‘Anyone Can Edit’:Understanding the ProduserThe Mojtaba Saminejad Lecture Dr Axel Bruns Creative Industries Faculty Queensland University of Technology firstname.lastname@example.org
The Produser • No, it’s not a typo… • Produsers are involved in: • user-led content production – produsage • In a variety of environments
Who Is Mojtaba Saminejad? • 25-year-old Iranian blogger: • accused of insulting the prophets, and insulting the Supreme Guide • avoided the death penalty, but sentenced to two years in prison • his offence: reporting the arrests of two other bloggers by Iranian authorities
Produsing the News? • Traditional news process: (from Bruns, Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production, 2005)
Against Gatekeeping • Gatekeeping is outdated: • media scarcity no longer exists • too many gates to keep • journalists’ judgment can fail • ‘all the news that’s fit to print’ is patronising • Fordist production model • citizens want to be active and involved
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
Produsing the News • Gatewatcher news process: (adapted from Bruns, Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production, 2005) • Variations on the process are possible
Gatewatching and the News • Rise of alternative online news: • in news-related blogs and collaborative online news sites • e.g. Indymedia, Slashdot, Kuro5hin, Plastic, 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
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
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.(Opensource.org)
Produsage • Examples of produser-led content creation and collaboration: • open news • open source • open content repositories – e.g. Wikipedia, ccMixter, Flickr • collaborative knowledge communities – e.g. Google Earth • produser communities around commercial products – e.g. The Sims, Trainz
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)? • intellectual property issues? • trust, authority, responsibility, liability?
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’
Intellectual Property • Ambiguous relation of produsage to IP: • innovative use of new IP licences (e.g. 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 – China’s growth helped by lax IP enforcement
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 (e.g. Mojtaba Saminejad) – 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?