In this article I assess theories of internet-enabled public participation as they have been devised to explain the audience participatory projects of Current TV, a global cable and satellite television and internet video network once partially programmed by non-fiction videos submitted by viewers. I explore how each author’s theory of participation--convergence (Jenkins 2006), crowdsourcing (Howe 2008), and neoliberal participation (Hands 2011)--variously fails and succeeds to historically and culturally situate Current TV within its socio-cultural context as a mixed mission and market digital social entrepreneur.
To explore this issue I analyze five historical phases of Current TV: INdTV (2000-2004), Digital Correspondents (DC) (2004-2005), Viewer-Created Content (VC2) (2005-2008), Current.com (2008-2009), Hollywood (2009-) Throughout this history, one sees Current TV progress as a formal social enterprise engineering an organized public and struggle with a mission to democratize media production within an economy based on neoliberal principles. I conclude by introducing digital social entrepreneurship to describe the historically variable mix of mission and market values inherent in social activity.
This is a pre-print of an article published in Communication, Culture, and Critique, 6 (3), 2013. (c) Wiley.