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1 Anyone Can Edit: Understanding the Produser Dr Axel Bruns (Visiting Scholar, Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds) Creative Industries Faculty / Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation Queensland University of Technology –

2 The Produser No, its not a typo… Produsers are involved in: user-led content production – produsage In a variety of environments (Image:

3 Produsing the News? Traditional news process: (from Bruns, Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production, 2005)

4 Against Gatekeeping Gatekeeping is outdated: media scarcity no longer exists too many gates to keep journalists judgment can fail all the news thats fit to print is patronising Fordist production model citizens want to be active and involved

5 Towards Gatewatching New form of collaborative news produsage: observing what news passes through the gates of news and other organisations highlighting those news items which are of relevance to the community publicising rather than publishing the news adding commentary, analysis, and discussion to the news post-Fordist production model, involving users as produsers

6 Produsing the News Gatewatcher news process: (adapted from Bruns, Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production, 2005) Variations on the process are possible

7 Gatewatching and the News Rise of alternative online news: in news-related blogs and collaborative online news sites e.g. Indymedia, Slashdot, Kuro5hin, Plastic, OhmyNewsIndymediaSlashdotKuro5hinPlastic OhmyNews often in response to perceived shortcomings in the mainstream news media creating a kind of open news but not replacing the mainstream news media

8 Gatewatching Effects Suggestion of a new role for open news: bottom-up rather than top-down news coverage multiperspectival news coverage (Herbert Gans) democratic, dialogic, deliberative journalism (Dan Gillmor: move from lecture to conversation) Effects on mainstream journalism: bypassing journalists and editors offering corrective to, watchdog for mainstream news (Herbert Gans: a second tier of news organisations) breaking down producer/consumer dichotomies

9 Open News and Open Source Open source approach to news: The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the Software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing. We in the open source community have learned that this rapid evolutionary process produces better software than the traditional closed model, in which only a very few programmers can see the source and everybody else must blindly use an opaque block of bits. (

10 Produsage emerging in various domains: open source software development online publishing blogs open news – e.g. Slashdot, Indymedia, OhmyNewsSlashdot IndymediaOhmyNews knowledge management wikis – e.g. WikipediaWikipedia social bookmarking – e.g., digg del.icio.usdigg geotagging – e.g. Google Earth, FrapprGoogle EarthFrappr multi-user gaming e.g. The Sims, Everquest, Second Life, SporeThe SimsEverquest Second LifeSpore media sharing and creative practice e.g. Flickr, ccMixter, YouTube, Jumpcut, Current.tvFlickrccMixter YouTubeJumpcut reviews and viral marketing e.g. Epinions, IgoUgoEpinionsIgoUgo automatic aggregation Google, Amazon, Technorati GoogleAmazonTechnorati

11 decline of the traditional value chain: producer distributor consumer (producer advised by consumer distributor consumer) (customer-made ideas producer distributor consumer) Beyond Production

12 Beyond Products traditional value chains rely on key assumptions: products exist in discrete versions, and producers decide when these are to be released the distribution of products is controlled (and controllable) by producers and distributors, not by consumers consumers are relatively isolated – only producers have access to the whole community the core business lies in the sale of copyrighted products but in a user-led, digital environment, this is no longer true: the latest update is always immediately available – e.g. open source, Wikipedia content is available for direct access online – users become producers, and the Net replaces the distributor consumers join together in enthusiast groups, interest groups, developer groups the core business lies in providing value-added services around freely available content

13 A New Value Chain? (as producer) produser (as consumer) content

14 Common Characteristics shared across these environments: Community-Based – the community as a whole, if sufficiently large and varied, can contribute more than a closed team of producers, however qualified Fluid Roles – produsers participate as is appropriate to their personal skills, interests, and knowledges; this changes as the produsage project proceeds Unfinished Artefacts – content artefacts in produsage projects are continually under development, and therefore always unfinished; their development follows evolutionary, iterative, palimpsestic paths Common Property, Individual Merit - contributors permit (non- commercial) community use of their intellectual property, and are rewarded by the status capital

15 content development space set up by community or company to harbour produsage (e.g. Wikimedia Foundation; Google; SourceForge) commercial / non-profit harvesting of user- generated content (e.g. The Sims, Wikipedia on CD-ROM) commercial / non-profit services to support produsage (e.g. Red Hat, SourceForge) commercial activities by users themselves, harnessing the hive (e.g. support services, consultancies, content sales) initial IP contributions from individuals, the public domain, or commercial sources collaborative, iterative, evolutionary, palimpsestic user-led content development valuable, often commercial-grade content is created Produsage Environment (populated by produsers) Breaking the Chains

16 Produsage beyond production: anyone can edit – users become producers of content usage and production are increasingly, inextricably intertwined strict distinctions between producers, distributors, and consumers no longer apply a new Generation C of content produsers?Generation C this is produsage

17 Harnessing the Hive Implications of produsage: emergent community structures? creative potential – grassroots, vernacular creativity? (e-)democratic potential? sustainability of voluntary labour? commercial approaches (JC Herz: harnessing the hive) and exploitation (i.e. hijacking the hive)?commercial approaches intellectual property issues? trust, authority, responsibility, liability?

18 Produser Economics Economic potential: cheap workforce for commercial producers but also post-Fordist production/produsage models possible opposition to traditional business, and opportunity for new businesses increasing focus on creativity and innovation in international business development – e.g. move from made in China to created in China

19 Intellectual Property Ambiguous relation of produsage to IP: innovative use of new IP licences (e.g. Creative Commons)Creative Commons complex IP relationships in massively multi-produser environments (e.g. Wikipedia) conflicted response from established industries (Rip. Mix. Burn. vs. p2p persecution) potential stifling of produser innovation by heavy- handed IP legislation, with potential economic impact – Chinas growth helped by lax IP enforcement

20 Political Implications Towards post-Fordist politics? growing effect of produser news on political process towards more dialogue and deliberation, or more argument and conflict? rear-guard battles by governments and news organisations against citizen journalists – but not only in authoritarian regimes conflict between alternative and mainstream media coverage (e.g. Howard Dean campaign) digital divide opening between traditional audiences and new produser- citizens? Is it possible to harness produsage to support a move of citizens from being a passive audience for to being active produsers of democracy?

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