After my last lesson regarding Participatory Culture I remember thinking about the stark difference and disagreement in Andrew Keen’s and Henry Jenkins view on user generated content. As this is an area that I am feel very much in the middle of I decided I would explore this area for my negotiated outcome part of the project which I will do in the form of an essay. I have chosen to do this as I would like to get a better insight on the subject matter and an essay will give me the opportunity to thoroughly explore this area as well as develop my own critique and analysis on the ideas that I look into, as well as develop my own defined opinion by the end of it.

My Proposal


Participatory Culture: A Hub of Rich Media or a Forest of Mediocrity
(Working Title)


Jenkins gives very insightful context into early forms of participatory culture with examples of fan fiction from films and explains how this has developed into the stage we are at now and how it is distributed through individual’s identities online. Whereas Keen argues that the concept which emphasises the practise of user generated content, social networking and collaborative sharing is failing to live up to the status quo. He believes that the idea of participatory culture is actually one that promotes frivolous observation, shrill opinion and an endless supply of poor quality content.

An explanation of both Jenkins idea of participatory culture and Keen’s polemic view of user generated content that give a firm introduction to two very opposing views. These two individuals have complete opposing views and so using their books/ideas as a starting point I feel I could draw out the points from both sides of the argument.

A History and context of participatory culture and its roots, prior to online contribution

I will look at why and how content goes viral and link this to a change in audience theory, briefly discussing the two step flow’s significance.

Considering online tutorials I think is important as it is user generated content that aims to inform and educate rather than entertain.

It is important to recognise that user generated content cannot be viewed in the same light as content from institutes created by professionals in their industry; a direct comparison shouldn’t be made as they serve different purposes.

Considering social media’s influence as a platform is important to explore how participatory culture is as prominent as it is.


My personal opinion on this matter is one that is very much in the middle. I appreciate both authors ideas and agree with them both in some aspects, although I do think keen’s polemic writing falls into a trap of him being very exaggerative, but I will take this into account when writing of course.

Because of my opinion in this discussion, I will be able to provide arguments from a middle ground which appreciates both points and I think this will allow me to produce a very well balanced argument.

I will try to use many sources which are very current and examples that emphasize my point. I will not use one specific example/case study as such but rather lots of relevant examples that relate to the particular section I am discussing.


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Jean Burgess

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Aleks Krotoski

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