ABSTRACT

Interactivity seems a familiar condition in today's digital media as we click, speak, and swipe our way through games, phone applications and e-books. Interactivity is a charged term for those of us who have witnessed the emergence of active audiences from a media studies world dominated by textually extrapolated readings and grand theory, and a mass communications world dominated by effects theories. Reception theory and the cascade of research it inspired showed that media audiences actively construct meanings and use their encounters in quite different ways. This chapter draws following distinction: active readers encounter texts, interpret them, and make meanings; interactive readers also co-create texts, entering textual environments and assembling disparate textual elements into new wholes. Academics have spent a lot of time with texts and active audience interpretations, but the text-enacting or text-hacking activities of the interactive user, the creative collaborations that result in new and variant texts, have remained on the sidelines.