Participatory Culture, Web 2.0, and Communities of Practice: A Design-Based Research Investigation

LSAI thought I would post one of the papers I have been working on:

Cocciolo, A. (2008). Participatory Culture, Web 2.0, and Communities of Practice: A Design-Based Research Investigation.

The purpose of this thesis is to explore the relationship amongst participatory culture (Jenkins, 2006), Web 2.0 technologies, and communities of practice. Specifically, this study will address the following questions: what are the effects of introducing a Web 2.0 technology into a pre-existing learning environment, and how can such technologies aid (or inhibit) the emergence of a participatory culture? To address these questions, a design-based research project was undertaken where a Web 2.0 technology was iteratively designed and developed, rolled-out to a graduate school community of 5,000 members, and its impact studied over a one-year period. The study uses a variety of methods to triangulate the impact of this Web 2.0 technology. In particular, the study employs a longitudinal social network analysis, a latent semantic analysis, a cross-comparison analysis, and an ethnographic analysis. Results indicate the Web 2.0 environment provides a forum for community members to play-out the tension between reaffirming pre-existing socio-cultural norms and a desire to break free from such structures. Specifically, the analysis reveals that the Web 2.0 technology allows for new forms of participation that were not possible with earlier ICTs as well as opportunities for radical interaction networks to form. However, the study also indicates how the initial radicalism the Web 2.0 technology allowed for is tempered over-time to better conform to pre-existing socio-cultural norms. In sum, participatory culture is made possible by the innovations in ICTs; however, sustaining the culture must be the undertaking of the community. Implications are made for organizations that may be interested in deploying Web 2.0 technologies to accomplish a variety of goals.

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