Posted by: ath1 | September 18, 2007

Spoiling and Participatory Culture

Overall, Jenkins’s perspective on collective intelligence is a thoughtful concept—as many people put their minds together, the number of options for the answer increases, and so as the chance to get the right one. However, much of what Jenkins proposes only takes place through the Internet. Consequently, I wonder whether collective intelligence can manifest itself in our physical world as much as it does in the cyberspace.

On the Internet, although the participants have diverse backgrounds and may not share similar approach to the spoiling game, they can come and work together because the medium they use to share their perspectives is the Internet, a place where space, time, as well as cultural identity do not exist. And without cultural background and social identity, the participants of the collective intelligent group can disregard their way of interacting to other spoilers. On the other hand, if collective intelligence is in practice in the actual world, it would undoubtedly face the cultural and social factors that form distinctive lines between individuals. Consequently, the outcome of collective intelligence would not be as fine, or at least different from, as on the Internet.

Jenkins also points out that the act of spoiling Survivor is a “giant cat and mouse game that is played between the producers and the audience” (Jenkins 25). In my point of view, this model can be both good and bad.

Optimistically, this is a healthy practice because it benefits the audiences as the media consumers as a whole: as the show producers compete against the spoilers in the spoiling game, they have to figure out ways to escape the predictable elements, hence it increases the show’s quality with surprising and clever twists. In addition, the spoiling community offers an enormous amount of creative information which the show’s creators can examine and study; thus, it can make the show more closely reflect to what the media consumers demand.

On the other side, what Jenkins says and presumes is true: spoiling can become very dangerous because the spoilers often have the advantage to win over the producers. In Jenkins’s terms, it would logically be this way since the spoiler community is made of thousands of people across the globe while the show’s production team only is only a handful of people; consequently, the collective intelligence of the spoiler can achieve more results than the show’s production team. Of course, this is only theoretically but it appears to be true nonetheless: as the show goes on, many people become disinterested in the spoiling game because they state the storyline become too predictable, therefore most of the fun is taken away.

In any case, as a whole, Jenkins does a very good job of drawing attention to the idea of participatory culture, where media consumers challenge their ways of engaging with the media content to the media creators.



  1. I do agree with you. When reading your blog, I couldn’t help but remember what we read in Jenkins’ article “From YouTube to YouNiversity” about web 2.0 and web 3.0. I believe that in the case of the spoilers and how they feed off of Survivor and the time and effort they put into finding and acquiring data, it is getting closer to web 3.0….however, obviously not all components are web-based.

    What spoilers do with Survivor is create their own world, with rules, a hierarchy and in a sense, a location. Their location isn’t physical, but it exists on-line. They, to some extent, control so much that happens, that I would argue they are certainly getting closer to that idea of web 3.0.

    I’d like to know if others consider the spoiler community to be a more advanced form of internet participation, surpassing web 2.0.

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