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Produsage: Articles

New Produsage Articles

Hello produsers – it’s been too long. I’m afraid I’ve been sidetracked with other research projects and haven’t had much time to update this blog – but at least I wanted to post a quick update to point to a couple new publications.

My new article on produsage and business, published in Information, Communication, and Society, extends my thoughts on how community and commerce may be able to co-exist alongside one another:

Axel Bruns. “Reconciling Community and Commerce? Collaboration between Produsage Communities and Commercial Operators.Information, Communication & Society 15 May 2012. DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2012.680482.

Special Issue on Produsage

imageThe past few months have been incredibly busy with other projects (see here, for example), so I haven’t had a time to post the latest news from produsage world yet. Most importantly, the special issue of New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia that Jan Schmidt and I have co-edited is finally out now!

Exploring the Pro-Am Interface between Production and Produsage (Internet Turning 40, 2010)

Axel Bruns. "Exploring the Pro-Am Interface between Production and Produsage." Paper presented at The Internet Turning 40 conference, Hong Kong, 19 June 2010.

The emergence of Web 2.0 and social media sites and projects has highlighted the development of new forms of social organisation that facilitate online collaboration between peers. Major projects such as Wikipedia embody the fundamental principles of an approach to distributed and communal content creation that is best described as produsage (Bruns 2008) or commons-based peer production (Benkler 2006), and these principles - which trace their origins back at least as far as the emergence of open source software development, but have antecedents in the offline world, too - are beginning to promote innovation and change in an ever growing range of intellectual practices across the content industries.

g4c2c: Enabling Citizen Engagement at Arms' Length from Government (EDEM 2010)

Axel Bruns and Adam Swift. "g4c2c: Enabling Citizen Engagement at Arms' Length from Government." Paper presented at EDEM 2010, Krems, Austria, 6 May 2010.

The recognition that Web 2.0 applications and social media sites will strengthen and improve interaction between governments and citizens has resulted in a global push into new e-democracy or Government 2.0 spaces. These typically follow government-to-citizen (g2c) or citizen-to-citizen (c2c) models, but both these approaches are problematic: g2c is often concerned more with service delivery to citizens as clients, or exists to make a show of 'listening to the public' rather than to genuinely source citizen ideas for government policy, while c2c often takes place without direct government participation and therefore cannot ensure that the outcomes of citizen deliberations are accepted into the government policy-making process. Building on recent examples of Australian Government 2.0 initiatives, we suggest a new approach based on government support for citizen-to-citizen engagement, or g4c2c, as a workable compromise, and suggest that public service broadcasters should play a key role in facilitating this model of citizen engagement.

Strategies for Engaging with Social Media: Two Reports for the Smart Services CRC

One of my research gigs for 2009 was to investigate the potential of social media for the Smart Services CRC, a cooperative research centre comprised of several Australian universities and industry partners from the media, finance, government, and IT fields. Ostensibly, the goal here was to translate what we know about the principles and processes of produsage into actionable ideas for organisations and businesses which aim to engage with social media communities, and I'm pleased to announce that the two reports produced from this research are now available under Creative Commons licences. (I mentioned the release of Report 1 in a previous posting in June.)

All of this was in recognition of the fact - and to say this is not a dig specifically at the CRC's industry partners, but speaks to an almost industry-wide malaise - that social media and the communities which use them remain very poorly understood by the organisations which attempt to use them, which has led to a great many failures in working with social media. (For mine, the jury is still out on whether even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg actually gets social media.)

Indeed, it seems like these failures are now used by some corporate planners to argue against engaging with user communities altogether - 'social media' has become a dirty word for them, as ReadWriteWeb reports just today. It's unlikely that such a head-in-the-sand strategy is going to be successful in the long (or even the short) term, of course - much as the music industry has found with filesharers, social media communities aren't something you can contain by ignoring them, suing them, or quarantining them from your own content using paywalls or other protection mechanisms.

So, what our two reports for the Smart Services CRC aim to do instead is to provide an accessible, level-headed introduction to social media which draws substantially on produsage theory but tries to present those ideas in as simple and straightforward a manner as possible (without, hopefully, dumbing them down too much). I've even gone as far as avoiding to use the term 'produsage' itself all too much, in order not to scare any overanxious corporate strategists who might be frightened off by their encounter with new ideas...

