Producing Participatory Media

Summer 2008
Tuesdays 3:15 PM - 6:10 PM
Room 447

Instructor: Shawn Van Every
Office Hours: Wednesdays 2-4 PM or by appointment
Office Hours Sign-up

Class Wiki
Class Listserv - Subscribe
Class Blog


Traditional broadcast media (television and radio) are in a time of transition. Broadcast is being pushed in new directions by the increasing ease of producing compelling material, and by the interactive and social nature of the internet. Blogs and other internet based social networks have given rise to an audience that is eager to engage with and participate in the creation of media. This appetite is quickly moving into the realm of television and radio with new avenues for distribution and new means for audience interaction offering serious challenges to traditional broadcast.

The goal of this course is to introduce students to new technologies and methods for creating participatory media and making it available. Students will develop new ideas for helping this transition along both on the internet and in the traditional broadcast space. This course will have weekly assignments, student presentations, guest speakers and will culminate with group projects.


Grades will be determined according to the following breakdown:
-Regular Assignments 25%
-Mid-Term Paper 15%
-Participation and Attendance 20%
-Presentation 15%
-Final Project 25%


It is expected that everyone in the class will create and maintain a blog for their assignments. Also, we have a class blog that I hope you will all contribute thoughts and interesting items to. This is a very fast moving space we will all need each others help to keep abreast of what is going on. Visit this page to setup a username and password on this for yourself. Once you have done that, drop me a note and I will give you posting privileges and link to each of your blogs in the "blog roll" so we have a quick reference.

Also, enter your name, preferred email address and the URL to your blog (you can always edit this later) on the class wiki


This class is very participatory in nature and discussions will certainly take place outside of the classroom. Along with the blog, one of the primary vehicles for these discussions (as well as administrative issues) will be the listserv.

Signup for the Class Listserv - Subscribe

Laptops and WiFi

I love having WiFi available and I think it is a valuable tool for use in the classroom. Unfortunately, it can very easily be a distraction as well. ITP has instituted as default a no laptop use in the classroom rule. We are going to break that rule and instead stick to the following rule: No laptop use when other students are presenting and during discussions. At other times, following along with class notes and related activities is acceptable.

Weekly Assignments

We will have weekly assignments that are relevant to the previous weeks material. Due to the fact that we are exploring this material from both a production and audience standpoint. This means that for each assignment you need to both produce something and comment on other people's pieces (via their blog). Assignments are required and turning in an assignment late will adversely affect your grade.


Attendance is mandatory. Please inform me via email if you are going to miss a class. Habitually showing up late for class or an excessive number of absences will adversely affect your grade.

Class Participation

As if I haven't said this enough. This class will be participatory, you are expected to participate in discussions and give feedback to other students both in class and via their project blogs. This (along with attendance) is 20% of your overall grade.


There will be a short paper, no more than 5 pages, due on July 24. Although the specific topic is left up to you, some topic suggestions are as follows:
-A response to one of the assigned readings or suggested books
-A tool or project idea (relating to the class material)
-An idea for adding audience participation to an existing television or radio program


Starting on the 3rd class, we will have weekly student presentations. I will divide the class up into pairs and each week one will give a 15 minute presentation about one of the following:
-A new participatory media technology (software, hardware or website).
-Content that is particularly compelling in the context of the class

If you are really stuck for ideas, we can do some brainstorming. Of course, the best ideas are those that relate to your background or interests. I will randomly select the groups and schedule the presentations by the second class.

Final Projects

This class will culminate with group projects. It is expected that these will be both technology and content driven. Projects such as the development of a tool or a vehicle for interaction will be considered but should be used in combination with content elements.


The following books are suggested reading for the class (I will assign weekly readings via handouts and online articles rather than directly from these texts). They make great material for further study, papers and presentations:

  • We the Media, Dan Gillmor 2004 (Website/Blog) - (We the Media can be entirely downloaded for free:
  • Darknet, J.D. Lasica 2005 (Website/Blog) - (A good portion of Darknet is available online: Mini-book chapters)
  • Television Disrupted, Shelly Palmer 2006 (Website/Blog)
  • Convergence Culture, Henry Jenkins, 2006 (Website/Blog)
  • The Long Tail, Chris Anderson, 2006 (Website/Blog)
  • The Future of Web Video, Scott Kirsner, 2006 (Website/Blog)

  • There is also a peer created list on the wiki. Feel free to add to it.

    Websites, Mailing lists and so on..

    There are too many to list, here are a couple that will get you started:
    Radio and The Internet Newsletter (RAIN)
    ITV Today
    There is also a peer created list on the wiki. Feel free to add to it!

    Although not explicitly required reading, various web resources are essential for further understanding and will help immensely in class discussions. They also help in finding great material for papers and presentations.

    The class blog on the other hand is be required reading, keep an eye on it.

    Class Schedule

    The class will be structured as follows: The first half, exploring emerging media related technologies available on the internet. The second half, thinking about and developing new ideas for how these tools might be used.

    Class 1 - July 1

    Topics: Handout


    Class 2 - July 3

    Topics: The current state of affairs. Emerging Practices of Internet based Media Handout

    Class 3 - July 8

    Topics: The current state of affairs. Emerging Practices of Internet based Media Handout

    Class 4 - July 10

    Topics: Catch-up.. Finish Class 3

    Class 5 - July 15

    Topics: Emulating broadcast on the net. The Nut and Bolts of Streaming
    Outside Guest: Joost


    Class 6 - July 17

    Topics: Continuation of class 5.
    Outside Guest: Ze Frank


    Class 7 - July 22

    Topics: PHP and APIs Handout


    Class 8 - July 24

    Paper's Due
    Outside Guest: Jonny Goldstein
    Topics: Continuation of Class 7 Assignments:

    Class 9 - July 29

    Topics: Telephone as Production Tool and P2P Handout


    Class 10 - July 31

    Topics: Television in Transition, Interactive Television and Internet based interaction Handout


    Class 11 - August 5


    Class 12 - August 7

    Final Project Presentations (Expect guests)