Director of MIT’s

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“You’ve got fifteen seconds, impress me. ” It is with this phase that we can start to understand just how great the power of the audience is becoming. An ordinary young male, with regular clothes and scruffy hair is the poster child for the new interactive audience. He, just like the rest of us determines what, when, and how he watches the media. (Nightingale and Ross, 2006) He is a media consumer, perhaps a media fan, but can also be a media producer, distributor, publicist and critic. We are in a new transmission, where an old media system is dying and a new media system is being born.

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An era where sceptical culture is giving way to participatory culture, where a society based on a small number of companies controlling the story telling apparatus is giving way to a much more complex media scope, where average citizens have the ability to seize control over the media technology and tell their own stories in a powerful new way. (Jenkins, H 2007 Blog) Henry Jenkins a well-known university professor and is the founder and Director of MIT’s comparative media studies program. Author of several books he is well-known for his media research on fans and fan communities.

He believes that fans as the pioneers of cyberculture that without fans – there would be no such thing as cyberspace. This essay focuses on the internet as a new interactive audience, the introduction of participatory culture to the internet in relation to fanfiction and youtube, collective intelligence and lastly the essay will explain Jenkins reasons behind why he thinks fans are indeed pioneers of cyberculture. The internet, once created for users to freely upload photos, videos and written publications – now has become almost a necessity in our lives. Communication has become stronger and more freely available to the average user.

Email allows for an almost instant form of communication. The amount of information available on the net- with a single click is incredible. So many companies have invested in the internet as a necessity to their company’s success; website after website about anything and everything- available at a drop of a hat. New technological advances have emerged from the internet- internet banking, instant messenger, youtube videos; internet available on mobile phones etc. We move into a participatory culture where the user is in control of what they do, who they communicate with and within seconds can be in and out of your website.

Because of this, companies are required to invent new ways of maintaining this audience – new approaches to captivate an audience who will look at your website for more than two seconds. This progression of the internet has allowed internet networks to increase speed and availability (mobile phones). The internet to moving away from consumer culture- where the viewers consume what they see and move to a more interactive culture-participatory culture. In participatory culture, the public do not act as consumers only, but also as contributors and participants.

Going back over thousands of decades of human history -the most important stories were retold many times around the campfire -they belong to the folk. As we move to the 20th century, those images now belong to major media companies who claim exclusive ownership of them. What we’re seeing in the digital age, is the public taking media into their own hands and begin to believe they have the right to retell those stories. The public are taking the media without the permission of the copyright owners and innervating, experiencing, recontextualising and responding to those images in new ways.


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