Meeting 4/6/2011: Gerhard Fischer – Understanding, Fostering, and Supporting Cultures of Participation


Cultures are defined in part by their media and their tools for thinking, working, learning, and collaborating. In the past, the design of most media emphasized a clear distinction between producers and consumers. The rise in social computing (based on social production and mass collaboration) has facilitated a shift from consumer cultures (specialized in producing finished artifacts to be consumed passively) to cultures of participation (in which all people are provided with the means to participate and to contribute actively in personally meaningful problems) [Jenkins, 2009]. These developments represent unique and fundamental opportunities, challenges, and transformative changes for innovative research and practice in human-centered computing as we move away from a world in which a small number of people define rules, create artifacts, make decisions for many consumers towards a world in which everyone has interests and possibilities to actively participate.

Our research is exploring theoretical foundations and system developments for understanding, fostering, and supporting cultures of participation grounded in the basic assumption that innovative technological developments are necessary for cultures of participation, but they are not sufficient.