Precautious Participation

Mirko Sahefer’s account Participation Inside? provides useful insights into the world of user participation in the web, specifically social interaction and content sharing.  As a result of the dominant presence of media and internet, the definition of participation has evolved from “the state of being connected to a larger whole” ( to, in reference to cultural studies, an “audiences engaging in culture by receiving, interpreting, and deconstructing media texts, and most recently through acts of appropriation and creation” (Shafer, 2008).  Therefore, participation is measured through interaction with and contribution to a variety of online arenas.  These arenas are constructed by those with the power to do so, providing the user with the ability to modify, create, and share digital content while regulating and controlling this participation.  Shafer questions this practice concluding “it will be necessary . . .  to critically analyze how software design affects user behavior and how power structures are reestablished through implementing participation into information systems” (2008).  The user believes they are in control, however Shafer, with this conclusion, asserts that their efforts are being controlled by those in power and these efforts serve to reinforce the structure of power.  Should we then be wary of online participation?

Leave a Reply