Leading Thinkers: Interviews with Henry Jenkins, John Palfrey, and Eszter Hargittai

Zachariah James Watson

The interview with Henry Jenkins focuses primarily on what is called “Bridging Participatory Culture and Participatory Politics.” Jenkins begins the interview by discussing the backstory on how he become involved in his position as a teacher and scholar of digital media. He then goes on to discuss how he became intrigued by the phenomenon known as “convergence culture” and began to pursue it as a hot topic. Jenkins eventually gets to his elaboration on participatory culture and politics while discussing the intersections between “educational researchers and media ethnographers and how to map out the new media literacies that would be needed as more and more people gain access to the means of cultural production and circulation (Jenkins).”

The interview with John Palfrey discusses how students can be challenged and protected in the “Digital Age.” Palrey’s greatest concern seems to be on maintaining the democratic institutions (libraries, education, journalism, etc.) that are fundamental to our culture while also adapting new technology to these institutions in the way that will increase possibilities for students while also helping them avoid the pitfalls of that technology.

The interview with Eszter Hargittai is primarily focused on “today’s digital divide.” Her greatest concern appears to be on social inequality within the realms of digital media in terms of access, skills, and privilege. Hargittai goes on to discuss how people need to catch up in terms of improving and increasing their skills with digital media in order for our overall culture and society to become more “digitally savvy.”

http://henryjenkins.org/2006/10/confronting_the_challenges_of.html

http://spotlight.macfound.org/featured-stories/entry/john-palfrey-on-challenging-protecting-students-in-the-digital-age/

http://www.eszter.com/research/pubs/hargittai-digitaldivide.pdf

Discussion Questions:

1) What is your personal take on the subject of integrating participatory culture and politics?

2) How do you think the issue of digital divide can be approached in terms of finding solutions?

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