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Spreadable Media

Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture

Henry Jenkins

Publication Year: 2013

Spreadable Media maps fundamental changes taking place in our contemporary media environment, a space where corporations no longer tightly control media distribution and many of us are directly involved in the circulation of content. It contrasts “stickiness”—aggregating attention in centralized places—with “spreadability”—dispersing content widely through both formal and informal networks,some approved, many unauthorized. Stickiness has been the measure of success in the broadcast era (and has been carried over to the online world), but “spreadability” describes the ways content travels through social media.
Following up on the hugely influential Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, this book challenges some of the prevailing metaphors and frameworks used to describe contemporary media, from biological metaphors like “memes” and “viral” to the concept of “Web 2.0” and the popular notion of “influencers.” Spreadable Media examines the nature of audience engagement,the environment of participation, the way appraisal creates value,and the transnational flows at the heart of these phenomena. It delineates the elements that make content more spreadable and highlights emerging media business models built for a world of participatory circulation. The book also explores the internal tensions companies face as they adapt to the new communication reality and argues for the need to shift from “hearing” to “listening” in corporate culture.
Drawing on examples from film, music, games, comics, television,transmedia storytelling, advertising, and public relations industries,among others—from both the U.S. and around the world—the authors illustrate the contours of our current media environment.They highlight the vexing questions content creators must tackle and the responsibilities we all face as citizens in a world where many of us regularly circulate media content. Written for any and all of us who actively create and share media content, Spreadable Media provides a clear understanding of how people are spreading ideas and the implications these activities have for business, politics, and everyday life.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. 1-5


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pp. v-7

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pp. vii-viii

We want to thank all the graduate student researchers and staff who took part in the MIT Convergence Culture Consortium. In particular, we want to acknowledge the significant impact Xiaochang Li’s work had on our thinking presented in chapter 2 and chapter 3 of this...

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How to Read This Book

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pp. ix-xv

We envision three readerships for this book: media scholars, communication professionals, and people actively creating and sharing media content who are interested in how the media industries — and our culture(s) — are changing as a result. Spreadable Media has been...

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Introduction: Why Media Spreads

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pp. 1-46

This book is about the multiple ways that content circulates today, from top down to bottom up, from grassroots to commercial. As we explore circulation, we see the way value and meaning are created in the multiple economies that constitute the emerging media landscape....

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1 Where Web 2.0 Went Wrong

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pp. 47-84

In December 2009, Capitol Records filed a suit against online videosharing site Vimeo, claiming the site “induces and encourages its users” to engage in copyright infringement (Lawler 2009). Capitol argued that Vimeo failed to take sufficient action to monitor infringing material...

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2 Reappraising the Residual

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pp. 85-112

Chapter 1 suggested that each party involved in exchanging material may have a different conception of its value and/or worth. We use the term “appraisal” to describe the process by which people determine which forms of value and worth get ascribed to an object...

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3 The Value of Media Engagement

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pp. 113-152

Chapter 1 suggested that each party involved in exchanging material may have a different conception of its value and/or worth. We use the term “appraisal” to describe the process by which people determine which forms of value and worth get ascribed to an object...

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4 What Constitutes Meaningful Participation?

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pp. 153-194

While chapter 3 explored how the concept of “engagement” is helping redefine audience measurement, chapter 4 is focused on how the shifting relations between media producers and their audiences are transforming the concept of meaningful participation. Consider two...

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5 Designing for Spreadability

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pp. 195-228

The May 2010 issue of Fast Company profiled the creative agency Mekanism (Borden 2010), the group responsible for such successful online promotions as the double-entendre-laden Axe body wash campaign “Clean Your Balls.” Claiming the company can guarantee...

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6 Courting Supporters for Independent Media

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pp. 229-258

Animator Nina Paley and science fiction writer Cory Doctorow are two of a growing number of independent artists rethinking and reinventing the process through which their texts enter circulation. Both offer their art to fans as “gifts,” hoping the community will support...

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7 Thinking Transnationally

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pp. 259-290

A central argument running through this book is that spreadability has expanded people’s capacities to both appraise and circulate media texts and thus to shape their media environment. None of this supposes an end to the role of commercial mass media as perhaps the...

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pp. 291-305

Such attitudes may emerge “naturally” from our mammalian predispositions, but Doctorow notes that they are not the only ways we can understand our creative output. We might reimagine our current intellectual property regimes as they might operate in a world dominated...


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pp. 307-312


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pp. 313-331


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pp. 333-350

About the Authors

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pp. 351-352

E-ISBN-13: 9780814743515
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814743515
Print-ISBN-10: 0814743501

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mass media and culture.
  • Mass media and technology.
  • Mass media -- Social aspects.
  • Social media.
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