UGC and Participation

Undoubtedly, both Jönsson and Örnebring (2011) and Tacchi (2012) recognize the potential of UGC to empower citizens by enabling them to create and share their content. Nevertheless, their approaches to the notion of participation are very different. Jönsson and Örnebring’s analysis of UGC on online British and Sweden newspapers shows that the traditional gatekeeping and newsgathering practices taking place in media organizations make it difficult for users to fully participate in the process of content production. Thus, as the authors pointed out, users are seen by the mainstream media as active consumers of content rather than as participants. In other words, even when users are allowed to create their own content, they are not actually participating because media organizations still control the whole process of content selection and use.


By contrast, Tacchi’s approach to participation seems to be more optimistic. In providing various examples of the “Find a Voice research project, he demonstrated that ICT4D can be used to really “give a voice” to marginalized groups, while increasing the participation of community members both in the creation of content and the discussion of local social issues. Moreover, he argues that ICT4D has the potential to change the traditional top-down communication model, since content is both created by members of marginalized communities, and delivered to traditionally development ‘providers’. In other words, the author sees ICT4D as  promising tool for promoting social change.


In comparing the two views of participation, I see Jönsson and Örnebring’s as more realistic. Taking into account that online newspapers invite users to create more entertaining and private life content than news/informational one, it cannot be expected that UGC has a real impact on the politic public sphere. This happens in developed countries, where technology is available and many people have access to education.


Regarding Tacchi’s view, I agree that projects like Find a Voice can certainly promote free expression and participation, and have a wider social impact on the community. However, even if marginalized groups UGC reaches policy makers and government organizations, nobody can ensure that the content is going to be seriously taken as to generate policy changes at a national level to favor those groups. Furthermore, , the generation of a wider social impact would require that more marginalized groups be provided with technology and training on how to use it to create their content, and it would depend on Western countries’ availability and willingness to provide more financial and human resources.


Anyhow, I think Tacchi’s notion of participation has the potential to bring a more meaningful change in society. As shown by the Find a Voice project, being out of the constrains of mainstream media lets people discuss community issues they really care about. By contrast, when users create content for the mainstream media, they are subject to the boundaries imposed by  that media in terms of approach and topics, which makes it difficult for them to promote real social changes.

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Media Diary Day 7

OK. This is the day I reach conclusions on how I use the media. Let’s begin by what I did today. This morning, I looked for the television channel in which they sometimes play instrumental music. After 30 minutes or so, the music was replaced by a political program or something like that, so I turned off the TV and started using my laptop. While having breakfast, I played some music on Windows Media Player, and then I searched and played two salsa songs on YouTube.


After breakfast, I dedicated about two hours to continue writing my story for the Literary Journalism class. I felt so inspired that I updated my status on Facebook, saying something about writing. The problem was that I lost some concentration on my story, and I started to check Facebook every ten minutes or so in order to find out if someone had liked my update. I also replied to a friend’s message.


Before lunch, a friend called my cell phone to ask me if I wanted to go to the grocery store. I didn’t feel well enough to go out, so I just asked her to bring me some things. I played music during lunch time, and in the afternoon I continued writing and correcting the story. At about 5, I started checking Facebook constantly and I liked two updates. I also opened the Aim chat for a while, but I didn’t talk to anybody.


In the early evening, I received a couple of calls. Two of my friends were doing some shopping and they wanted to know if I needed something from the supermarket. Then more writing and music, and my reward came on Skype at the end of the day! My boyfriend is going crazy for a t-shirt or a peaked cap with the gator image, so we were looking at the Gator’s homepage for a while. He also helped me search for flight tickets on the JetBlue website, but I decided to wait until Tuesday because one of my friends told me that it is the best day to buy cheap tickets.


I learned a lot from this media diary. First, I realized that when I’m studying, my media usage tends to be much more controlled. If I were on vacation, I would surely spend hours and hours on Facebook and Twitter, but when I’m really busy, I try to consciously distribute my time and separate tasks.


Second, my laptop is, basically, everything for me. I use it for reading, accessing the Internet and playing music. I could certainly use my cell phone to access the Internet but it would take forever.


