Creeper or Favoured Produser – Participatory Culture on the Web 2.0

After reading Jay Rosen’s article The People Formerly Known as the Audience, I can’t help but to agree with his take on the state of media today in relation to the Web 2.0. Yes, today’s media society allows for any and everybody with access to the internet and the web to create and post their own creative content and send it out for everyone in the world to see, however, this does not mean that – as he exaggerates of media people’s concern in his article – “ ‘if all would speak who shall be left to listen’ “ is an actual problem.  I second Rosen’s statement that audiences are content to let media engagement retain its old style and have its one way form of consumption while we choose when and where to offer our input or take creative license with content on the web.

As Rosen accurately stated, users tend to form communities online on sites that interest them – within these sites they develop the ability to sense other users that have trustworthy and valid information or content. This is especially important in today’s media society where there is an abundance of inaccurate, exaggerated and just plain false content floating around out there. Social media platforms do predetermine the way we participate with them and this directly relates to finding trustworthy fellow users to follow on the web. For instance, with sites like Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook some users may be more active at posting than others who just scroll through their feed, or those who just follow valid celebrity or other user accounts that capture their interest. One might feel the need to participate and post when something strikes their attention enough to voice their own opinion or contribute with their own content.  To contradict this however, one may ask why do some users feel the need to create accounts of their own to generate a constant stream of content – such as fan accounts – does that mean that we perceive our own ways of participating with social media platforms based on what we want to do online.

This relates back to Bird who believes that as a member of society today “being an audience member is basically what people do continually” (512). The social media sites that we frequent do make us audience members to our friends’ posts on Facebook, to the tweets of those we follow on Twitter and the posts on Tumblr. I am on the fence about her question if this makes us all ‘produsers’, no every post or tweet may not be artistically moving or culturally relevant but we still choose to subject ourselves to the content on our social media pages. And now social media is responding to this by allowing us to hide the content in our Facebook newsfeed or unfollow those users who we might not like, so we have the option not to be an audience to their words.

Having my own Tumblr blog with a substantial amount of followers I have experienced firsthand being extremely picky about the content that I wish to see on my dashboard by fellow Tumblr bloggers whose content I deem appropriate and up to a certain standard. I have also experienced the praise and, oddly enough, fan reaction to those send me messaged in my inbox telling me that they enjoy my blog and ‘fangirl’ (yes it was odd) when I replied to them.

All in all I believe this is a more complex issue than simply saying we’re not all produsers because with the internet being the Web 2.0 participatory culture it is today, simply joining these social media platforms is choosing to participate with Facebook rather than those who adamantly refuse to have an account.  I believe Rosen had it right when he states we choose when and where to participate, though we are always ‘creeping’ these sites to see what is being produced. 

Participatory Culture, Web 2.0 and Technological Determinism

The readings for this week speak a lot towards the evolution of the use of the internet and the world wide web (WWW) from its early days and early intentions of being a secret to the participatory medium it is today. The history of social media graph especially drives home the point of how drastically and rapidly it has changed and just how far we have come. The internet is no longer the information age it used to be, now its a user generated culture medium.

I have been an avid user of social media since the inception of many of the different applications available today: twitter, facebook and tumblr. I was a bit late to the instagram game. Each of these different modes of social media, with the exception of Facebook, all started out with the purpose of making the global village even smaller as online communities could interact with each other and get their thoughts out there.

Lets start with Twitter. Twitter’s intention was to allow us an outlet for our thoughts and opinions. Many different people jumped on board with this, as did I, and willingly participated in this new application that allowed us to express our 140 character thoughts to the world. This is a powerful tool that could make changes culturally and socially and has, as many organizations, leaders and companies use it to support their causes and make political statements about changes that need and should be made. The media and entertainment industry, however, rules twitter more than anything else – asking the opinions of consumers and fans, interacting with them personally on twitter, asking them what they would like to see in their favourite television shows, movies or music. It has made all the difference in the world of entertainment and the interaction between celebrities and fans. The hashtags are the most important aspect of gaining attention and promoting a topic for discussion that needs to be discussed. I started out as a regular newbie Twitter in 2009 and have gradually grown as a twitter account managing to get quite a few twitter replies and follows from celebrities I adore on my personal twitter account.

Facebook is a bit different. This was started with the intent of simply communicating with friends online and keeping in touch. It then evolved into a more professional and businesslike medium as it was used for group meetings and planning and then corporations and the entertainment industry started making facebook pages for their business and clientele to market themselves. Thus, Facebook evolved into a marketing medium and is still predominantly one today as the ads, side of the page and search bar are all conditioned to find pages that may relate to your search history. As for myself, I willingly liked many of my favourite entertainers pages to keep updated on them and to interact with them on facebook as they asked for opinions and such. However, now, the continuous pop up ads and links to other sites that are so dominant on facebook as made me an unwilling participant to other websites and pages that I have no interest in.

Tumblr was and has continued to be a blogging website but is now used mostly by fangirls for their favourite band, show, movie etc. I started out simply as a follower, where I wanted to consume these user-generated posts by other more skilled tumblr users. However, my passion for Old Hollywood and 80s movies drove me to create my own successful Tumblr blog with more intellectual posts giving information about each of these eras. It was also allowed me to follow similar intellectual blogs as  mine allowing me to expand my knowledge on the eras I love.

Instagram also has stayed consistent as a photo sharing medium and is especially popular because of the celebrities on it that allow fans to see and interact with their posts. I have just started an Instagram account and have done the standard photo sharing and commenting and liking of friends and celebrity pictures.

As was described in the Schafer reading, appropriation can be seen on these four social media as users have adopted them to suit their own needs in their everyday lives and what is easiest and most beneficial to them. Also stated was how media and media practices have the ability to empower consumers and political activism all which can be seen on these social media. Each one has been used, even recently, to raise awareness for causes and/or to give their consumer voices. For example, the #BringOurGirlsBack campaign for the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. I am sure almost everyone has atleast seen one tweet, facebook post, tumblr post or instagram picture with this hashtag or relating to this topic.

I am still a regular user of all four of these social media on a daily basis, sometimes one or two more than the others.

Participatory culture allows users voices and talents to be heard and seen by the global village online and is the way that most recognition is being gained today. The Wanted became huge simply because of social media, as did One Direction. My films have gained the attention of PRs in America because of my sharing the Youtube links on twitter and instagram with hashtags that they regularly search. It is simply an invaluable way to gain attention and recognition. On the downside, however, some individuals may lose their social lives to the online popularity they may gain as a fan account on Twitter or Tumblr (which I have seen), it is also a very simple way to be unnecessarily hateful to others as there is the easy option of being anonymous. As always there are pros and cons.

How You Doin’?

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Hey Guys,

I’m Semira! A Film major going into my fourth year at Brock. I usually blog on tumblr so Word Press is a bit weird for me. I will admit I have been active on a lot of social media before this class: twitter, tumblr, facebook, linkedin.

Umm what can I say about myself? I love movies, especially Classic Hollywood and 80s films. Being a film major I have made a few short films. I’m mostly hoping to be a screenwriter and a producer. Moving to LA is the dream one day.

Huge music fan, especially country. I dance and I wish I could say I sing.

Not sure of what else to add, but I welcome any questions 🙂

xoxo

Gossip Girl