Produsage and Politics: Another Article in German

Hot on the heels of the new book chapter that I mentioned in my previous post comes another chapter (though technically this one was indeed published in 2009, while the previous one has been pre-dated to 2010 - such are the mysteries of academic publishing). And this chapter is another one of my German-language articles, too, this time on produsage (or Produtzung) and its implications for politics and political organisations - which may also make it a useful companion piece to my recent interview for Polar Magazin.

Soziale Netze in der digitalen WeltThe book, Soziale Netze in der digitalen Welt, edited by Christoph Bieber, Martin Eifert, Thomas Groß, and Jörn Lamla, follows on from a conference in Gießen at which I presented in 2008, but my contribution, "Produtzung: Von medialer zu politischer Partizipation", takes a considerably longer view of potential developments in political participation than the more strongly citizen journalism-focussed paper at the conference itself; it explores similar ideas to my 2008 journal article for Information Polity, in fact.

Prosumer Revisited: From Prosumer to Produtzer

Prosumer Revisited

I'm very happy to announce that my latest article on produsage has now been published, in the (German-language) reader developed from the Prosumer Revisited conference which I attended earlier this year. Obviously, I argue in the book chapter that the 'prosumer' is no longer a useful term to describe the changes in participation and content creation which are occurring today, and the chapter provides a concise overview of produsage, or Produtzung, as an alternative. Probably a little more clearly than I did in my conference presentation itself!

Smart Services CRC "Social Media: State of the Art" Report Released

Over the past few months, I've been busy exploring the potential for sustainable corporate approaches to engaging with produsage - this is what I've discussed for example in my recent presentations at next09 (in English) and the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation / Hans-Bredow-Institut conference in Hamburg (in German), for example. Too many businesses still seem to believe that they can simply scoop the cream off the top of the various spaces for user-led content creation, without understanding the inevitable negative repercussions which result from any perception by users that they're just being exploited as cheap labour.

Quite a few of the ideas presented in those conference papers (and the associated interviews) draw substantially on my work with Mark Bahnisch in the Smart Services CRC, and so it's very timely that our first report for the CRC has now also been released. The report provides an overview of the state of the art in social media, and focusses especially on the dynamics of user community participation in social media sites; as part of this, we're also looking at a number of leading social media sites (and one or two 'interesting failures'), particularly in three key areas: news and views, products and places, and networking and dating.

Beyond Broadcasting: TV as a (Deficient) Form of Streaming Media

Beyond BroadcastingContinuing the streaming media theme on from Wednesday: the latest issue of the journal Media International Australia has now been released - "Beyond Broadcasting", edited by Graham Meikle and Sherman Young. I've contributed an article and have received permission from the editors to re-publish it here. In the article, I try to take a fresh look at television in an increasingly Internet-driven media environment.

Traditionally, the Net's equivalents to television (mainly, streaming media) have been viewed through the lens of the older technology; to some extent, streaming media has tried to mimic television's feel and format - this is visible in the user interfaces of media players like Windows and Real, and even (though perhaps with some irony intended) in brand names such as YouTube,, or Democracy TV, the original name for the podcast feedreader Miro. I would argue that this is a case of what we could call a paleomorphising process: the tendency to shape new media technologies in keeping with older technologies. (In much the same way, it's taken decades for the mobile phone to look and feel like a mobile media and communications device, rather than simply like a wireless handset.)

ABC Digital Media Forum 2008 - Beyond Public Service Broadcasting: Produsage at the ABC

This time next Friday, I'll be attending the 2008 ABC Digital Media Forum, an internal strategy conference that aims to develop innovative approaches to engaging with digital media (and importantly, digital media users) for our national broadcaster. I won't be blogging the full conference itself, as much of what will be discussed there will remain confidential for the moment, but I'm sure I'll be able at least to post my overall impressions. For some years now, the ABC has taken a markedly proactive stance towards exploring the potential of participatory new media models; it will be exciting to see what's already in the pipeline for the near future, and what may be possible a little further down the track.

I was invited to the conference by Tony Walker, Manager of the ABC's Digital Radio division (and the driving force behind the ABC Digital Futures blog), and will provide a few thoughts for a session titled "Content Production in the Age of Participation". Below is a draft of my remarks - any comments, especially from current or potential users of the ABC's services, would be very welcome...

Beyond Public Service Broadcasting: Produsage at the ABC

By Axel Bruns


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