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Beyond Expectations: Setting the Bar for Participatory Culture, by Jennifer Harris

An audience of roughly 300 public-minded media makers gathered on Harvard University’s Law campus to answer the question of how broadcasters can move beyond broadcast. The objective not being to make traditional radio and television broadcast obsolete, but to build beyond the levels of communication and participation that had been ‘allowed for’ in broadcast formats but that are essential to web-based ones.

The Beyond Broadcast conference asked broadcasters to break from the traditional communications model of broadcast television and radio and to welcome more interactive opportunities for public engagement. By substituting feedback loops for a style more reflective of a true dialogue, a new relationship between content creator and the public can begin to be defined.

In broadcast media, public interest and participatory culture had been built into the structure as an afterthought. However as the internet evolves, public-minded broadcasters have the opportunity to lay public interest and involvement as the foundation of a new digital frontier. Web-based models illustrate that the end user does not have to live at the end of the mass media chain – linked to a role of only receiving information and responding only to that information in which they have received. Participatory culture encourages the public to play an integral role at all points of message creation.

Though the conference did not just contemplate a participatory culture; it allowed for all conference participants to experience it. The Beyond Broadcast conference employed a range of interactive and entertaining presentation tools. Conference participants were engaged by various ideas that were exhibited in a full display of participatory communications