New Media Culture: Spreadability and Participation

CC image courtesy of Porsche Brosseau on Flickr

CC image courtesy of Porsche Brosseau on Flickr

In Jenkins, Ford, and Green’s “Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture,” they talk about the multitude of ways that content now circulates in the digital age. The sharing of materials has become more participatory, and the decisions we make about which media we want to share with others is shaping this new media landscape.

This shifting from corporate distribution of mass media to this more participatory circulation indicates:

“a movement toward a more participatory model of culture, one which sees the public not as simply consumers of preconstructed messages but as people who are shaping, sharing, reframing, and remixing media content in ways which might not have been previously imagined” (Jenkins, Ford, and Green 2).

The term participatory culture is now used to describe groups of people who create and distribute media to further the interests of that group. Spreading media through and across these groups allows the audiences of shared material to viewed by an exponential amount of people. Instantaneous sharing is something that new media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, along with other sites, now allow us to do. Most, if not all of us, probably often share links, videos, pictures, etc. with our various social media networks. Platforms like these certainly make it easier for media to spread through vast networks of people (i.e. the viral video).

CC image courtesy of mkhmarketing on Flickr

CC image courtesy of mkhmarketing on Flickr

Spreadability also puts an emphasis on content that is produced in formats that are easy to share such as how YouTube videos are able to be embedded into websites, allowing the videos to be viewed on that site without having to redirect to the YouTube site itself. The spreadable media texts should allow audiences to circulate the material for many different purposes and allow for them to alter the structure of the material when they share it. Spreadability values active audiences who can work to help create interest in the materials they are sharing, where they are able to share the media through any and all channels. Spreadable media also serves to blur the line between producer and consumer, hence the leaning towards a participatory culture (Jenkins, Ford, and Green 6-7).

Spreadable media is repositioned as it is shared:

“As material spreads, it gets remade: either literally, through various forms of sampling and remixing, or figuratively, via its insertion into ongoing conversations and across various platforms” (Jenkins, Ford, and Green 27).

Not only is media altered through obvious means of messing around with the original content through remixing, it also is changed based on where and when it was shared and who it was shared with. The material is altered based on the interests of the audience members. It’s easy to understand how one thing may be more appropriate to share with our close friends on Facebook than a potentially wider audience on Twitter. I know that I use Twitter to share a lot more things like articles relating to Film and New Media Studies because I know it will reach other people at Wheaton and other schools and other people interested in media with similar interests l who I may or may not be friends with on Facebook. I typically wouldn’t share that same stuff with people on Facebook because my Facebook network consists of many friends near and far with various interests as well as family members with various interests. The Facebook audience may not be the fitting one for those materials, but the Facebook audience may be more appropriate for more personal pictures or status updates. And, of course, there is a lot of crossover between all of the social networking sites of how and when and who should be the audience.


Jenkins, Henry, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green. Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. New York: New York UP, 2013.

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