Posted by: whitneygomes | October 20, 2016

“If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.”

Henry Jenkins, media scholar and renowned co-author of Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture, first coined the term participatory culture in 1992. Today, we live in a convergence culture that is participatory: Jenkins claims that we are no longer passive consumers of media, but are now strong contributors to the media we consume.

Jenkins, Ford, and Green use the term Spreadability to describe increasingly omnipresent forms of media circulation. Spreadability measures and describes the potential, in technical and cultural/social terms, for audiences to share content for their own purposes. It refers to the technical resources that make it easier to circulate certain types of content over others.


In contrast, they explain the term Stickiness as describing media content that stimulate deep audience engagement––potentially motivating them to share (or post, tweet, or insta) what they learned with others. These terms provide a framework for us journalists (and communicators abroad) to consider––keeping in mind the prevalence of Web 2.0 power players like YouTube.

If spreadability describes “the how” and stickiness describes “the what”, it seems we cannot measure one without the other. That said, how does one measure the potential for audiences to share content? Can we reach a quantifiable outcome? Doubtful, but it is important to understand that some media are sticky––”post me,” “share me,” “retweet me”––while its ability to reach other audiences for purposes of sharing (self-satisfying, economically inclined or otherwise) is a vital part of the Web 2.0 discourse.


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