Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Liza Potts

Committee Director

Joyce Neff

Committee Member

Kathie Gossett

Committee Member

Dana Heller

Committee Member

Kevin DePew

Committee Member

Julia Romberger


In this dissertation, I combine methods from Technical Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, and User Experience Design to trace the social and creative practices of social web participants. Using actor network theory, I explore the concept of participation as social and creative practice that demands coordinative knowledge work enacted within a cultural space. Leveraging the insight gained from this research, I develop the user experience of participation as a research and design methodology that privileges the movement of people and information in order to structure and re-structure social connections.

I explore this methodology through three intersections between people and technology. The first is between the practices of digital participants within online cultures and the policies aimed at regulating their social and creative work. Second, participation is defined in the ways that local exigency of participants intersects with the implementation of regulations and policies through technological design. Finally, a third intersection appears when participants work to restructure their relationships to policies and technologies through coordinative knowledge work that uncovers and links information within digital ecosystems.