Topic 2.2: YouTube Creativity & Participatory Culture

In order to get started thinking through this area, when reading, please consider:

  1. Based on these readings and the unit so far, how would you define participatory culture? What are its most important elements?
  2. While the YouTube slogan ‘broadcast yourself’ is emblematic of participatory culture and of web 2.0 technologies, are they two things separable? Do the tools enable the culture or does the cultural need drive the construction of the tools (or do we need a more complex question)?
  3. The word ‘creativity’ is used a lot to talk about what amateurs and non-professional content creators are doing on YouTube, but what exactly is being created? What sorts of creativity are at work? Why do they matter?

Participatory culture is a culture where people do not only consume media but also produce it and publicly comment upon it. It is a culture of conversation, not a broadcasting medium and actively encourages participation from all people in all walks of life.

I believe the advent of new technologies allowed and then encouraged participatory culture initially, however now there is an expectation of being able to broadcast your thoughts and opinions to all and sundry. Where once, it was a lack of simple to use techs that prevented participatory culture, now the techs are so superflous that people would find ways to have a participatory culture even if there weren’t tech to facilitate it. In offline worlds, participatory culture is being seen more and more as people are making a stand, a conversation and a broadcast all in one. As Rosen says: We the people, formerly known as the Audience. And we no longer have an audience because we are all audience and we are all producers.

I don’t get the whole ‘what is creativity’ questions. You either create something or you don’t. If you create something then you have utilised creativity. It’s a simple concept people. If in doubt, consult a dictionary!

Core Reading

Wesch, M. (2008). An anthropological introduction to YouTube. Retrieved from (NB: 55mins)

Burgess, Jean (2008) ‘All your chocolate rain are belong to us?’ Viral Video, YouTube and the dynamics of participatory culture. In: Video Vortex Reader: Responses to YouTube. Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam, pp. 101-109.

Burgess, J., & Green, J. (2009). The Entrepreneurial Vlogger: Participatory Culture Beyond the Professional-Amateur Divide. In P. Vonderau & P. Snickars (Eds.), The YouTube Reader (pp. 89-107). National Library of Sweden.  [eReserve]

Jenkins, H. (2010, May 24). Why Participatory Culture Is Not Web 2.0: Some Basic Distinctions. Confessions of an Aca/Fan. Retrieved October 21, 2010, from


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