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The Mojtaba Saminejad Lecture

‘Anyone Can Edit’: Understanding the Produser

Wednesday, September 28, 6-8pm, DMS 235


Dr Axel Bruns
Creative Industries Faculty
Queensland University of Technology
Brisbane, Australia

Recent decades have seen the dual trend of growing digitization of content, and of increasing availability of sophisticated tools for creating, manipulating, publishing, and disseminating that content. Advertising campaigns openly encourage users to ‘Rip. Mix. Burn.’ and to share the fruits of their individual or collaborative efforts with the rest of the world. The Internet has smashed the distribution bottleneck of older media, and the dominance of the traditional producer > publisher > distributor value chain has weakened. Marshall McLuhan’s dictum ‘everyone’s a publisher’ is on the verge of becoming a reality – and more to the point, as the Wikipedia proudly proclaims, ‘anyone can edit.’

The effect of these changes is not simply more (and more informed) consumption, however – we are not turning into Alvin Toffler’s ‘prosumers’: consumers with an almost professional level of knowledge about what they consume, but consumers nonetheless. Instead, the networked and hypermediated persona that emerges is a very different beast: users are becoming active producers of content in a variety of open and collaborative environments. Whether it is as members of the distributed development and testing community for open source software projects, as authors, editors, and fact-checkers for one of the multi-lingual Wikipedia sites, as content developers for The Sims and other games, as reporters, commentators, and pundits in open news publications ranging from South Korean citizen news site OhmyNews to tech-nerd haven Slashdot, or as global explorers and annotators for Google Earth, they are no longer producers or consumers, publishers or audiences, but both at the same time. They are not prosumers, but user-producers: produsers. Trendwatching.com even sees a whole ‘Generation C’ of produsers emerging before our eyes. But just who are they, what are the implications of their work?

Dr Axel Bruns teaches and conducts research about online publishing, electronic creative writing, online communities and popular music in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. He is iDC researcher-in-residence this fall. Bruns is the author of Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (New York: Peter Lang, 2005), and a founding editor of the online academic publications M/C – Media and Culture and dotlit: The Online Journal of Creative Writing.

Mojtaba Saminejad is an Iranian blogger who is currently serving a two-year prison sentence, ostensibly for reporting on the arrests of two fellow bloggers. He was sentenced for ‘insulting the Supreme Guide’, but cleared of a charge of ‘insulting the prophets’ (which carries the death penalty).

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