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Produsage: Basics

Produtzung in Frankfurt

I've posted some more detailed information about this over at, but visitors here might be interested to know that I'll be speaking at the (German-language) conference Prosumer Revisited at the end of March. No prize for guessing that my contribution to the event will be to offer the concept of produsage as an alternative to Toffler's prosumer, which in my view acknowledges consumers' knowledge about the products they're using but doesn't offer them sufficient agency as users and content creators. (And of course Toffler introduced his concept in the early 1970s, so he couldn't possibly have foreseen what forms of user participation well beyond prosumption today's technological frameworks would make possible.)

'Anyone Can Edit': Vom Nutzer zum Produtzer (Hans-Bredow-Institut, Universität Hamburg, 2008)

Axel Bruns. "'Anyone Can Edit': Vom Nutzer zum Produtzer." Guest lecture at the Hans-Bredow-Institut, Universität Hamburg, 20 Oct. 2008.

Um die kreative und kollaborative Beteiligung zu beschreiben, die heutzutage nutzergesteuerte Projekte wie etwa die Wikipedia auszeichnet, ist ein Begriff wie 'Produktion' nur noch bedingt nützlich - selbst in Konstruktionen wie 'nutzergesteuerte Produktion' oder 'P2P-Produktion'. In den Nutzergemeinschaften, die an solchen Formen der Inhaltserschaffung teilnehmen, haben sich Rollen als Konsumenten und Benutzer längst unwiederbringlich mit solchen als Produzent vermischt - Nutzer sind immer auch unausweichlich Produzenten der gemeinsamen Informationssammlung, ganz egal, ob sie sich dessens auch bewußt sind: sie haben eine neue, hybride Rolle angenommen, die sich vielleicht am besten als 'Produtzer' umschreiben lassen kann. Projekte, die auf solche Produtzung (Englisch: produsage) aufbauen, finden sich in Bereichen von Open-Source-Software über Bürgerjournalismus bis hin zur Wikipedia, und darüberhinaus auch zunehmend in Computerspielen, Filesharing, und selbst im Design materieller Güter. Obwohl unterschiedlich in ihrer Ausrichtung, bauen sie doch auf eine kleine Zahl universeller Grundprinzipien auf.

Henry Jenkins Interviews Axel Bruns

I'm very honoured by the strong support that Henry Jenkins, Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program, has given the produsage book. Not only did he provide an enthusiastic endorsement for Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage, but he's also offered to interview me on his own blog. That interview has now been published, and your can read it in two parts here and here. I'm also reposting it below.

Nielsen Online: Produsage Trends in Australia and New Zealand

Getting into the ANZAC Day spirit here at there's an interesting news release over at Nielsen Online, detailing results of their research into user-led content generation in Australia and New Zealand. As it turns out, Internet users in both countries are already pretty active in their online participation - but a closer look at the stats released by Nielsen's market researchers also reveals that their activities remain largely limited to sharing profiles, photos and links at present, and to accessing user-led content rather than necessarily generating it.

Reading Sample 4 - Produsage and Democracy

Below is the final of four reading samples from Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. These samples were first published as part of a series on the P2P Foundation Website, where the book was honoured as Book of the Week.

In this series:

4 - Produsage and Democracy

A crucial step in the advance towards a more participatory, active, monitorial form of citizenship is the embedding of such practices into everyday life, and blogging and other forms of participation in continuing, produsage-based, deliberative models for discussing and debating the news provide a useful model. As Jenkins points out, this is a question of moving beyond participation in political processes only in the lead-up to elections and in the context of major political issues; "the next step is to think of democratic citizenship as a lifestyle." [1] This does not necessarily provide an argument against the necessarily limited issue-based action coalitions we have discussed already, however; instead, it encourages citizens to participate in a variety of such coalitions, to join a number of the communities of political produsers whose interests and concerns match their own. Much as elsewhere in produsage, to do so will give rise to loose and fluid heterarchies of participation, and ad hoc alliances organizing specific actions and coordinating the development and evaluation of new policy initiatives.

