I believe that I am part of a much larger participatory culture made up of many people around my age. This participatory culture has a huge influence on my life and I would say that I am constantly learning new things from it. I therefore agree with Jenkin’s idea that, as he states, “the focus on negative effects of media consumption offers an incomplete picture (11). I think that I and many others in my generation learn more quickly and devote more time to participatory cultures than to their schoolwork.
I would be categorized as participating in affiliations and collaborative problem solving, according to Jenkins definitions. For my affiliation, I have a profile on Facebook, and I probably check it about four to five times a day. I add pictures to it whenever I can, and frequently scan my friend’s pictures. I also use Facebook for school work. For example, when I am working in a team for a class almost all the members will communicate through facebook.
My homepage is Wikipedia, so I spend a lot of time on it, and frequently use it to look up terms and definitions from my textbook reading. I also will modify articles when I see that they are incorrect. Therefore in a small way I am also contributing to this community and my contribution will matter because someone else who might look up that same term that I corrected will be able to gain information from it. I also used to play the game World of Warcraft, mostly during the summer before I started university. This is a form of “alternative reality gaming” as Jenkin’s puts it. I formed groups that made joint efforts to takeover enemy territories or finish quests. These forms of collaborative problem solving make me feel as if I am really contributing to something and succeeding in helping to build the participatory culture I am involved in.
In addition I am a frequent participant of youtube.com. The three videos we watched in class all illustrate that a broader range of people have access to, can contribute to, and reach a larger group of people.
I also agree with Jenkins in his idea that at the same time I am participating in these cultures I am also gaining certain skills. His list of skills is as follows: play, performance, simulation, appropriation, multitasking, distributed cognition, collective intelligence, judgment, transmedia navigation, networking, and negotiation. I believe those of us who have the money and time to participate in these cultures will have an advantage economically. For example I will be able to apply skills that I learned in World of Warcraft, such as negotiation, play, and performance, to better work in a group. I will also have a broader range of knowledge from collaborative sites like Wikipedia, which I have had access to and could use to impress others in my field.
In addition I believe that in terms of political power Facebook book is an essential tool. For example Barack Obama, made a profile very early on in his campaign, and he (or someone he employed) had the skills to set up a profile that was appropriate to the participatory culture. I believe that this alone gave him a lot of backing from youth who also participate in this same culture, Facebook.
I think that I as according to Jenkins am a member of a new generation of media makers, in which a broader range of people have access public expression and creation. I think this will have great impact on my life because it will allow me to have a broader viewpoint and skill set in culture that is constantly growing and expanding.
Boyd’s article on “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Site” was extremely interesting because I am part of that youth that so adores sites such as Facebook and Myspace. When Boyd raises the question what do people do on Myspace, she illustrates the answer throughout her text essentially as creating oneself in a way that fits a social norm of certain subgroup in a participatory culture, while at the same time having the freedom to contribute and change without real laws or restrictions. One of my favorite examples that she uses is of an admissions committee that, “had planned to admit a young black man from a very poor urban community until they found his MySpace. They were horrified to find that his profile was full of hip-hop imagery, urban ghetto slang, and hints of gang participation. This completely contradicted the essay they had received from him about the problems with gangs in his community, and they were at a loss” (17). This is a perfect example of a boy who participated in and conformed to the social norms of one culture and then tried to enter another culture that had restricted access. In this case the boy had to present himself in a way that fit this new culture, and yet the admissions committee was horrified when it found that he was presenting himself in such different ways. Essentially though as Boyd illustrates, Myspace, and other such sites don’t have formal restrictions or laws, their guidelines are invisible, although no less strong. This boy as Boyd says may have felt he had to conform to pressures from gangs in the context of myspace.
Therefore the participants of websites such as Myspace, like me for example, create an account in order to communicate to a social group that we also conform to its invisible rules and regulations. I personally hate my relationship status on Facebook yet if I were to remove it people would wonder if I had broken up with my boyfriend, though if I leave it, if I ever were to really break up with him I would have to communicate it to everyone in my social network. I am in a way trapped by the invisible rules of the site. This relates to Boyd’s expression of people “writing themselves into being.” By creating a profile I am writing out who I am and communicating it to type of public. This public in my case made up of mostly people around my own age at universities. I think that in the future people may be able to have multiple identities that they have written into a type of reality and that these different identities may differ immensely.
I was really interested in Boyd’s explanation about youth culture being against adult publics. I did not really understand why my parents, specifically my dad, thought Facebook would be damaging to my reputation once I left university and entered the adult world. I thought the example of the “What kind of Drug Are You” quiz was really eye opening because I would without even a second thought take this quiz on Facebook because I understand that among my peers, which are most of the participants, people don’t actually believe that answers to quizzes truly represent you as a person. Yet this girls father was not part of the online culture and so did not understand the norms, this would of course lead to his concern. Now I see that if I were to apply for a job and someone outside of my participatory culture saw a quiz of me like what sexual position are you, or what drug are you, they would not understand might not like this aspect of me. Yet they do not understand that in the context of Facebook this is allowed.
I found Boyd’s analysis really interesting because he is analyzing me and many others like me.