Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond

On: September 14, 2008
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About Maggie Badermadjian


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Dr Axel Bruns is the author of Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and has also authored Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production and edited Uses of Blogs with Joanne Jacobs.
I must admit when I first read the title of the book I wasn’t really enthusiastic about it… but as I continued reading I found that this is an excellent perspective and analysis of content production and production usage also known as “produsage”.
The book itself is divided into 15 chapters, analysing the shift from production to produsage, it is based on a lot of empirical evidence, giving us all types of different examples in order to reach a full understanding of the whole concept.
It makes us reach an awareness level about peer production from another point of view i.e. by stressing the discontinuity of social innovation that it represents.

Bruns describes through his book the creative, collaborative and ad hoc engagement with content for which user-led spaces such as Wikipedia, act as examples. We can also see that produsage is described as a state of creation, taking place outside the established industry of whichever field such content is attempted in. It examines in detail the role of consumer and even that of end user, and the distraction between producers and users of content that have faded into comparative insignificance. Nevertheless, we see through this book how “we” the users become the producers by providing information that can be viewed and interacted by others at a later stage. He examines all the characteristics, principles and consequences of “produsage”, he argues that there is no longer a separation within production, distribution and consumption since we become the producers, distributors and consumers all at the same time, since we are producing information and services for an interactive world wide web this means that the information provided is always unfinished, but at the same time infinitely increasing.

Fundamentally this book is about communities and their patterns and protocols of interaction and collaboration, or what the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, has described as interactivity. Interactivity constitutes a significant step beyond mere interactivity; a step is made possible by the use of non-hierarchical, many to many media in intercreative environments. Users collaborate (often in large communities) on the development and extension of shared informational resources of common interest, rather than merely interacting with the material already available, they are taking into their own hands the tools to create content. As a result, such users are engaged in the development of a more participatory culture, as Jenkins points out. He similarly highlights a distinction between interactivity and participation, words that are often used interchangeably but which assume rather different meanings. Participation is shaped by cultural and social protocols. Participation is more open-ended, less under the control of media producers and more under the control of media consumers. The book searches deeply  into what role technology might play in supporting or delaying the further development of produsage projects, especially when we start taking into consideration who is it that actually operates this technology.

I suggest if you want a deeper understanding and a good analysis of what is happening now on the world wide web and how it is evolving in the near future then reading this book is a must.

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