Reading Sample 3 - Produsage and Technology

Below is the third of four reading samples from Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. These samples were first published as part of a series on the P2P Foundation Website, where the book was honoured as Book of the Week.

In this series:

3 - Produsage and Technology

The emergence of produsage itself can be seen simply as a symptom of a wider informationalization of all aspects of our everyday lives, our economy, our society. With the help of technological advances, information is being embedded ever more deeply into all aspects of life, but this is not a process driven by technology as such; indeed, perhaps it would be more correct to say that our networked information and communication technologies have helped merely to make more notable, more visible, more explicitly extractable and usable, the information and knowledge which was already always, inherently, necessarily embedded in all aspects of human existence, action, and interaction. Technology, in this view, is merely a support mechanism serving to connect and amplify processes of information use and knowledge generation which have always been a fundamental aspect of human life; it helps address what Lévy describes as a central problem for collective intelligence,

Reading Sample 2 - Folks and Experts

Below is the second of four reading samples from Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. These samples were first published as part of a series on the P2P Foundation Website, where the book was honoured as Book of the Week.

In this series:

2 - Folks and Experts

Wikipedia, and the environments of produsage more generally, can serve as vehicles for moves beyond established and increasingly ossified structures of knowledge and expertise; they pay respect not to abstract certificates of expert accreditation, but to the active display and embodiment of expertise through constructive participation in their communities of content and knowledge creation. At their best, therefore, they are by no means anti-elitist, but instead openly invite elites and experts to share their knowledge with the wider community so that the community overall is able to gain knowledge; they are opposed, however, to any tendency to take established expertise for granted and to use one's status as an accredited expert to refrain from answering legitimate questions and challenges, wherever they may originate. Thus, for example, in journalistic produsage the lack of special prestige accorded to experts "does not mean, however, that deliberative journalism should reduce all discussion to common sense. Rather, the perspectives of 'ordinary people' should be allowed to transform the analytical distinctions of established experts as well as define new questions." [1]

Reading Sample 1 - Produsage: An Introduction

Below is the first of four reading samples from Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. These samples were first published as part of a series on the P2P Foundation Website, where the book was honoured as Book of the Week.

In this series:

1 - Produsage: An Introduction

Users are able to involve themselves flexibly and fluidly in the tasks confronting the collaborative, 'hive' community; they collaborate not by performing only the monotonous, repetitive, predetermined tasks of the production line, or by contributing fully formed new ideas to the information commons, but instead engage in an ongoing, perpetually unfinished, iterative, and evolutionary process of gradual development of the informational resources shared by the community. Such "communality is powerful: It effectively eliminates the need to predict in advance who may benefit from one's knowledge; it provides information and expertise gained by others, thus eliminating the need to experience phenomena firsthand; and it highlights the advantages of aggregated information resources, whose value can greatly exceed the sum of the parts." [1]

From Production to Produsage: Book of the Week

Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage has been chosen as book of the week on the P2P Foundation Website, and over the next few days a number of selected excerpts will be published on Michel Bauwens's P2P Foundation blog. The first two of these have now gone up - check them out, and feel free to leave a comment on the blog or discuss them over at the P2P Foundation Ning site.

The first excerpt provides a general outline of and motivation for the produsage concept - it outlines the decline of the conventional production chain as we were familiar with it during the industrial age, and the corresponding rise of produsage as a hybrid model of content creation which involves users as producers: in other words, produsers. Necessarily, this also fundamentally reshapes our understanding of the outcomes of such processes: produsage generates only temporary artefacts which themselves remain up for further development, not fixed and finished products - even though many such artefacts (from open source software to the Wikipedia, and beyond) can be used to substitute for the products of industrial processes.

Teaching the Produsers: Preparing Students for User-Led Content Production

Axel Bruns. "Teaching the Produsers: Preparing Students for User-Led Content Production." Featured Speech presented at ATOM Conference, Brisbane, 8 October 2006.

My talk at ATOM2006 outlined the produsage concept, with a view also to how educators can aim to enable students to engage in produsage through the development of their critical, collaborative and creative ICT and media literacies.


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