Participatory culture is a bit of an odd phenomenon. I know about it mostly through Henry Jenkins‘ book, Convergence Culture
, but until recently, I’d never seen a very good professional example of it. Sure, there are smaller fan-based works and online series that incorporate this , but that I’ve now found a well done professional example of it, I’m quite happy.
I speak, of course, of the Old Spice guy.
Those of you who subscribe to him on Youtube will already be familiar with it. He had a wonderful back and forth with Alyssa Milano, after all. He took questions from Twitter, Facebook, Youtube comments and other places I can’t name off the top of my head from users of all sorts. He even went a little meta.
Now to explain. Paricipatory Culture is when the fans, haters or general observers of something become an active part of contributing to it, whether they necessarily realize it or not. Many times, they will come to realize their part in the property quickly. In this case, fans contributed questions and the Old Spice guy tore down the fourth wall to respond to them.
It’s not necessarily an easy thing to do. Constraints need to be made to preserve whatever narrative or structure the base property requires. If you can find a way to balance it out, though, it can turn into quite a bit of fun.