Participatory media includes community media, blogs, wikis, RSS, tagging and social bookmarking, music-photo-video sharing, mashups, podcasts, participatory video projects and videoblogs. All together they can be described as "e-services, which involve end-users as active participants in the value creation process".
Marshall MacLuhan discussed the participatory potential of media already in the 1970s but in the era of digital and social media, the theory of participatory culture becomes even more acute as the borders between audiences and media producers are blurring.
E. McLuhan (1988, p. ix) claimed that the four effects, laws of media and tetrad method was
“the single biggest intellectual discovery not
only of our time, but of at least the last couple
of centuries.” Whether or not this estimation is accurate, the fact remains that we already see the McLuhans’ projected communicative “revolution” going on around us, beside us and inside us at
the same time these days. The interiorization
of knowledge via ICTs is proof enough that “reflexivity” is something that goes hand-in-hand or ear-to-ear with the human extensions of the nervous system in the EI age.
Indeed, both McLuhans and Burawoy highly support the drive for freedom of individual and collective interpretations in the context of finding greater depth and meaning in human existence, self-understanding and inter-personal relations than what have been possible with previous “positivistic” scientific paradigms or interpretive strategies. “Human ability has become the
biggest untapped resource of the planet”, notes E. McLuhan (2010, p. 23). These three figures stand as champions for building on our innate human capacities, encouraging new potentials and exploring new possibilities for creative innovations and inventions.
A. R. Wallace (1890) took pains to identify human “selection”, the power of human choice, free
will, to communicate, beyond mere “natural selection”. This was his spiritual-humanitarian stand against Darwin’s and T.H. Huxley’s naturalistic agnosticism. To confess that “Adam” was not a real person, as many of Darwin’s and
Huxley’s followers have done, is tantamount nowadays to suggesting that humanity is in the process of being evolutionarily superseded by machines. To embrace Adam is to profess an anthropic understanding that no natural science is capable of superseding.
“The electric age obsolesces what we call civilization and returns us to Eden-in-reverse,” he writes. “The development of technology originally expelled us from
Eden; paradoxically, we cannot enter the new, electrically induced Eden without technology.” So we humans are cursed by technology in some ways as we are blessed by it in others. We are reminded of humanity in the tools of our creation, which reflect our primordial human (anthropic/Adamic) “nature” or “character”.
“All of our technologies extend our innate abilities to act, perceive, think, and remember. Since this is all we can do, this is what we ask technology to help us with. In brief, we make all our technologies
in our image. They imitate us.” It should be noted that E. McLuhan is not in any way deifying technology, as if it were “made in the image of God”, but rather distinguishing that technology is “made in the image of man”. Technology is a “human-made” thing, an “extension” of mankind.
“When technology extends one of our senses, a new translation of culture occurs as swiftly as the new technology is interiorized.” (MCLUHAN, 1960, p. 40).