Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Media Platforms Pumping Out Participatory Prosumers

Some of the most intriguing reading is that of Mark Deuze in "Convergence Culture in the Creative Industries," who plucks some kernels of meaning from the notions of hybridity, odorless cultural content and familiar distance. These three concepts, all involving the blending of two distinct cultures into another, third-party culture or product can be viewed with a strategic lens. In many regards, these terms are applied when one entity is attempting to adapt products to various global markets, ensuring they will be successful worldwide. If a product can be altered to be in tune with a particular culture, and yet retain a somewhat universal appeal then the chances of the product having global demand is greater. We witness these tactics in commercials or ad campaigns all over the world from corporations selling everything from clothing to plane tickets.

But doesn't this all boil down to people?

Deuze adds a surprisingly human aspect to what seems to be a convoluted system of marketing, economic and business-driven tactics. Deuze claims that people worldwide are utilizing the same media platforms as larger entities to engage in what is called "participatory culture". This may not be such a novel concept, given the history of communication technologies and media allowing people to bridge connections, but Deuze goes one step further to say that people are much more dynamic than these communication tools may have intended for.

There are entire cultures that sprout out of the hardwirings of the Internet or the satellite signals of digital television - groups of people dispersed all over the globe that share a commonality forged from the media platforms they use. Some of the examples we used in class were the Comic-Con conference, global viewers participating in forums like LostTalk about the television show Lost and vampire-enthusiast cultures inspired by the Twilight book series. Readers, do not dismiss these phenomena as mere affirmation that geeky people exist all over the globe. There is something to this.

Take YouTube for example. The video broadcasting website is the epitome of participatory culture because users all over the world can upload their own content, view others' content and share that content using a number of other media platforms. This is an example of a platform that supports its users being "pro-sumers" or both producers of content and consumers simultaneously. Once in a while, certain videos can become so widely shared that they are said to "go viral" and are watched all around the world within a short period of time.

This is why when my friend and current roommate created the "Taco Bell Rap" video, he gained thousands of views in just two days (hits number over 2 million now) and even has videos created in response to his own original content from all over the world. This is truly participatory culture at work, where someone in the United States can have others access his content, resonate with it and respond in the same media platform, all of this occurring just by simply producing and consuming content - no advertising necessary! My roommate was even contacted by a certain fast food corporation (that shall remain nameless) to fly to California for a string of television commercials.

That leads me to wonder how marketing will change in the next few years, considering communicating with each other via these media platforms can sometimes be just as easy or in some cases more effective than ads. How will big-time advertising, public relations and media companies tailor their content to droves of pro-sumers who are all chattering amongst themselves anyway on YouTube, Twitter and the like? I would certainly like to see.

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