Not being well versed in theories around the roles of the audience, I spent some time reading up on it and found that Katz, Blulmer, Gurevitch’s (1973) Uses & Gratifications theory does well to address the relationship between audience and text in new media technologies (NMT). www.mediaknowall.com summaries Blulmer and Katz’s work to four audience/text purposes:
- Diversion - escape from everyday problems and routine.
- Personal Relationships - using the media for emotional and other interaction, eg) substituting soap operas for family life
- Personal Identity - finding yourself reflected in texts, learning behaviour and values from texts
- Surveillance - Information which could be useful for living eg) weather reports, financial news, holiday bargains
On a personal note, I can easily find myself using NMT within these purposes. I look NMTs like twitter as a diversion when killing time, to see what’s up, Google to help direct my search for support when creating class lectures or support for seed questions. Upon occasion, I see something I “like” in my traverses. Also get the sense that people use NMT such as Facebook a more “one-stop-shop” for all four purposes - diversion, personal relationships, identity, and surveillance. Youtube is excellent for diversion but less so for personal relationships. Wikipedia in its entirety would present an opportunity for all four as well – diversion when bored (read, create, edit, or comment on pages), develop relationship to those creators behind the scenes, to new users as the comes in to add content, create an identity within the culture, draw out new things from the viewing of diverse pages.
How have new media technologies resulted in a more participatory media culture? Simply put, NMT provides the opportunity by its ability to provide access to the masses and for contribution from the masses. Gone are the days of only specialist publishing (the scribes, the telegraph employees, the book publishers) transformed by NMT to a world where Epictetus', Greek Stoic philosopher, words can be actualized by and for the masses "If you wish to be a writer, write".
With the prolific nature of Web 2.0, I would say that it has increase the number of eyeballs and the number of contributions but not necessarily the quality of the contributions. What I mean here is that much of what exists in NMT makes me think of Metcalfe’s Law is a redirect: that retweet of someone’s work, an article with a link to a great video, a new study, a new interview, a like or dislike thumbs up/down, a comment in response to presented ideas…
However, I think this is all relative - I am thinking of Pareto’s “80/20” law…
- Of the audience, 80% are the are readers, 20% are participatory
- Of the 20% “participatory”, 80% are “reposters”, 20% are content generators
- Of the 20% content generators, 80% are reworking already established ideas (ie newspaper articles, Wikipedia content adders) 20% are creating orginal content.
In a nutshell, I think NMT is further reaching - but this is relative across the level of participation... I propose it remains in a constant 80/20 balance.
Katz, E., Blumler, J. G., & Gurevitch, M. (1973). USES AND GRATIFICATIONS RESEARCH. Public Opinion Quarterly, 37(4), 509.
No author. (n.d). Key Concepts in Media Studies. In http://www.mediaknowall.com. Retrieved February 9, 2012, from http://www.mediaknowall.com/as_alevel/alevkeyconcepts/alevelkeycon.php?pageID=audience.