Participatory media

Participatory media is media where the audience can play an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating content.[1] Citizen / Participatory journalism, citizen media and democratic media are related principles.

Participatory media includes community media, blogs, wikis, RSS, tagging and social bookmarking, music-photo-video sharing, mashups, podcasts, participatory video projects and videoblogs. All together they can be described as "e-services, which involve end-users as active participants in the value creation process".[2] However, "active [...] uses of media are not exclusive to our times".[3] "In the history of mediated communication we can find many variations of participatory practices. For instance, the initial phase of the radio knew many examples of non-professional broadcasters".[4]

Marshall MacLuhan discussed the participatory potential of media already in the 1970s but in the era of digital and social media, the theory of participatory culture becomes even more acute as the borders between audiences and media producers are blurring.[5]


These distinctly different media share three common, interrelated characteristics:[6]

Full-fledged participatory news sites include NowPublic, OhmyNews,, On the Ground News Reports and GroundReport.

With participatory media, the boundaries between audiences and creators become blurred and often invisible. In the words of David Sifry, the founder of Technorati, a search engine for blogs, one-to-many "lectures" (i.e., from media companies to their audiences) are transformed into "conversations" among "the people formerly known as the audience". This changes the tone of public discussions. The mainstream media, says David Weinberger, a blogger, author and fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, "don't get how subversive it is to take institutions and turn them into conversations". That is because institutions are closed, assume a hierarchy and have trouble admitting fallibility, he says, whereas conversations are open-ended, assume equality and eagerly concede fallibility.[7]

Some proposed that journalism can be more "participatory" because the World Wide Web has evolved from "read-only" to "read-write". In other words, in the past only a small proportion of people had the means (in terms of time, money, and skills) to create content that could reach large audiences. Now the gap between the resources and skills needed to consume online content versus the means necessary to produce it have narrowed significantly to the point that nearly anyone with a web-connected device can create media.[8] As Dan Gillmor, founder of the Center for Citizen Media declared in his 2004 book We the Media, journalism is evolving from a lecture into a conversation.[9] He also points out that new interactive forms of media have blurred the distinction between producers of news and their audience. In fact, some view the term "audience" to be obsolete in the new world of interactive participatory media. New York University professor and blogger Jay Rosen refers to them as "the people formerly known as the audience."[10] In "We Media", a treatise on participatory journalism, Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis suggest that the "audience" should be renamed "participants".[1] One of the first projects encompassing participatory media prior to the advent of social media was The September 11 Photo Project. The exhibit was a not-for-profit community based photo project in response to the September 11 attacks and their aftermath. It provided a venue for the display of photographs accompanied by captions by anyone who wished to participate. The Project aimed to preserve a record of the spontaneous outdoor shrines that were being swept away by rain or wind or collected by the city for historical preservation.

Some even proposed that "all mass media should be abandoned", extending upon one of the four main arguments given by Jerry Mander in his case against television: Corporate domination of television used to mould humans for a commercial environment, and all mass media involve centralized power. Blogger Robin Good wrote, "With participatory media instead of mass media, governments and corporations would be far less able to control information and maintain their legitimacy... To bring about true participatory media (and society), it is also necessary to bring about participatory alternatives to present economic and political structures... In order for withdrawal from using the mass media to become more popular, participatory media must become more attractive: cheaper, more accessible, more fun, more relevant. In such an atmosphere, nonviolent action campaigns against the mass media and in support of participatory media become more feasible."[11]

Although 'participatory media' has been viewed uncritically by many writers, others, such as Daniel Palmer, have argued that media participation must also "be understood in relation to defining characteristics of contemporary capitalism – namely its user-focused, customised and individuated orientation."[12]


  • The phrase Participatory Media was first used publicly by Greg Ruggiero and later popularized by blog researcher Rebecca Blood and others, such as Furukawa. In April 2006, journalist and media researcher Jim McClellan used the phrase Personal Participatory Media, which may distinguish between objective social media (scientific, corporate, pure information) and subjective/personal social media (value-laden, opinion, religious).

