Do we really want our audience to participate?

Long time ago I started reading Henry Jenkins Convergence Culture, but must admit I skipped a few chapters. But in this rainy summer I promised myself to start reading the last of a series (I turned out to be many) of book in which I have skipped, browsed and jumped inside the last year.

Last night I read the Tarantino’s Star Wars Chapter in Convergence Culture. It is really a brilliant book written by the founder (and Director) of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Program.

There are so many wonderful insights in this chapter so I’ll share a few. I love his differentiation between interactivity and participation, with interactivity being the master plan of the sender, based by their intentions, control and responsiveness of consumer feedback and participation being the respons by the reciever shaped by cultural and social protocols.

Another brillant diversity he adresses is how he categories the players in the media industry on behalf on their response to the changing media landscape as prohibitionists or collaborationists. This is perfect because you can take all players in the industry and locate them in eiter direction. Sadly their is a tendency to the classic media players (being music, recordings and film) joining the prohibitionists, and leaving the collaborative respons to gaming, mobile and internet driven companies.

A way where we see this in action is the ongoing debate on whether the movie industry embrace fan sites using content from their backyard? Disney fought for years to prohibit this, but were happy to make children market their movies anywhere else? This just doesn’t make sense. We fight to create Word of Mouth, but as soon as is spreads to Word-of-Mouse – we panic.

The sociologist Grant McCranken says: Corporations must decide whether they are, literally, in or out. Will they make themself an island or will they enter the mix?”

Especially the gaming industry has left the island and they are conquering the world by letting the gamers not just join the game, but co-creating the universes in where they play. It is estimated that 60 % of the gameplay in the Sims is created by users, and we see how MMPOG’s are defined today – not by the given gameplay, but by the social interaction happening between the users, as mentiond before with machinima Tales of the Past 3.

As you can see I love this chapter and it ends by this interesting quote, where the part about renegotiating relationships are very well spoken ” many of the smartest folks in the media industry know this; some are trembling, and others are scrambling to renegotiate their relationships with consumers. In the end, the media producers need fans just as much as fans need them.”

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