For the 2006 Symposium, Henry Jenkins III, DeFlorz Professor of Humanities and director of MIT Comparative Media Studies, was the keynote speaker. Jenkins has spent his career studying media and the way people incorporate it into their lives. He is one of the founders and directors of the Education Arcade, which is examining the educational potential of computer and video games. He has testified before the U.S. Senate on media violence and before the Federal Communications Commission about media literacy, and spoken to the governor’s board of the World Economic Forum about intellectual property law. Jenkins earned his doctorate in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Iowa.
From The Digital Divide to the Participation Gap: Reconsidering Media Literacy for the 21st Century
According to a 2005 study conducted by the Pew Center for Internet and American life, more than half of all American teens—and 57 percent of teens who use the Internet—are media creators and 33 percent of all teens share what they create online with others. They are part of the new participatory culture, where there are relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, where there is strong support for creating and sharing what you create with others, where there is some kind of informal mentorship so that what is known by the most inexperienced gets passed along to newbies and novices, where members feel that their contributions matter, where members feel some degree of social connection with each other at least to the degree to which they care what other people think about what they have created. Media scholars and educational researchers are just starting to examine what these young people learn through their involvement in this new participatory culture and how this will contribute to their adult lives. As we better appreciate the value of this participatory culture, we also need to be concerned about those who are unable to participate because of technological, social, or cultural obstacles. Rather than talking about the Digital Divide, which centers around access to technologies, the new focus is on the Participation Gap, which centers on access to important skills and cultural opportunities. This talk reports on some of the key findings of a MacArthur Foundation funded study which seeks to better understand the skills young people need to acquire if they are going to be full, active, creative, and ethical participants in this emerging culture.
The links below provide more information about Jenkins:
- Dr. Jenkins’ personal Web site
- Dr. Henry Jenkins III On Pop Cosmopolitanism (Streaming audio, 3:08 minutes)