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Produsage Research - Further Plans, and Job Opportunities

I thought I'd post a quick summary here on one further direction that my research into produsage will take over the coming years. One issue that has interested me for some time (and that I touch on throughout the book) is the problem of finding ways for 'professionals' and 'amateurs' - as inadequate these terms are - to collaborate fruitfully, rather than stand in inherent opposition to one another.

The oppositional stance is visible for example in the still persistent dismissal of citizen journalists by professional journalists in the industry; in the overly defensive response of Britannica and its commercial competitors to the rise of Wikipedia; or in the lack of engagement with or outright banning of user-generated content by many educational institutions. Against this, we're seeing the emergence of what (following Leadbeater and Miller) we might describe as Pro-Am operations - OhmyNews is a good example here, but so is the harnessing of user-generated content by Amazon or Google.

Part of this problem (though by no means the only interesting aspect) is the development of workable and sustainable models for the commercial embrace of produsage processes - in a way that is mutually beneficial, or in other words, neither attempts simply to exploit the voluntary labour contributed by produsage participants nor ignores the need of commercial operators to make a profit. There's a great deal more work to be done to

  • understand what factors make successful produsage projects successful (and the framework I've outlined in the book is a first step towards that understanding);
  • examine the motivations of produsage participants, understand their needs and wants, and identify possible ways in which business may profitably work with them;
  • and develop sustainable strategies for commercial partners to engage with produsage communities on a mutually respectful, mutually beneficial basis.

So, that's precisely what I'm planning to do as a major part of my work with the new Smart Services CRC which has now been launched officially. I'm not alone in this - the CRC encompasses some excellent researchers in this field, and a number of very enthusiastic industry partners representing major Australian media companies. And we're now also looking both for PhD students to work with us through these and other problems, and for Research Assistants to share some of the load. If you're interested, please get in touch!

As the research gets going, I'll post updates on our findings when I can. Some of this work will necessarily be commercial-in-confidence, of course, but as a part-publicly funded research centre, there'll also be plenty of material intended for public release - including the reports on produsage I'm developing during the first year of the CRC.

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