Storify of my presentation- online participation and user-generated content

Here is the link to my storify:


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UGC and participation

Jönsson & Örnebring (2011) and Tacchi (2012) apparently have different views about participation.

Jönsson & Örnebring (2011) have developed a nine-field matrix to analyze online newspaper websites. The matrix is composed of two parts: degree of participation and type of user-generated content. The degree of participation has three levels: low, medium, and high. User-generated content also consist of three elements: information-oriented content, entertainment/popular culture-oriented content, and personal/social/expressive-oriented content.  Since their research result shows that users are mostly empowered to generate popular culture-oriented content and personal life-oriented content rather than news/informational content, the authors regard participation and UGC as a paradox. Participation does empower users to generate content in the newspaper; however, the fact that what they create are mostly about pop culture and private life limits UGC provision only to the realm of user-as-consumer. When it comes to user-as-citizens, users are once again restricted in the reactive position: we write, you read and possibly comment. Therefore, Jönsson & Örnebring (2011) critically conclude that the role of UGC-active user-as-consumers dominates over a weak role of UGC-active user-as-citizens.

Tacchi (2012) is more positive about the role of participation in its political and social potential. Based on Finding a Voice project in Asia, Tacchi (2012) found out that participatory content creation could bring social action and changes as well as engage the marginalized people in ways that suit their needs. In addition, Tacchi (2012) stresses the importance of valuing voice and effective listening to alternative knowledge and then transfers from ICT to ICT4D. In his view, open Internet Communication Technology for Development focuses on open social rearrangement and therefore the more people participate, the more possible social changes would happen.


In my view, the points in both articles are reasonable.  Even though they have different attitudes towards participation, it is because their assumptions are built on different social and cultural background. Jönsson & Örnebring (2011) are discussing reader-media relations in developed countries of Britain and Sweden which have relatively developed democracy, economy, and citizen awareness; while Tacchi (2012) build his research on a project in developing countries of Asia where social rearrangement is more potential.

In addition, Jönsson & Örnebring research on the mainstream media while Tacchi’s study is built on a project specially designed, which could also generate their different but reasonable views. Mainstream media in Britain and Sweden have developed their own operating formats of news production for a long time. Even with the rapid development of UGC, it is set in mainstream media that “we write and you read,” especially when it comes to tricky issues like politics or economics. However, in Tacchi’s research, the project Finding a Voice is an experiment project about user-generated content and its influence on social development. Therefore it is no wonder that the results are much more “promising”.


Thought I agree with the authors’ views of participation in both articles, I don’t think both forms of participation would result the same in their individual social and political background. I don’t think any meaningful changes would happen in Britain and Sweden, at least in the short-term. This is because these two countries are so developed and static. Besides, readers’ participation in mainstream media are not that urgent. If people want to express something, at least they have social media to speak out their opinions. On the other hand, however, changes in Asia might be more promising. This is because social rearrangement and marginalized people’s interest are both needy in these countries.  Once the project provides an outlet of participation, it is promising that more participation would bring meaningful changes.


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Remix comments

My comments for this week:

(sorry I didn’t make my remix video this week)

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Crowdsourcing: education equality and

I always think inequality is an enduring phenomenon in any society. However, what is good about democracy is that it guarantees the same possibility for people, even though not all of them could grasp the opportunity and make the possibility into reality.  Crowdsourcing, for me, is a good way to shake this kind of unevenness by aggregating the intelligence of people, especially ordinary people.


Education is my biggest concern with regard to the issue of equal opportunity.  In my motherland China, unbalanced education resources exist between rural area and urban area, between the East and the West, and even between the “excellent” students and the “bad” students. I think unfairness also exists in America (because I also heard about how important it is to live near a good school here). Differences in faculty, academic and teaching resources, and community environment could all influence the students’ personal development. Most importantly, to educate means not only to teach knowledge per se, but also to mentor and guide the next generation, technically and spiritually. What I care most is how to mentor the youth regardless of unbalanced education resources.


That’s why I chose Mytonomy. It is a website for guidance counselor which aims to make collage preparation and career readiness far more accessible. Besides, it is a near-peer network where students are learning from those who are only several degrees closer. On Mytonomy, there are altogether three parts: Under the category of High School, college students give advice to high school teenagers; Under the category of College, educators mentor the college students; under the category of Career, professionals give suggestions to college and even high school students.


