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The emergence of the participatory user

Research project Within the project, Torill Mortensen will study how users of digital media is involved, and an essential part of, creating content and experiences.

The interest of the project is primarily focused on analysing research concerning bloggers and computer gamers. This is done from Mortensen’s own experience as theorist, gamer and blogger. She also studies how participatory media has changed the concept of a user – from a passive consumer to an active actor – and also how theory of media has transformed simultaneously.

Project overview

Project period:

2007-12-16 2008-08-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University


External funding

The Kempe Foundation

Project description

Mortensen’s research has for several years been concerned with new media phenomena which accentuate the user as an active participant and not a passive voyeur; participatory media. With the development of new media technologies the original models of communication are shown to be too restricted. While this has been obvious to communication researchers for years, the computer-based media have made it an imperative to the developers to think of media products as offerings to the community, not a message from a distant and elevated authority. Her work is grounded in many different experiences; in my many years of teaching public information, public relations and media theory, my research on computer games and my involvement with research communities as well as the society in general through weblogs. These apparently very different fields of teaching, expression and research all come together in a vision of a new user paradigm: The emergence of the participatory user.

In order to explore this central issue Mortensen wants to look at the body of games and blog research, and discuss this up against her own experience as a gamer and blogger, the research she has done on both, and on a background of media theory.

During her stay at Umeå University she will outline a draft for a book on this topic: how participatory media change the idea of the “user” in media theory. This will underline how participatory media theory is developing into a very important field in understanding all mediated cultural expressions, as this is the field which has a set of concepts which can deal with the varied technologies of communication gadgets.

External funding

Latest update: 2023-04-03