Kevin McKernan wrote me about the proliferation of improvisational comedy as a co-creational format (SNIP): "I find it interesting that in a culture becoming more and more interested in individual celebrities that improvisation (group-focused, spontaneous work that relies on the audience as co-creator) has a fairly large following."

This is exactly what struck me in many presentations and discussion over the weekend at MiT4. Whether its participatory journalism, participatory advertising, participatory economics, participatory theater in specific, or a participatory media culture in general, people from a wild variety of disciplines and places seem to be immersed in the same phenomenon. It all seems to boil down to what Douglas Rushkoff describes as the emergence of "new possibilities for collaborative action - networked collectivism and a society of authorship."

Mind you, these phenomenona are taking place in the context of an increasingly 'hyperindividualized' society, where (and I quote Zygmunt Bauman here): "the way individual people define individually their individual problems and try to tackle them deploying individual skills and resources is the sole remaining 'public issue' and the sole object of 'public interest'." Participation and individualization thus go hand in hand - indeed, must be seen as facilitating each other (especially in the context of DIY citizenship and voluntarist civic engagement).

Of course, these are not the only people who talk about this. And no, all of this is not necessarily 'new'... but it can be argued that what is currently emerging in the ways people interact with, give meaning to, and become the media is amplified and supercharged by the 'superabundance' of information and communication technologies and the convergence of what Leah Lievrouw calls new media artifacts, activities and arrangements.

Perhaps it is time to map this emerging culture in all its manifestations, meanings and (inter)actions? This will be my research agenda at IU Telecom. Any input is appreciated!