See also


  1. ^ a b Bowman, S., Willis, C. "We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information." 2003: The Media Center at the American Press Institute.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Ekström, A., Jülich, S., Lundgren, F., Wisselgren, P. "History of Participatory Media". 2011: Taylor & Francis Group.
  4. ^ Carpentier, Nico. "Participation Is Not Enough: The Conditions of Possibility of Mediated Participatory Practices" 2009: European Journal of Communication 2009 24: 407-419.
  5. ^ Jenkins, Henry. "Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide" 2006: New York University Press.
  6. ^ Rheingold, Howard. "Using Participatory Media and Public Voice to Encourage Civic Engagement". 2007: Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  7. ^ Kluth, Andreas (20 April 2006). "Among the Audience". 2006: Economist.
  8. ^ MacKinnon, Rebecca. "Blogging, Journalism and Credibility: The Future of Global Participatory Media" (PDF). 2007: Seikai Shisosya.
  9. ^ Gilmor, Dan. "We the Media". 2004: O’Reilly. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  10. ^ Rosen, Jay. "Top Ten Ideas of '04: News Turns from a Lecture to a Conversation". 2006: Pressthink. Archived from the original on 2010-09-06.
  11. ^ Good, Robin. "The Power Of Open Participatory Media And Why Mass Media Must Be Abandoned". 2003: blog.
  12. ^ Palmer, Daniel. "Participatory Media: Visual Culture in Real Time". 2004: University of Melbourne.

External links

Bookmaking software

Bookmaking software provides a start-to-finish, self-publishing solution for end users. It combines the design capabilities of desktop publishing software applications with the connectivity of Web-based applications to seamlessly link desktop computers to remote digital printers, as well as online and offline distribution channels and commerce platforms.

This type of software application is made possible by digital printing, which enables smaller numbers of books to be printed on demand at an affordable price, as well as broadband and Web-based technology, which make it possible for larger amounts of data (e.g., software programs, files) to be distributed over a network.

While self-publishing is not new, the trend is being fueled by growing popularity of “participatory media” (such as social networking sites and blogs), which enable people to increasingly contribute to the media they consume.

Center for Media Justice

The Center for Media Justice, established in 2008, is a national non-profit organization based in Oakland, California. The organization's mission is "to build a powerful movement for a more just and participatory media and digital world—with racial equity and human rights for all."The Center for Media Justice's founder and current Executive Director is Malkia Cyril.

China Internet Project

The Berkeley China Internet Project (BCIP) is a participatory media and research network, with a focus on how the Internet affects China's media and politics. Based at the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley, the activities of BCIP are centered on the development of a set of participatory media projects, including China Digital Times (CDT) which explore cutting edge Web 2.0 applications to cover China. Its current director is Xiao Qiang.

Together with an interdisciplinary class and online knowledge base on Participatory Media, research projects on information and communication technology and human rights, BCIP aims to provide both a new lens on the complex and rapidly changing society and a locus of influence on events: enhancements of the effectiveness and civic impact of participatory media could accelerate the growth of citizen-engaged civil society and a rich and informed public sphere. It will also help develop critical knowledge and insight into how the digital communication revolution is interacting with China’s society, media and politics and transforming China’s future.

Citizen media

The term citizen media refers to forms of content produced by private citizens who are otherwise not professional journalists. Citizen journalism, participatory media and democratic media are related principles.

Daniel Meadows

Daniel Meadows (born 1952) is an English photographer turned maker of digital stories, and a teacher of photography turned teacher of participatory media.

Digital Journal

Digital Journal is a Canadian Internet news service that blends professional contributions with user-submitted content.Digital Journal began as a technology and gadget magazine in 1998 and evolved into a global citizen journalist news hub in 2006. The company is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and shares advertising revenue with citizen journalists who report for the site and it has control mechanisms to ensure content is accurate and well written. Contributors submit a sample of writing and are asked to demonstrate expertise to Digital Journal's editorial board. The company has an assignment desk where contributing journalists are informed of news items ripe for press coverage. The Board of Advisors includes: journalist; Jack Kapica, business executive; Andrew Waitman, law professor; Michael Geist, business executive; Kerry Munro and business executive; Jennifer Evans.

