Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

What Constitutes Meaningful Participation?, Part 2

Posted by nathanpowers22 on March 28, 2017

Chapter 4 of Spreadable Media tackles some interesting questions about participation in media on both ends of the spectrum, from “passive audiences” (are they really “passive?” Is “public” a better term given the collective, shared identities and values of fans?) to corporate entities (why do companies focus more on “hearing” instead of “listening” to critiques and complaints? What challenges are involved?). However, the part of this reading that I’ve been reflecting on the most is the “culture of surveillance” described and critiqued by Mark Andrejevic, but championed by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle. For me, as I’m sure is the case for anyone else aware, this idea of compiling and aggregating data wherever it can be found for the purpose of advertising is a frightening one. What’s worse, in light of the recent “Vault 7” leaks, this same market logic appears more powerful and widespread than ever before on a national scale. Between government infiltration of our smart phone cameras, television mics, and even our vehicles, the death knell of individual privacy seems to be ringing out as the vulnerabilities of modern technologies become exposed. While I will not pretend to know the first thing about any perceived “necessity” behind these actions, I would like to think there must be a better way, similar to what the authors of Spreadable Media argue for in “What Constitutes Meaningful Participation?.” Unfortunately, it’s almost certain that “the powers that be” suffer from a fragmentation problem far greater than that found in any individual corporation, which makes negotiating more responsive, active models of engagement with citizens nigh impossible from my perspective. I didn’t intend for this blog post to be a depressive indictment of our current state of affairs, so I won’t even go into the recent bill regarding Internet privacy, but I think these things are still important to consider (not necessarily in pop culture, but in general).


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