Paper presented at Transforming Audiences conference, London, 3-4 Sep. 2009. Abstract: Alvin Toffler’s image of the prosumer (1970, 1980, 1990) continues to influence in a significant way our understanding of the user-led, collaborative processes of content creation which are today labelled “social media” or “Web 2.0”. A closer look at Toffler’s own description of his prosumer model reveals, however, that it remains firmly grounded in the mass media age: the prosumer is clearly not the self-motivated creative originator and developer of new content which can today be observed in projects ranging from open source software through Wikipedia to Second Life, but simply a particularly well-informed, and therefore both particularly critical and particularly active, consumer. The highly specialised, high end consumers which exist in areas such as hi-fi or car culture are far more representative of the ideal prosumer than the participants in non-commercial (or as yet non-commercial) collaborative projects. And to expect Toffler’s 1970s model of the prosumer to describe these 21st-century phenomena was always an unrealistic expectation, of course. To describe the creative and collaborative participation which today characterises user-led projects such as Wikipedia, terms such as ‘production’ and ‘consumption’ are no longer particularly useful – even in laboured constructions such as ‘commons-based peer-production’ (Benkler 2006) or ‘p2p production’ (Bauwens 2005). In the user communities participating in such forms of content creation, roles as consumers and users have long begun to be inextricably interwoven with those as producer and creator: users are always already also able to be producers of the shared information collection, regardless of whether they are aware of that fact – they have taken on a new, hybrid role which may be best described as that of a produser (Bruns 2008). Projects which build on such produsage can be found in areas from open source software development through citizen journalism to Wikipedia, and beyond this also in multi-user online computer games, filesharing, and even in communities collaborating on the design of material goods. While addressing a range of different challenges, they nonetheless build on a small number of universal key principles. This paper documents these principles and indicates the possible implications of this transition from production and prosumption to produsage. References: Bauwens, Michel. (2005, 15 June) “Peer to Peer and Human Evolution.” Integral Visioning. http://integralvisioning.org/article.php?story=p2ptheory1 (accessed 1 Mar. 2007). Benkler, Yochai. (2006) The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Bruns, Axel. (2008) Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. New York: Peter Lang. Toffler, Alvin. (1970) Future Shock. New York: Random House. ———. (1980) The Third Wave. New York: Bantam. ———. (1990) Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century. New York: Bantam.
- 1. From Prosumer to Produser:Understanding User-Led Content Creation Dr Axel Bruns Associate Professor ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation Creative Industries Faculty Queensland University of Technology [email_address] http://snurb.info/ http://produsage.org/
2. User-Generated Content
- Widespread trend in media practice:
- social media, social networking
- new, collaborative forms of content creation
- across many interests and practices
- Has Tofflers prosumer arrived?
- The word is a combination of producer and consumer that perfectly describes the millions of participants in the Web 2.0 revolution. ( Techcrunch , 2007)
- (Image: http://flickr.com/photos/stabilo-boss/93136022/)
3. Tofflers Prosumer
- Dreams of a customer-activated manufacturing system:
- In the end, the consumer, not merely providing the specs but punching the button that sets this entire process in action, will become as much a part of the production process as the denim-clad assembly-line worker was in the world now dying. ( The Third Wave , 1980: 274)
- Producer and consumer, divorced by the industrial revolution, are reunited in the cycle of wealth creation, with the customer contributing not just the money but market and design information vital for the production process. Buyer and supplier share data, information, and knowledge. Someday, customers may also push buttons that activate remote production processes. Consumer and producer fuse into a prosumer. ( Powershift , 1990: 239)
4. The Professional Consumer?
- What do we mean by prosumer?
- On-demand production initiated by consumers?
- On-demand production of customer-submitted / modified designs?
- Involvement of customers in design processes?
- Or simply conventional high-end consumers? E.g.
- Individual lead users (as described by von Hippel)
- Prosumers remain dependent on industry production
5. (Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/schwenke/3022767703/) 6. (Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/topherous/93506030/) 7. Beyond Production
- decline of the traditional value chain:
- (producer advised by consumerdistributorconsumer)
- (customer-made ideasproducerdistributorconsumer)
8. Whats Happening Here?
- Commercial interests Harnessing the Hive (J.C. Herz)?
- Pro-Am Production (Charles Leadbeater & Paul Miller)?
- Citizen-Consumer (John Hartley)?
- User-generated products, created by a new Generation C ( Trendwatching.com )?
- Commons-based peer production (Yochai Benkler)?
- P2P Production (Michel Bauwens)?
- Is production still an appropriate term?
9. A New Value Chain?
content content 10. Produsage
- emerging in various domains:
- open source software development
- open news e.g.Slashdot ,Indymedia ,OhmyNews
- social bookmarking e.g.del.icio.us ,digg
- geotagging e.g.Google Earth ,Frappr
- e.g.The Sims ,Everquest ,Second Life ,Spore
- media sharing and creative practice
- e.g.Flickr ,ccMixter ,YouTube ,Jumpcut ,Current.tv
- reviews and viral marketing
- Google ,Amazon ,Technorati
11. Common Characteristics
- shared across diverse environments:
- Open Participation, Communal Evaluation the community as a whole, if sufficiently large and varied, can contribute more than a closed team of producers, however qualified
- Fluid Heterarchy,Ad HocMeritocracy produsers participate as is appropriate to their personal skills, interests, and knowledges; this changes as the produsage project proceeds
- Unfinished Artefacts, Continuing Process content artefacts in produsage projects are continually under development, and therefore always unfinished; their development follows evolutionary, iterative, palimpsestic paths
- Common Property, Individual Merit - contributors permit (non-commercial) community use of their intellectual property, and are rewarded by the status capital
12. (http://www.research.ibm.com/visual/projects/history_flow/capitalism1.htm) 13. (http://jpgmag.com/issues/19/full) 14. Produsage
- anyone can edit users become producers of content
- outcomes are no longer distinct products they are temporary artefacts of a continuing process
- usage and production are increasingly, inextricably intertwined
- strict distinctions between producers, distributors, and consumers no longer apply
- a new Generation C of content produsers?
15. (http://freebeer.org/blog/archives/134) 16. Breaking the Chains content development space set up by community or company to harbour produsage (e.g. Wikimedia Foundation; Google; SourceForge) commercial / non-profit harvesting of user-generated content (e.g.The Sims ,Wikipediaon CD-ROM) commercial / non-profit services to support produsage (e.g. Red Hat, SourceForge) commercial activities by users themselves, harnessing the hive (e.g. support services, consultancies, content sales) initial IP contributions from individuals, the public domain, or commercial sources collaborative, iterative, evolutionary, palimpsesticuser-led content development valuable, often commercial-grade content is created Produsage Environment (populated by produsers) 17. Further Extensions of Produsage Logic
- From intangible to tangible processes:
- collaborative design innovation in the kitesurfing community (cf. von Hippel,Democratizing Innovation )
- social lending:Zopa ,Prosper
- From community to Pro-Am collaborations:
- citizen journalism:OhmyNews ,myHeimat
- NASAsClickworkers , and Pro-Am astronomers (cf. Leadbeater & Miller,The Pro-Am Revolution )
- crowdsourcing of innovation: e.g.Innocentive
18. Viral Marketing
- ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
- Creative Industries Faculty
- Queensland University of Technology
- Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond:From Production to Produsage(Peter Lang, 2008)
- Uses of Blogs , eds. Axel Bruns and Joanne Jacobs (Peter Lang, 2006)
- Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production(Peter Lang, 2005)