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New Media Technologies and User Empowerment

Series:

Jo Pierson, Enid Mante-Meijer and Eugène Loos

Recent developments in new media have led to the rise of what has become known as ‘social media’. The shift towards mass self-communication has lowered the technological thresholds for everyday users to connect and to become ‘produsers’ in media life. However, the question is to what extent users interacting in this ecosystem are empowered – and not disempowered – to express their creativity and concerns and to obtain a prominent role in new media design and innovation.

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Part 3: Differentiation in User Roles and Creativity

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Part 3 - Differentiation in User Roles and Creativity 142 143 Mijke Slot Web Roles Re-examined: Exploring User Roles in the Media Environment Introduction: From consumer to user “In changing the relations between media and individuals, the internet does not herald the rise of a powerful consumer. The internet heralds the disappearance of the consumer altogether.” (Shirky 2000) In the traditional media environment, users have primarily been consumers of content. By choosing, buying, interpreting and discussing media products, they have taken up roles at the end of the value chain. This consumption role has been separated from the creating, producing, gate-keeping and supplying roles of the mass media. In general, media producers do not allow audiences to easily communicate back to the creators or to participate in the value-creation process without invitation. The traditional mass media can therefore best be described by its one-way communication characteristic (Croteau & Hoynes 1997). In line with the arguments of Mante-Meijer and Loos in this volume, Shirky (2000) states that the internet has enabled users to change this static relationship. Over the past twenty years, new technologies, digitization, convergence and the spread and deployment of computers and the internet have changed the media landscape. With rapid speed, the internet has become an integral part of our daily lives (e.g. Silverstone & Hirsch 1992; Küng et al. 2008). Instead of a one- way channel, the internet provides a two-way channel through which users can “talk back” (Shirky 2000; Tapscott & Williams 2006; Leadbeater 2008; Van Dijck 2009)...

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