INFO 287: Context Book Assignment

By Laura Wertz

Spring 2020

For this assignment, I chose to read Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture by Henry Jenkins. I’ve always been interested in popular culture and was curious to see how it could be tied to our class concepts. After working through module four this week on participatory service and transparency, it is easy to see where library services and popular culture/fandom intersect. A quote from this very author is used in Professor Stephens lecture and clearly quantifies participatory culture. “The term participatory culture, is intended to contrast with older notions of media spectatorship. In this emerging media system, what might be traditionally understood as media producers and consumers are transformed into participants” (Jenkins, n.d.). Libraries are learning to meet the diverse and varied needs of different communities and patrons.

This book explores the ways in which fans, bloggers, and gamers interact with the material they are passionate about, other fans, and the world around them. The book journeys through the early days of fandom, convention events, and finally the evolution of technology and digital media. Jenkins (2006) defines three trends that are shaping participatory culture in fan communities.

  1. New tools and technologies enable consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media content;
  2. A range of subcultures promote Do-It-Yourself (DIY) media production, a discourse that shapes how consumers have deployed those technologies; and
  3. Economic trends favoring the horizontally integrated media conglomerates encourage the flow of images, ideas, and narratives across multiple media channels and demand more active modes of spectatorship. (p. 142)

These three trends are similar to what is taking place in libraries today with the adoption of new technologies in the form of maker spaces, digital tables, or video games to name a few.

Furthermore, in this week’s module lecture, Professor Stephens spoke a lot about involving patrons in the brainstorming and decision making as much as possible in order to create a library that meets the needs and desires of the community. Jenkins (2006), describes a perfect example of this taking place at LucasArts in the form of a Star Wars multiplayer online game. The game designers created a web page early on in the design phase where fans could post feedback to the designers ideas. (p. 155) This anecdote lines up with the three tenants of participatory service that we strive to produce in libraries. It engages users, offers them a chance to plan with designers, and offers a mechanism for feedback in the form of the webpage. It is a sign of transparency and participatory culture, as well as a form of radical trust allowing potential users to be a part of the process.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was interesting to explore popular culture and fandom through the lens of library and information services. There were many different aspects that could be applied to class concepts, and I look forward to carrying them forward in my own career.

References

Jenkins, H. (2006) Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. New York University Press

Stephens, M. (n.d.) Module 4: Participatory Service & Transparency. Retrieved from https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=35b4e981-cd58-479a-96d3-aab3011b0f24

Published in: on February 14, 2020 at 9:40 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Hi,

    I thought your example of the Star Wars multiplayer online game really intriguing. Since I don’t own a console, and don’t know anyone in the gaming community, I always feel like I am totally in the dark about all things in that community and tend to brush aside its significance from my own lack of ignorance. Thanks for showing me that there’s more depth and connectivity within that community than I realized!


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