew study however, did not take into consideration the newer forms of expression such as podcasting or account for more widespread practices such as video gaming, therefore actually undercounting the number of youths who have welcomed the new participatory culture.
Jenkins defines participatory culture as one where there is a kind of informal guidance whereby what is known by the more experienced is passed down to the amateurs and where participants feel a relation with each other in caring what viewers might think of their created content. There are low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement and a good support system for sharing each other’s content. Lastly, participants here feel that their contributions matter and are important (Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton & Robison, 2009). This essay aims to explore the culture of participatory media further by studying its benefits and disadvantages.
The rise of social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Youtube as well as micro-blogging sites such as Twitter, have introduced the opportunity for wide-scale online participation. These content sharing platforms have not only made it possible for audiences to extract and re-circulate media content in new and powerful ways, but it also pushes them to adopt certain skills, knowledge and the self-confidence required to be well-rounded members in this uprising culture. This can be achieved through affiliations (interactions through online communities such as Facebook), expressions (involvement in creating new forms of media such as mash-ups and modding), collaborative problem solving (working together to fulfil assignments) and circulations (shaping the flow of media such as blogging or podcasting) (Rotman, Dana, Vieweg, Yardi, Preece, Shneiderman, Pirolli & Glaisyer, 2011).