Understanding, fostering, and supporting cultures of participation

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Citation: Gerhard Fischer (2011) Understanding, fostering, and supporting cultures of participation. ACM (RSS)
DOI (original publisher): 10.1145/1962438.1962450
Semantic Scholar (metadata): 10.1145/1962438.1962450
Sci-Hub (fulltext): 10.1145/1962438.1962450
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): Understanding, fostering, and supporting cultures of participation
Tagged: cultures of participation (RSS)


Social production and mass collaboration based social computing has enabled a transformation from consumer culture to participatory culture. While innovative technological developments are a necessary condition they are not sufficient. Alterations in human behaviour and social organisation are required to ensure that there is active contribution resulting from adaptation of existing technologies and collaborative construction of knowledge.

The paper identifies several problems such as problems of magnitude, systemic nature, ill-defined problems and problems that are dynamic and unique to certain conditions. The democratisation of design and innovation enables a socio-technical environment that is conducive for users to become designers and producers along with being consumers. The major elements of the framework to enable "prosumers" are meta-design, social creativity and richer ecologies of participation. Meta-design has further characteristics of being free as in libre content, which is modifiable and sharable, where changes can be easily made, benefits of using such a system are obvious and a framework that is conducive for productive engagement and adaptation of tools. Underdesign characterised by 'designing artifacts at design time' is another key feature of meta-design.

Social creativity assumes that different people can contribute to the creative process at varying levels and that people engaging with ideas and interacting with each other actually contributes to the creative process and not the previously perceived isolated individuals.

Ecologies of participation assumes that there are five levels of participation and people transition between these levels based on their motivation levels. The 'seeding, evolutionary growth, and reseeding (SER)' model has been adopted to promote richer ecologies of participation. The included objectives are "low threshold and high ceiling", scaffolding, channels to allow communication and interaction between the different participating entities. The paper takes into consideration diversity and the necessity for a paradigm shift in learning and education.

Drawbacks: 1. Few people take the responsibility of doing all the work, 2. determination of specific applications of culture of participation.

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

Free/Open source software is an ideal example for cultures of participation.