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.


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