Week 2: Participatory Culture

          Surely, I am a very web dependent person when it comes to everyday life. Certain ways of my digital participation include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, E-mailing and such. The aforementioned sites are listed in order of decreasing willingness to participate. I believe, it is not only upto me or any individual to decide whether or not they want to be a part of this evolving media. For instance, many people will join Facebook just because it is popular among their friends and they want to give a try as well or maybe due to peer pressure. My level of participation is quite high and it begins by checking my emails, weather, Facebook and other applications first thing in the morning. As much as I used to show antagonistic attitude towards such modes of participation, I feel like I am somehow forced to be a part of it. Life seems very incomplete without having to participate digitally on regular basis. As mentioned, I was not a huge web based person but over time and gradually I have become a part of this participatory business especially due to the devices like smart phones, Ipads and Iphones. Because everything is so condensed in one little device, it has become even more convenient and thereby somehow obligatory to be a participant. My participatory practices have also evolved tremendously overtime. It all started with MSN chats with friends from school and slowly progressed to having contacts with relatives and friends on Facebook and having hands on more advanced technology like a smart phone.

          Participatory culture if on one hand has proven to be beneficial and advantageous to us, then on the other hand it also comes with its downfalls. As far as the affordances are concerned, there are many examples that could be given to support this side of the argument. Due to the media like Facebook, Skype, Whats App etc. people are able to communicate with their family/friends and therefore by participating in such ways, users are at an advantage of having a sense of closeness to their loved ones. Now, user participation via e-mails is another good point about digital participation because it has allowed us to progress sufficiently in academia and one of many fast ways of communication. Although, obviously there are numerous issues concerned with emailing systems such as hacking, problems of virus in computer and such but we accept the benefits over few risks. The ‘not so good’ side of digital participation or the constraints include for example, the issue of privacy and unwanted advertisements every time we open our browsers. Schäfer (2011) highlights on the same issue by giving an example of Flickr and Yahoo. Schäfer (2011) termed this ‘socio-technical ecosystem’ where ‘users interact not only with each other on web applications, they also interact with the software design and the underlying structure of databases management systems”. (Schäfer, 2011, p.18). Similarly, from a daily observation, we see so many people including young children, adults contributing so much of their valuable time on digital participation including playing Facebook games which can be very addictive and can lead to negative consequences in one’s life. Such a high user participation especially among students leads to poor time management skills and failure to devote time to their textbooks and studies. Schäfer (2011) also enlists factors contributing to digital participation. One of such factors is “the qualities of related technologies,..”. (Schäfer, 2011, p.14). An example of such can be smart phones where every form of media may be downloaded and resulting in digital participation made convenient and accessible at all times. In conclusion, there are both perspectives to the participatory culture and it somehow has everybody involved and participate at some level.

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