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


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My talk at ATOM2006 outlined the produser 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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Teaching the Produsers: Preparing Students for User-Led Content Production

  1. 1. Teaching the Produsers: Preparing Students for User-Led Content Production Dr Axel Bruns Creative Industries Faculty Queensland University of Technology [email_address]
  2. 2. User-Led Content Production <ul><li>emerging in various domains: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>open source software development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>online publishing: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>blogs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>open news – e.g. Slashdot , Indymedia , OhmyNews </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>knowledge management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>wikis – e.g. Wikipedia </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Google Earth </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>multi-user gaming: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. The Sims , Everquest , Second Life , Spore </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>creative practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. Flickr , ccMixter , YouTube , Jumpcut , Current.tv </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>viral marketing </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Common Characteristics <ul><li>shared across these environments: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>users are productive – they create new content, and make this available to others directly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>engagement is collaborative – users work together in creating content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>artefacts are unfinished – they are constantly being updated in minor or major revisions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>this palimpsestic development requires the use of alternatives to traditional copyright licences </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. What’s Happening Here? <ul><li>emergence of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the prosumer (Alvin Toffler)? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the citizen-consumer (John Hartley)? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>pro-am production (Charles Leadbeater & Paul Miller)? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>customer-made products ( Trendwatching.com )? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>corporations harnessing the hive (J.C. Herz)? </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Beyond Production <ul><li>such models retain a traditional value chain: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>producer  distributor  consumer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>producer advised by consumer  distributor  consumer </li></ul><ul><li>customer-made  back to producer  distributor  consumer </li></ul>
  6. 6. Beyond Production <ul><li>such traditional value chains rely on key assumptions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>products exist in discrete versions, and producers decide when these are to be released </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the distribution of products is controlled (and controllable) by producers and distributors, not by consumers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>consumers are relatively isolated – only producers have access to the whole community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the core business lies in the sale of copyrighted products </li></ul></ul><ul><li>but in a user-led environment, this is no longer true: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the latest update is always immediately available – e.g. open source, Wikipedia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>content is available for direct access online – users become producers, and the Net replaces the distributor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>consumers join together in enthusiast groups, interest groups, developer groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the core business lies in providing value-added services around freely available content </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Breaking the Chains content development space set up by community or company (e.g. Wikimedia Foundation; Google) commercial / non-profit harnessing of user-generated content (e.g. The Sims ) commercial / non-profit services to support content development (e.g. Red Hat, SourceForge) commercial activities by users themselves (e.g. support services, consultancies, content sales) initial IP contributions from public domain or commercial sources collaborative, iterative, evolutionary, palimpsestic user-led content development valuable, often commercial-grade content is created
  8. 8. Produsage <ul><li>beyond production: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ anyone can edit’ – users become producers of content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>usage and production are increasingly, inextricably intertwined </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>strict distinctions between producers, distributors, and consumers no longer apply </li></ul></ul><ul><li>this is produsage </li></ul>
  9. 9. Characteristics of Produsage <ul><li>users </li></ul><ul><ul><li>are productive: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>projects are led by users, or </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>involve them as key contributors </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>engage collaboratively: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>with one another, or </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>with institutional partners; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>in flexible roles and with varying intensity, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>in self-organising, often fluid and heterarchical communities </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Characteristics of Produsage <ul><li>content artefacts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>remain always unfinished: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>iterative, evolutionary, palimpsestic development leads to </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>constant revisioning, with a potential for </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>forking into different development directions – thus </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ending the product revision cycle </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>are prodused under alternative copyright licences: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>collaborative authorship by </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>volunteer contributors in collaboration with </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>professional developers, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>building on a recognition of individual contributions while </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>acknowledging the need to enable further palimpsestic development </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Key Questions for Produsage <ul><li>Is the economic model workable? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>harnessing, harbouring, harvesting, hijacking the hive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>reconciling alternative IP licences and commercial exploitation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>EULAs and commercial ownership of produsage spaces </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Is the community model sustainable? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>considerable churn within communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>long-term sustainability of volunteer-based produsage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>development of workable community structures – anarchy, panarchy, heterarchy, benevolent dictatorship? </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Key Questions for Produsage <ul><li>Consequences of content omnivoracity? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>need for better understanding of IP licencing options </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>problems with building on proprietary material </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>disregard for IP frameworks amongst produser community </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Liability for prodused content? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>responsibilities of the produsage space provider </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>responsibilities of the individual content produser </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>identifying liable parties in collaborative produsage </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Incompleteness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>need for ‘use at own risk’ disclaimers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>but then, all (produced as well as prodused) artefacts contain room for improvement </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Wider Implications <ul><li>New paradigms: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>produsage is becoming increasingly widespread, under various guises </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Web2.0 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>social software </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>open collaborative environments </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>New generation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Trendwatching.com : Generation C </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Content Creation, Creativity, Casual Collapse, Control, Celebrity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>New society: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>industrial  informational  networked  produsage society? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>move of citizens from consumers to produsers of democracy? </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Educating the Produsers <ul><li>4C Education: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>need for new approaches to educating ‘Generation C’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>learner capacities: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>creative: knowledge creation through content creation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>collaborative: iterative and palimpsestic work across distributed and diverse teams </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>critical: produsers evaluate, enhance, and expand their peers’ work </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>communicative: effective communication between stakeholders underpins the process </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>(4Cs developed by Jude Smith, Ross Daniels, Axel Bruns, Stephen Towers, and Rachel Cobcroft) </li></ul>