Global Voices (NGO)

Global Voices is an international community of writers, bloggers and digital activists that aim to translate and report on what is being said in citizen media worldwide. It is a non-profit project started at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School that grew out of an international bloggers' meeting held in December 2004. The organization was founded by Ethan Zuckerman and Rebecca MacKinnon. In 2008, it became an independent non-profit incorporated in Amsterdam, Netherlands.


HUMlab is an interdisciplinary digital lab at Umeå University in the north east of Sweden. Its organization was founded in 1997 and it opened as a functioning digital space in 2000. It has been the venue for numerous conferences, workshops and seminars dealing with issues surrounding digital media, the humanities and interdisciplinary research and development. It functions as a teaching space, a laboratory and as a studio.

The HUMlab website contains an archive of streamed seminars and online papers.

Current themes include participatory media, digital cultural heritage, emergent communication and critical perspectives.

Incubus HQ Live

Incubus HQ Live was a participatory media exhibit and real-time documentary by American rock band Incubus in collaboration with Sony Music Entertainment and producer/director Marc Scarpa. Held in the summer of 2011, it allowed fan access and interaction with the band as they prepared for the release of their seventh studio album, If Not Now, When?. From June 30 to July 6 in a warehouse space in West Los Angeles, California, band members Brandon Boyd, Mike Einziger, Jose Pasillas, Ben Kenney and DJ Kilmore and their fans participated in instrument clinics, question and answer sessions, video chats and large art canvases where both band members and fans alike were encouraged to share original artwork. Each night, Incubus performed a fan created set-list, starting with their earliest material and culminating on the last night with a performance of If Not Now, When? in its entirety.Events throughout the day and the nightly performances were streamed over the web from multiple points of view (professional and fan-held cameras alike) while participants from around the world shared in the experience through Twitter, Facebook, Livestream, TweetBeam and YouTube. The broadcast was viewed by nearly 2 million people over the course of the week.The multi-platform, real-time approach to the documentary format allowed Incubus and their fans to reflect on what the music had come to mean to them over time, its significance for them in the moment and its potential and possibility for the future.A special box set containing performances, interviews with the band members, archival footage and candid footage from over the course of Incubus HQ Live was released in July 2012.

Jeff Watson (designer)

Jeff Watson (born March 26, 1973) is a Canadian game designer, writer, and educator. His principal topics of interest are pervasive and environmental game design, creative process design, and participatory media. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Interactive Media and Games at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, associate faculty at the USC Game Innovation Lab, and Director (with Stuart Candy) of the Situation Lab.

Joshua Green (academic)

Joshua Green is an Australian academic researcher of television and participatory media. He was a research associate with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries & Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology, then postdoctoral associate and manager of the Convergence Culture Consortium at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Comparative Media Studies program.Green previously worked at the Carsey-Wolf Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was Project Manager of the Media Industries Project. This research venture brings industry and academy together to explore the future of the media industries.

Marc Scarpa

Marc Scarpa (born September 25, 1969 in New York City) is an American entrepreneur, producer and director specializing in live participatory media. He is an executive board member and the founding New York Chair of the Producers Guild of America New Media Council and a recipient of the Marc A. Levey distinguished service award. Scarpa has received a Webby Award in 2010 for Best Event / Live Webcast for his work on the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, a Cannes Bronze Lion for Branded Content and Entertainment for the X Factor Pepsi Digital Preshow and Xtra Factor App and four Social TV Awards including Best of Show for X Factor Pepsi Digital Preshow and Xtra Factor App. Additionally, he has been a panelist for conferences such as NATPE, X-Summit, LTE North America, Digital Hollywood and Canadian Music Week among others.

Open admissions

Open admissions, or open enrollment, is a type of unselective and noncompetitive college admissions process in the United States in which the only criterion for entrance is a high school diploma or a certificate of attendance or General Educational Development (GED) certificate.

