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Al on Produsion

Produser Some thoughts on Produsion after workshop with Axel Bruns

Axel Bruns has coined a new term, Produsers, to describe the role of people when they are in a situation in which they, as users of a specific resource are also the creators of that resource.

As examples he gave blogs and Wikipedia.

I believe that the Wikipedia mode fits this concept rather well. Content is contributed and managed by site users.

But I believe that blogs overstate the case.  I believe he meant that blogs are relevant to this idea of Produsion in two ways:

1)the barrier to entry to starting a blog is rather low - so it is rather accessible (given a few conditions we have started to take for granted ˆ internet access, technical literacy, a computer, etc, of  course); and also,

2)the blog form allows for comments. I don't think the concept fits well for blogs.  Blog comments are controlled by the owner or administrator who can delete specific comments or "turn off comments" altogether. I do think that blogs are part of a media landscape that has become more multi- voiced but I don't think they are part of a radically new concept in media production. I think that blogs are more fitted to an indie media model we've seen develop in print with fanzines and the like.

However the wiki model does seem like something that warrants a new frame of reference.

After the meeting with Axel Bruns I tried to come up with „offline‰ examples of this sort of social model and came up with 12-step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous pick-up basketball games (no referees - players negotiate scorekeeping, fouls, game length etc) subcultural scenes (when the scene becomes marketed it loses it's felt to lose its authenticity - and sometimes it's hard to see
why ˆ when the style, the ideology, the music, body language, etc remains largely the same. Perhaps its not the "product" (ie a range of cultural behaviors and signifiers) that now is diminished but the fact
that it has  passed out of the  mode of Produsion.)

I am also concerned to find a physical world corollary in which Produsion produces something in the material world. In the meeting Chris and someone else mentioned a site or type of site in which
people make promises to do something if others will pledge help or support. The example was "I will build a bench in the park on Saturday if I can get three people to show up and help me." This sort of idea I'd like to find out more about as it seems to provide a mode where material resources could be accumulated and used Wiki style.

References/ Recommended Reading

Al, thanks for this - some very useful comments. If I may add a couple of clarifications:

1. I think the noun should be 'produsage' rather than 'produsion' - again following the model of combining 'prod' with the relevant derivative or 'use'.

2. In talking about blogs I was thinking less about specific individual blogs and more about the blogosphere as a whole, which could be described as a collaborative writing space where (as you point out) the barriers to contribution are very low. The fact that comments can be (and often are) relatively tightly controlled then doesn't matter so much any more - any blogger can attach comments to any other blog post (or other Web resource) simply by citing the URL and discussing its contents on their own blog.

However, I do note at the same time that it is becoming relatively pointless to talk about blogs as if they're all the same - rather, we should look more closely at, say, the news-related blogosphere, the academic blogosphere, or other subsets which are devoted to specific interests or topics, and see whether produsage (that is, collaborative user-led content production) exists in these instances. Only this can determine whether produsage is a useful term to describe what happens in blogging, or not.

(I also still need to develop a clear, detailed but succinct, and water-tight definition of produsage, by the way - and discussions such as this are very useful in this context; so, thanks !)

Axel Bruns

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