What do social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr have in common?
Participants like you and me.
Whether it’s the browsing, uploading, commenting of content (includes videos, photographs, URLs to 3rd party information, status updates about what we are doing, what we like or dislike etc), these sites will not be ‘successful’ if it isn’t for our involvement. Does the need to be heard, to have an outlet to express ourselves, fuel the success of these sites or is it that their existence provided us the platform to share our ideas, views, beliefs, basically to be seen and/or heard?
Web 2.0 as defined by Tim O’Reilly (2005) is a generation of web-based services that put emphasis on social networking, collaboration and participation. These key concepts are important in helping us understand the internet users of today, the “participatory media culture” phenomenon and perhaps bring us a step closer to determine whether the chicken or the egg came first.
So what is this ‘participatory culture’ all about?
It involves everything that we do on a day-to-day basis (almost). From the status updates on Facebook; shouting out the activities we are involved in, ‘talking about’ the issues that stir our emotions at that very moment. The comments we leave behind on our friends pages, the ‘liking’ of a friend’s picture, comments.
These actions and/or information nuggets shared are what we deem as important. They are issues we are passionate about, matters that are close to our hearts. We feel the need to announce, advertise to everyone, to ‘benefit’ the people we know, by keeping them “in the loop”. At times, we get feedback (comments) from the people in our social network(s), mainly friends, telling us if they ‘like’ the content they see, asking questions they probably have in relation to the content posted, expressing the feelings evoked and even share their point of view.
Just what is it that you and i have in common as participants of these social networking sites?
We want to be heard and/or seen. Whether the creators of original content or the respondents/broadcasters of existing content, we simply cannot fathom the idea of not sharing, voicing out.
Hence, in bid to explore the “participatory media culture” of Singapore Youths, we agree that the selection of Stomp
is a representative local media text to aid our study in understanding the psyche of these ‘Stompers‘ (primarily content providers and/or respondents of the ‘Singapore Seen‘ segment), their role as citizen journalists and in the process, (re)discover the Singaporean Identity.
As Henry Jenkins (2006: 3) puts it, this ‘participatory culture’ no longer sees media producers and consumers occupying separate roles but them as participants who interact with each other according to a new set of rules that no one fully understands.
How would this ‘participatory culture’ impact the ‘quality’ of news and journalism that we have become accustomed to? Or perhaps its emergence would satisfy our inner desire of being acknowledged as the ‘professional broadcaster’, to be taken seriously.