Week 7: Produsage

Here we are now, entertain us.

With weblogs and wikis, Twitter and social bookmarking, Flickr and Youtube, Wikipedia, Second Life, and even Facebook, consumers of content become producers of content. It wasn't that way a few years ago, when the web media still relied on professional producers to fill the space and entertain us: Disney, Atmosphere, Radio Head, Ansel Adams, NBC, BBC, ABC, CBS, ... With weblogs and wikis and Facebook &c, we moved into a new networked community where the consumers are also producers of texts, images, stories, music, videos. Twenty minutes on Facebook demonstrates how produsage works in general: new narratives, embedded videos with comments.

How recent is this move to produsage? The Wikipedia entry is a stub. And the topic is so brittle that the Wikipedia entry for Web 2.0 needs an expert to refactor and clean up the mess. That's new.

So, this week is a look into user-led content creation environments.

The main development of the ideas surrounding produsage are coming from Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology. Brisbane, Australia. But others are drawing out some of Bruns's ideas.

Some point out that user-led content creation environment opens the web to amateurs, in the sneering sense of non-professional, vanity-published content creators of music, video, blogs. Others point up that with produsage, we get the remix. Readers become writers. Consumers of a video respond not just with a comment on that video, but with a work-in-kind - a video mashup. Poem begats poem on the same turf. Still others point out that produsage is nothing new. Musicians, visual artists, poets, and marketing wonks have been sampling for centuries. What's new is that user-led content creation environments democratize the remix. And still others point out that produsage falls in with reality tv, where the viewer walks into the frame and becomes the viewed. Newcomers and wanna-be's now break into the mainstream with a series of YouTube videos; amateur bloggers get book- and movie deals. There's enough value in viral YouTube videos that marketeers try to manufacture and manage them.

More examples: the open source movement, open education movement, open educational resources, edupunk, the free text movement, Wikipedia, citizen journalism, creation and re-sale of objects and skins in Second Life, and this course, which is part of the open-ed movement of MOOCs and Personal Learning Environments. Students are traditionally cast as consumers of education rather than producers of their own - and how fun is that?

And by extension, as consumers become producers, they take to the streets and overthrow the old producers who have cast them in a role they no longer have to live with. Go, Egypt.

Bruns's interest in produsage is mainly sociological. He looks at the situations in which user-led content creation environments are created and take hold, the circumstances in which they thrive, how they develop and die, and how social relations change in the new environments. That's a starting point.

Required readings

http://produsage.org/
Read at least the three pages under Getting Started

Then explore the rest of the site to get a handle on how Axel Bruns is working with the idea.

Topics and entry points

Go searching for some materials that might help you deepen your understanding of produsage and user-led content creation environments . Some search terms and ideas

Activities - Choose

1) Be a sociologist for the week. Use you blog or wiki as a field notebook. Visit some user-led content creation environments to find examples of produsage going on and observe and record what happens, how people are interacting. Cruise some produsage sites for a couple of days: YouTube, Flickr, Delicious, Picassa, Facebook, Quora, Ning, or a site of your choice, your interest, looking for how produsage plays out. Watch for instances of the characteristics of produsage Bruns specifies, record them, comment on them:

Post your observations to your blog or wiki as you make them.

2) Find examples of exemplary or lousy produsage and annotate and comment on them, using your bookmarking network and your weblog.




Produsage, Generation C, and Their Effects on the Democratic Process, Bruns.

ProdusageForDummies

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