With media futurist Jamais Cascio predicting content being produced predominantly peer to peer, the move to understanding the relationship between media producers, audiences and the participartory culture has risen. Web blogs, discussion groups and forums - all social networking forums - enable audiences to engage actively with media to aid an informed society in a connected world, through user participation (Jenkins, 2002).
The relationship between producers and audiences has undergone significant transformation. The tools that are emerging allow users to work together, openly and transparently with media producers for mutual betterment. Take for instance YouTube and Flickr . These are user generated programs, and act as a form of participation that has inspired a collaborative effort between media producers and audiences, altering the distribution of power.
The emergence of new interactive software, such as web 2.0 indicates a power shift between media producers and audiences, enabling users to have more control over the media that they consume.
"The world of Web 2.0 is also the world of what Dan Gillmor calls "we, the media," a world in which "the former audience", not a few people in a back room, decides what's important." - Tim O'Reilly (2005)The trend towards a participatory culture as reiterated by Jamais Cascio as a marketing concept employed by media producers to harness collective intelligence of the audience (Jenkins, 2002)
Henry Jenkins notes that increasingly media producers are embracing the active audience, and using audience knowledge as part of their marketing power (Jenkins, 2002). Producers are sourcing greater feedback from their audiences and are integrating a participatory approach by allowing audiences to generate their own content into their design processes.
Recently there has been movement away from concepts such as Battle of the Bands, by which the public could participate by turning up to gigs and offering crowd support to their preferred band where ultimately the judges would decide on the outcome. Now days we see the same concept emerging in a new interactive approach with television shows such as X-Factor, Australian Idol and Unsigned Bands giving the power back to the consumer to decide on the outcome.
Take for instance the Big Brother concept. Here we see the public shaping social views (produsers). The power, once in the hands of major conglomerates has been given back to the consumers, empowering them to participate and essentially develop the marketing concepts for them. The promise of participation helps build consumer investments (Jenkins, 2006).
The new technologies are breaking down old barriers between media consumption and media production. The new digital environment has expanded the audience’s ability to produce their own media products in combination with media producers. While the opportunities for a networked community will continue to expand, media producers will need to tailor functions and formats to match the technology of the time to their target market – their audience.
Cascio, J. 2006. The New World, the Rise of the New Culture of Participation. The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. November 15, 2006. http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/cascio20061115/ (accessed 3 April, 2008)
Flew, Terry. 2005. Virtual Cultures in Flew, Terry, New Media: An Introduction, Melbourne: OUP, pp. 61-82.
Jenkins, H. (2006). Introduction: Worship at the altar of Convergence in Jenkins, Henry, Convergence Culture: When new and old media collide, New York: New York University, pp. 1-24
Jenkins, H. (2002) "Interactive Audiences?" in D. Harries (ed) The New Media Book, London:BFI Publishing, pp 157-170
Jenkins, H. (2006) :Buying into American Idol: How We Are Being Sold on Reality Television," Convergence Culture, New York: New York University Press, pp. 59-92