Open university

An open university is a university with an open-door academic policy, with minimal or no entry requirements. Open universities may employ specific teaching methods, such as open supported learning or distance education. However, not all open universities focus on distance education, nor do distance-education universities necessarily have open admission policies.

Participatory culture

Participatory culture is an opposing concept to consumer culture — in other words a culture in which private individuals (the public) do not act as consumers only, but also as contributors or producers (prosumers). The term is most often applied to the production or creation of some type of published media. Recent advances in technologies (mostly personal computers and the Internet) have enabled private persons to create and publish such media, usually through the Internet. Since the technology now enables new forms of expression and engagement in public discourse, participatory culture not only supports individual creation but also informal relationships that pair novices with experts. This new culture as it relates to the Internet has been described as Web 2.0. In participatory culture "young people creatively respond to a plethora of electronic signals and cultural commodities in ways that surprise their makers, finding meanings and identities never meant to be there and defying simple nostrums that bewail the manipulation or passivity of "consumers."The increasing access to the Internet has come to play an integral part in the expansion of participatory culture because it increasingly enables people to work collaboratively; generate and disseminate news, ideas, and creative works; and connect with people who share similar goals and interests (see affinity groups). The potential of participatory culture for civic engagement and creative expression has been investigated by media scholar Henry Jenkins. In 2005, Jenkins and co-authors Ravi Purushotma, Katie Clinton, Margaret Weigel and Alice Robison authored a white paper entitled Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. This paper describes a participatory culture as one:

With relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement

With strong support for creating and sharing one's creations with others

With some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices

Where members believe that their contributions matter

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).

Participatory video

Participatory video is a form of participatory media in which a group or community creates their own film. The idea behind this is that making a video is easy and accessible, and is a great way of bringing people together to explore issues, voice concerns or simply to be creative and tell stories. It is therefore primarily about process, though high quality and accessible films (products) can be created using these methods if that is a desired outcome. This process can be very empowering, enabling a group or community to take their own action to solve their own problems, and also to communicate their needs and ideas to decision-makers and/or other groups and communities. As such, PV can be a highly effective tool to engage and mobilise marginalised people, and to help them to implement their own forms of sustainable development based on local needs.

Pool (website)

ABC Pool was a website housed within the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) as part of ABC Radio National's Multi-platform and Content Development department. The site was launched as a public beta in August 2008 and is a space where people can upload, share, collaborate and communicate with other members of the 'Pool' community. Some of the best work on the site has resulted in on-air outcomes through programs on ABC Radio National and ABC Open network. ABC Pool was a project that explores the space between broadcast and participatory media.

The site made use of Creative Commons licences, both releasing limited ABC archival material as CC and allowing users to license their work as CC.Pool has been one of the ABC's first websites to take advantage of Creative Commons Licensing, enabling Pool's online community to share content within a safe legal framework, allowing for pastiche and adaptation.

The Pool website went offline in June 2013.

Vernacular culture

Vernacular culture is the cultural forms made and organised by ordinary, often indigenous people, as distinct from the high culture of an elite. One feature of vernacular culture is that it is informal. Such culture is generally engaged in on a non-profit and voluntary basis, and is almost never funded by the state.

The term is used in the modern study of geography and cultural studies. It generally implies a cultural form that differs markedly from a deeply rooted folk culture, and also from tightly organised subcultures and religious cultures. In cultural and communication studies, vernacular rhetoric is the discursive aspect of vernacular culture, referring to "mundane, bottom-up, and informal discursive expressions that challenge and criticize the institutional".

XRay Magazine

XRay Magazine was a monthly, urban arts and issues publication based in Cincinnati, Ohio. XRay was published in editions of 5,000 to 10,000 copies a month. Forty issues were printed and distributed for free throughout Cincinnati's urban neighborhoods. XRay's stated goal was to be a participatory media project, breaking down barriers between writers, readers and editors. The publication was launched on December 22, 2000, and ran until August–September 2004.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.