Before talking about my favourite participatory culture, here is a definition of what a participatory culture is: according to Henry Jenkins:
1. With relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement
2. With strong support for creating and sharing one's creations with others
3. With some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices
4. Where members believe that their contributions matter
5. Where members feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created).
Fairly simple and easily achievable, since most participatory cultures these days are very popular, like Facebook, video games PostSecret, some sort of knowledge community etc. The one that I like the most is blogging. I’ve said before that I’ve never really had the chance to keep my own blog. I used to when I was younger and I had just found myspace. It was nice to be able to talk about whatever I wanted. It was like keeping an online journal for myself. After a while, school caught up with me and it was harder to keep up or post daily. So when I was told one of the main assignments would be blogging, I was rather excited to start.
Not only was it fun to write blogs, it was twice as interesting to read them. “Bloggers don’t have constraint. They can obsess, they can focus, they can get serious” (Lessig, 43).
This is one of my favourite quotes from Free Culture. Blogs enable people to do all of these things plus more so when I would get to read other peoples blogs, it was like opening a whole different way of thinking. I would read about people’s different opinions about topics ranging from politics, to art, photography and graffiti, to sports and BMX riding.
Despite bloggers being known for having little credibility, they are useful. Bloggers provide different perspectives. They are able to think openly since they are in an open knowledge community where there isn’t any disapproval of thinking differently. They are updated frequently thus providing timeliness and new information. They are a form of subvertising and sharing of information, using your right of freedom of speech.
I don’t think there is a better way of starting if you want to be heard. Continually updating and working hard maybe eventually get you somewhere. Just look at Perez Hilton - he updates his blog more than a couple of times a day reporting about celebrity’s lives and what is new with them, plus issues or events going on around the world today. If it weren’t for him blogging so frequently I wouldn’t have been so caught up on the American election. Or that Ashlee Simpson had her baby and named him after one of the Jungle Book characters. It’s become a full time job for him and it allows “…public discourse without the public ever needing to gather in a single public place” (Lessig, 42).
When it comes down to it, blogs are fun and interesting. Like I mentioned earlier, they can be considered an online journal for some, or an outlet for frustrations about our government or corporate advertising etc. Or it could be an academic blog like mine and the others in my class that are writing about some serious topics that happen or have happened, creating a very tight knit knowledge community with different perspectives and opinions about the same topics, just looked at through different eyes.
Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture. New York: Penguin Group, 2004
Combs, Nate. "Participatory Culture". Terra Nova Blogs. 26 Oct 2006. 25 Nov 2008.