Third, Facebook, Twitter and Skype are more than sources of entertainment. Facebook enables me to contact my relatives and acquaintances, Twitter lets me know what’s going on in my country, and Skype is the preferred way of communication with my boyfriend.


Fourth, I really don’t care much about television, and I essentially use it in order not to feel alone in the apartment.


Fifth, music is my best company while I’m eating or resting. Well, I’m a musician, so it is obvious that I prefer music over other sources of entertainment.


Sixth, as soon as weekend approaches, I tend to do more multitasking, which slows down my scholarly activities a little bit.


Finally, I felt really happy to see that it is not so difficult for blind people to use the iPhone! So I really hope to get one!

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Media Diary Day 6

In the morning, instead of turning on the TV as I usually do, I listened to music in my laptop. After having breakfast, I quickly checked my UF email account and commented on my classmates’ remixing videos. I actually spent longer than I had expected posting those comments. Then I went to Facebook and checked the link to the overly attached girlfriend’s song that my boyfriend had sent me last night.


I listened to music again while cooking and having lunch. I also felt like talking to my boyfriend, so I called his cellphone and we had a short but nice conversation. After lunch, I decided that I wanted to change the sound in Windows Media Player a little bit, and I experimented with the graphic equalizer and the automatic volume leveling for a while.


Later I sent an email to a professor, checked my email account and replied to a friend’s message on Facebook. It was time for more serious work, so I did some reading and took notes. I continued reading but I also opened AIM. I use it for chatting on Facebook because it is much more accessible for blind people than the Facebook’s chat. It has sounds that indicate, for instance, when people enter or leave the chat, or when someone has sent new messages. I had a short conversation with a friend while saving and organizing some Word documents.


Then I did three readings for one of my courses. I found the last article particularly interesting. It was about how the Internet has affected our ability to concentrate and process long pieces of information. I shared the article on Twitter and LinkedIn. It served as an excuse to look at my Twitter account for a while and have fun!


Later I ate something and listened to music. Then I wrote and posted a discussion question on the blog of one of my courses. I also chatted with two close friends on Facebook, and at the same time, I logged on Skype to meet my boyfriend and a Spanish friend of us. We were going to work on a literary workshop proposed by my boyfriend. I couldn’t do the assignment for today, but at least I could listen to what they wrote and make suggestions. Our Spanish friend left us when the workshop finished, and my boyfriend and I talked for a few more minutes before going to bed.

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Comments for this Week

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Media Diary Day 5

This media day began very early. Last night it took really long for me to fall asleep, so I listened to some music in my cell phone. After waking up this morning, I checked the time in my cell phone and turned the TV. I listened to some news on CNN. Then I used my cell phone to call the shuttle service and a friend who has always helped me purchase the ticket to go to Colombia during the breaks. Since the airline website is not readily accessible, I haven’t been able to do it by myself. I learned that my friend is travelling and he will not be able to help me today. He will come back after Thanksgiving but I want to make the purchase before, so I will have to look for somebody else. This is a rather uncomfortable situation to me because I have to provide somebody else with my personal data, but there is not another way to do it.


A few minutes later, I checked my UF and my Facebook accounts. Then I spent a little more than an hour and a half reading a book for another course and taking notes. It was almost time for leaving, so I played some music in my laptop while getting ready. I didn’t have classes, but I feel I’m sometimes more productive at the office than at home. Before leaving, I checked my Gmail account and found new messages.


Later at the office I once again checked my UF account and sent an email. I also checked my Gmail account and reply to a message.  I read some pages of the book I was reading earlier, but I couldn’t focus because the office’s environment was really cold and noisy. So I decided it was time to go home and called the shuttle’s driver from my cell phone.


When I got home, I checked my UF email account and found a reply to the email I had sent a while ago. I did some reading for about 40 minutes, and then I checked one of my course blogs in order to know the assignments for next week. Then I checked my ISIS account in order to make sure that everything was going right with my university finances. I also found a reply to an email in my UF account and I replied back. I downloaded and read the document attached by the professor. Then reading and more reading for about two hours!


