In this white paper, Jenkins and collaborators argue for participatory culture as a tool against youth apathy (Buckingham, 2000) and the digital divide. Per Livingstone and Bober (2005), the digital divide isn’t about access, but speed, site, quality, support — the extent to which the Net is engaging and rich. Per Wartella, O’Keefe and Scantlin (2000), we should emphasize technologies less, and skills and content access more to undermine the current class distinction.
The authors see three challenges, thus reasons, for policy and education interventions:
- the participation gap: it’s not just about access to the technologies, it’s about the human capital necessary to effectively articulate their capabilities
- the transparency problem: the world is layered with layers of media — critical reflection is necessary for youth to see through and to media’s often warped messaging
- the ethics challenge: without training, young people are hindered from assuming public roles in community engagement and media production
As remedy, book advocates for an ecological approach to media technologies and communities, and for youth media education that develops skills, knowledge, moral frameworks, and self-confidence. Defined, “participatory culture” has (1) relatively low limits to creative expression and civic engagement, (2) a strong creative and sharing support, (3) informal mentoring of the uninitiated, (4) participants who believe their input matters, and (5) that they share social connections with others. Participatory culture education shifts literacy emphasis from the individual and to the collective. They are also interested in the terms affiliations, expressions, collaborative problem solving, and circulations.
Per Jenkins et al., we need new media education, the literacies of which, “a set of cultural competencies and social skills that young people need in the new media landscape” (xiii). These skills build on and complement the traditional literacy, critical thinking, and technical training already learned in the classroom.
These new media literacies are:
- play: experimenting offers a new way into problem solving
- performance: assuming other identities fosters improvisation and learning
- simulation: evaluating and reconstructing real-world operations
- appropriation: making something one’s own through remixing and reinterpretation
- multitasking: zeroing in on primary concerns
- distributed cognition: interacting with tools so as to augment current cognitive capabilities
- collective intelligence: pooling and sharing knowledge for common purpose
- judgment: assessing and determining information sources for their merit
- transmedia navigation: following information across various modalities
- networking: searching, synthesizing, and sharing intelligence
- negotiation: traveling through various communities, respecting their viewpoints, and comprehending other norms