Mytonomy attracts different groups of people (high school students, college students, educators, professionals etc.) for many reasons. One, which accords with Anderson (2009), is its framework, even though this is not for database programming. Each one who wants to give advice and upload a video should follow the procedure of Mytonomy to ensure the consistency of the video format as well as the utility and practicality of the video content.


Both Anderson and Brabham say that having fun is an effective motivation. Mytonomy is interesting because of the same reason of YouTube—camera shooting can always bring pleasure.


Brabham’s opinions tell more about what’s deep behind people’s behavior of shooting and uploading these videos. First is to be recognized by peers. Since MyTonomy is a near-peer website, the sense of peer-recognition is relatively strong. Self-expression is another motivation. Through videos, people can even make gestures and expressions and thus strengthen their feeling of showing themselves. Also, low barriers to entry, ease of use, and perceptions of an appealing, usable Web site are the essential reasons for people to rush in and upload their videos.

For those who watch the videos, to advance one’s career and to learn new skills and knowledge are their motivations. However, since Mytonomy provides little chance for communication, I don’t see these two are the reasons for people to upload videos.




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Elections and citizen journalism: still a long way to go

The article written by Akoh & Ahiabenu mainly utilizes case studies to introduce the African Election Project covered in ten African countries, which is established on the collaboration between professional journalists and citizen journalists. The article written by Kaufhold et al., however, is a survey which examines whether citizen journalism could play the same role in political knowledge and participation as professional journalism.

Though both dealing with the relationship between democratic politics and citizen journalism, the authors of these two articles build their perspectives from different media landscape in Africa and the United States: Akoh & Ahiabenu focus more on enhancing the skills and development of citizen journalism through training, developing an election guide, building online information portal and so on; Kaufhold et al. appear to be more positive about the current situation of citizen journalism and focus more on discussing whether it also has the same effect on political knowledge and participation as professional journalism.


In my motherland China, we don’t have so transparent political elections or so free media landscape as the United States. Many people think the government of China exerts an intense control over the politics as well as media. However, it is China’s large population and limited resources that make central control necessary.

Even though, the trends of new media and democracy are still on their way in China, especially when citizen journalism booms. People have more access to political reports and tend to participate more in politics. I believe similar things are happening in anywhere around the world, with different levels of influence.  As what Kaufhold et al. point out in their article, citizen journalism promotes political knowledge and participation. Citizen journalists could report and write on the Internet and it fills the gap of traditional journalism where there exist national or regional interest and bias. In regard to political election, I think non-journalist participating allows for reporting from numerous perspectives and therefore the information to be disseminated will be beyond bias to certain extent. Also, since people who have higher levels of trust in citizen journalism will tend to get more involved in politics (Kaufhold et al., 2010),  non-professional journalism not only makes the reports of election more impartial, but also encourages more people to participate in the political activity per se. As a result, politics will change and democracy for all people will be possible.


However, I don’t see it will become reality in the near future and I think the development of democracy is not even at all. Just as Akoh & Ahiabenu have suggested, the disadvantaged equipment and skills of these citizen journalists may hinder their influence in media landscape. “Lack of access to real-time information, low access to Internet and appropriate bandwidth, lack of capacity for investigative journalism (especially during the elections process), inability to produce balanced reports and low-level user-generated content” (Akoh & Ahiabenu, 2012) could also be the comparative disadvantages of citizen journalism in developed countries such as the United States.  For example, the capability of CNN’s field reporters is still superior to that of Global Voice, no matter how Global Voice is influencing nowadays. There is still a long way to go for citizen journalism.


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Viral online media — Greenpeace’s creative ad videos in online campaign

I’ve heard about Kony 2012 even when I was in China. However, this is the first time I watched it. I must admit, despite of all the disputes that it simplified the situation or it was a waste of resource, this film is really touching and mobilizing. It fits with Berger & Milkman’s social transmission theory in several ways. First, the idea it transmits includes not limited to the miserable life of these invisible children in Uganda, but also how the voice got heard by the White House and then U.S. troops were sent to protect these children, after eight years’ continuous efforts. Therefore, it gives hope and it is positive. In addition, it aroused angry towards Joseph Kony as well as pity towards little kids in Uganda. All these emotions are negative but high-arousal, so they are also likely to get viral on YouTube.