I got tired, and I checked my Facebook account for about 30 minutes. I liked three updates and commented on a friend’s status update. Some weeks ago, my boyfriend had sent me a link to a YouTube channel with various videos of a blind man. I’m going crazy for an iPhone! So I was particularly interested in a video in which the guy shows how a blind person can use it. Here it is!



Time to eat and listen to some music in my laptop! Then more reading and note-taking. To finish the day, I talked to my boyfriend on Skype. He described to me some of the remixing videos posted by my classmates. Then we had fun watching old Colombian commercials and the responses to a hashtag on Twitter. Time to post this diary!

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Media Diary Day 4

I woke up and checked the time in my cell phone. Then I dialed the costumer service’s number of my mobile phone carrier and made sure that everything was right with my rate plan. I got up and turned on the TV. After having breakfast, I checked my UF email account and I didn’t find new emails.

Later I played one of the videos that we would be talking about in the afternoon’s class. I did some multitasking. I checked my Gmail account and reply to an email from my mobility instructor. I also checked my Facebook account for about ten minutes. I reviewed all my notifications, liked a friend status update and sent a message. I Then played the second video for the class. Of course, I would have needed to be with a sighted person in order to better understand the videos, but at least I got the main idea.

Once the video finished, I opened the PDF file of a book for another class. I read about ten pages and took a few notes before leaving the apartment. While I got ready, I played some music in my laptop. A few minutes later, I got on the shuttle and listened to the driver’s radio. I also sent a text message to a friend.

When I arrived at my office, I continued reading the book and taking notes. Before having lunch, I once again checked my UF email account and sent a message. During lunch time, I listened to the music they usually play at the restaurant. Later in the class, one of my classmates gave a presentation on copyright and remixing culture. She showed as various videos about these topics, including some fragments of one of the videos assigned by the professor. When the presentation finished, the professor showed us two more videos and the image of a book’s coverage.

The class was over. I checked my cell phone, found two text messages and replied to one of them. I went back to my office for a while. I checked my Facebook account and found a new message. Also, I continued reading the book for the other course and took some notes. Later I used my cell phone to call the shuttle’s driver.

I got home and turned on the TV just to hear something. I love football soccer and I was so excited because the Colombian team would come up against Brazil later. I did a quick Google search in order to find an Online channel broadcasting the game but it didn’t work. I rather decided to open my Twitter account, and I found out that a Colombian radio station was going to broadcast it. I opened the link and listened to most of the game! I tweeted and updated my Facebook status twice about it!

When the game was over, I went back to the book and took notes. Then I posted this diary, talked to my boyfriend for some minutes and went to bed!

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Media Diary Day 3

I woke up and checked the time in my cell phone. Then I turned the TV and looked for the Weather Channel in order to know the weather in Gainesville. The TV was on until I finished breakfast. Some minutes later, I read one review of a book for another class and took notes. Before leaving my apartment, I used Mozilla Firefox to check my UF email account. I found two important messages regarding my graduate project. Then I played some music in my laptop while I got ready for leaving.


I got on the shuttle and listened to the radio. I wish I had an iPad or a smartphone to access the Internet in the shuttle because I feel I waste some minutes just doing nothing. As soon as I arrived at Weimer hall, I went to my office and continued reading reviews of the book. I got bored a while later, and I checked my UF and my Facebook account. I commented on one of my friend’s status updates. Then I went to have lunch and listened to the instrumental music they always play at the restaurant. I received a text message from my mobile phone carrier while having lunch.


In the afternoon, I continued working on the reviews of the book and completed a synopsis the professor had asked. Later, in my Literary Journalism class, we were talking about the Vietnam War, and the professor showed as the trailer of the movie We Were Soldiers, as well as some war photographs. When the class finished, I used my cell phone to call the shuttle’s driver.


I got home, turned on the TV and once again checked my UF and my Facebook account. Then I opened the web page of my mobile phone carrier in order to check the status of my account. It seems that there is something wrong. One hour later, I read a literary text that one of my professors had sent me earlier. I felt inspired enough to work on my story for a while. Then I got my daily reward on Skype and, while talking to my boyfriend, I started receiving messages from an acquaintance. And this is how my day finished!

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