PLAYBACK: Video Games and Participatory Culture on NPR
12.28.09 | Video Games And Participatory Culture: In an interview on NPR, Heather Chaplin talks with University of Southern California professor Henry Jenkins and other experts about video games and participatory culture. A full transcript is available online.
The story covers games such as LittleBigPlanet and Spore that make it possible for kids to become animators, music makers, game updaters—and marketers. The experts weigh in on who benefits when consumers are participants and creators in the culture they consume.
Prof. JENKINS: But the company is not giving us economic compensation for that value, right? If you had to hire a marketer, you’d pay them. If you hired an artist, you’d pay them. But in this case, little Jimmy is both an artist and a marketer and he’s getting nothing out of the revenue that’s brought in for that company.
CHAPLIN: Of course, little Jimmy is probably having an awfully good time even if he’s helping Electronic Arts keep game cost down. But new media expert McKenzie Wark says there’s something insidious about this kind of fun. He says it’s really corporations co-opting and profiting from are natural drive to be creative.
Mr. MCKENZIE WARK (New Media Expert): Well, it might be creativity, but somebody is still extracting a rent from it. And the question you might ask is: Who gets the rent?
CHAPLIN: Still, Henry Jenkins picks creating with corporate controlled products over sitting blankly in front of the TV set. It is a way of influencing the culture, he says, or at least gives us a fighting chance.
Note that aspiring game designers can receive awards for their work as part of the 2010 Digital Media and Learning Competition. This year’s competition will award prizes for the creation of new gaming experiences with LittleBigPlanet or Spore that “incorporate and leverage principles of science, technology, engineering, and math for learning.” Details are available at the competition’s website.
Plus: For a more in-depth conversation with Jenkins about participatory culture and its influence on civic activism, read Chaplin’s Q&A with Jenkins published on Spotlight.
Helping Children Find What They Need on the Internet: A study on children and keyword searching yielded interesting insights that are being used to help both children and adults with online searches.
More than 80 children, ages 7, 9 and 11, participated in a survey sponsored by Google and developed by the University of Maryland and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. The research, reports The New York Times, “was aimed at discerning the differences between how children and adults search and identify the barriers children face when trying to retrieve information.”
“Search engines are typically developed to be easy for everyone to use. Google, for example, uses the Arial typeface because it considers it more legible than other typefaces,” writes Stefanie Olsen. “But advocates for children and researchers say that more can be done technologically to make it easier for young people to retrieve information. What is at stake, they say, are the means to succeed in a new digital age.”
Benjamin Feshbach, 13, would like search engines to get more involved in the process—“I think there should be a program where Google asks kids questions about what they’re searching for, like a Google robot.”
To Deal With Obsession, Some Defriend Facebook: The New York Times reports on teens who are limiting their time on Facebook to focus on school work and to reconnect with friends offline. Katie Hafner writes:
In her coming book, “Alone Together” (Basic Books, 2010), Sherry Turkle, a psychologist who is director of the Initiative on Technology and Self at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, discusses teenagers who take breaks from Facebook.
For one 18-year-old boy completing a college application, Professor Turkle said, “Facebook wasn’t merely a distraction, but it was really confusing him about who he was,” and he opted to spend his senior year off the service. He was burned out, she said, trying to live up to his own descriptions of himself. [...]
For Walter Mischel, a professor of psychology at Columbia University, who studies self-control and willpower, “what’s fascinating about this is that it involves spontaneous strategies of self-control, of trying to exert willpower after getting sucked into a huge temptation.”
According to the Nielsen Company, in October, Facebook reached 54.7 percent of people in the United States ages 12 to 17, up from 28.3 percent in October last year.
Plus: Watch what happens when high school students Terrence and Shani spend a whole day without Facebook.
The E-Book, the E-Reader, and the Future of Reading: Cushing Academy, a private co-ed boarding school in Ashburnham, Mass., is the first U.S. school to digitize its entire collection—a new “learning center” with laptop study stations and e-readers will replace the school’s 20,000-volume library.
“Cushing’s decisive step into the new world of reading has put it on the front lines of a battle between traditionalists, who see the glue-and-paper codex as a fundamental part of the learning experience, and e-reading evangelists, who argue that electronic reading – with its promise of limitless reach – is the logical next step for the 21st-century student,” writes Matthew Shaer in the Christian Science Monitor.
The story provides a comprehensive look at how e-books are changing books and readers, with input from scholars such as Alan Liu, a chairman and professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
“Today, we have a very constrained understanding of reading,” says Liu. “In the past, reading was a public act – there were public readings; newspapers were passed around in a pub. I think we’re going to start to shed the current notion of the reader as someone who’s locked into solo interaction with the text.”
The future of online reading, Liu adds, “is going to resemble a social-networking environment” where readers can instantly interact with the publisher, the author, and the text itself.
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