The article written by Berger & Milkman is interesting to me because it talks about the psychological mechanism of the sharing behavior in cyberspace. Its main idea is that valence (positive or negative) and level of arousal could affect people’s emotions and thus influencing their behavior of clicking the sharing button.

Since I’m interested in online campaigns launched by Greenpeace, the case I found is about Greenpeace’s campaign against the use of coal in storing and transmitting data by Apple, Amazon and Microsoft.  The items shared throughout this campaign include four videos.  I found two articles covering this campaign.  One is Greenpeace: Apple has the dirtiest data, the other is Apple’s green image continues to be dirtied. Greenpeace criticized Amazon, Apple and Microsoft because their data centers store and send data by using coal – the oldest, dirtiest power source.

The content of Apple – Introducing iCoal is an artificial Apple ad introducing an App called iCoal; in the other three ads, people are using the products of Apple’s uploading picture function, Amazon’s e-book and Microsoft’s business function while a group of coal miners are working hard in the “cloud”, being choked.

(This one link is a list of these four videos)

These videos all give rise to high-level of anxiety and even angry among viewers. That is to say, people are likely to share these videos because they feel mentally connected with the serious problems of coal using in data storage and transition. This apply to the main ideas of Berger & Milkman(2012).

Berger & Milkman also point out that more interesting and surprising content is more viral. In the case of these videos, they all look like the real ads by Apple, Amazon and Microsoft initially; however, it turned out the content is to go against these companies, in a creative way.  In this process, viewers, except for getting shocked about the environment problems, are also amazed at the wonderful design of these “ads”. So they would like to click the “share” button.

What I found, which may be not so applied to Berger and Milkman’s theory, is the fact that these videos are not “positive” because they are almost talking all about the seriousness of environmental issues. However, since Berger & Milkman also said that both positive and negative information could be viral, I think these videos are not actually against the results in their article.


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Media Diary Day 7: Media Life never ends

This is the last day for my media diary. I spent almost the whole day reading this week’s assigned articles and writing the blog post on my laptop. Occasionally I E-mailed with my presentation partner for the theory class, discussing about our activities in class. This week’s assignment is a fantastic one for me, so even though I have too many things undone, I still allocate one day for it. I searched on Twitter for scholars in the field of Internet study and got valuable information about how to seek a career in Internet research. After I finished the blog post, I felt a little dizzy because of the computer radiation. So I decided to relax myself.

It turned out I opened a video on my iphone, just changing from a big screen to a smaller one. It is about a popular entertainment program in China. Basically, entertainment celebrities are invited to this program and they play amusing competition games with the hosts. When I watched it, I kept visiting the Sina Weibo of these celebrities, which just reminds of me the article written by Marwick and Boyd!

In the evening I napped for a while and then continued to work on my exam and presentation for next week. I read the printed textbook and then turned on my laptop again searching for a case study to use in my presentation. It was really a tough weekend but I’m now handling it well, though intensely. Before going to bed, I’ll make an international call with my parents.


This week’s media diary writing does inspire me a lot. I find I’m easy to get distracted. I always opened one window after another and found myself far away from what I was doing. This situation happened almost every time when I used a laptop. However, if I am reading on iphone, I’m more concentrated; also if I am doing other things (cooking or exercising) while watching an Open University course or TED talk, I’m more concentrated and I can even think more! Maybe I can rearrange my media schedule hereafter.

I also recognize two obstacles for my media life in English world. One is that I read English articles too slowly. There is no way for me to skip through the article and understand the major points just in a few minutes. I have to read word by word; otherwise I would miss or even misunderstand the points. The other is I might be a good receiver, but I’m a terrible communicator, especially orally. Both are affecting my efficiency in absorbing information negatively. I may need to improve my English more actively, or I could never adapt to the rapidly changing media world in U.S.

Actually this week I have been a little busy because I have to prepare for next week’s test and presentation. Normally, I’ll have a more colorful media life: I’ll learn to use Photoshop through an online-course in Chinese and watch more TED talks, Opening University courses and cooking videos on iphone; besides, I’ll read Google Reader every day. I enjoy my digital media life a lot. It provides me an open access to what I want to learn. Every time I learn something new and resonate with it, I’ll feel more than excited. Maybe this is how it feels when what you are doing is what you love. 

Here is a song I love most recently, which can express my feelings now towards my life. 

It’s living in the moment by Jason Mraz. 


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