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2008: The Year of Produsage

Happy new year, everyone - I'm glad we've made it. In this first post for 2008, I'm delighted to announce the launch of a new Website to accompany my forthcoming book and track further research: will be a central space for anything that relates to the concept of produsage - for now, I've already posted up some introductory definitions and background information about produsage, excerpted from the book, a few articles about the concept, and some more details about Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage itself. This doesn't mean I'll discontinue this site, of course - but is now the key site for all produsage information, and I'll cross-post material here as appropriate.

For me, 2007 was incredibly busy - buying a house, taking several overseas trips, writing the produsage book and a raft of other articles, starting a new group blog, and covering the Australian federal election through Youdecide2007 and our "Club Bloggery" series at ABC Online and I'm incredibly grateful to my colleagues, friends, family, and especially of course to my partner Ann for supporting me through all of this, and helping me along with good advice and friendly criticism when I needed it.

No doubt, 2008 will be busy again - and a few key projects really stand out already. The Smart Services Cooperative Research Centre is about to be launched very soon, and (once final negotiations between the participating universities and industry partners are complete) I'll be one of a number of Creative Industries staff taking on research projects within the CRC. My main project here is an extension of my research into produsage into the commercial realm - that is, exploring ways for our industry partners to harness the grassroots activities of produsers in a way that both enhances their own services and products and respects the internal dynamics of produsage communities themselves. (Mere exploitation of produsage through harvesting or hijacking produsage communities and their artefacts is now well recognised as ultimately likely to lead to substantial negative repercussions for corporations.)

Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to ProdusageAnd overall, too, produsage will be the central theme for me in 2008, of course. Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage will be launched in February (one of my last tasks in 2007 was to approve the cover design, and the book is now being printed as we speak), and over the holiday break I spent some time getting ready for action. I can't wait to see how the book is received by its readers - the comments from Henry Jenkins and Michel Bauwens for the back cover endorsements were very positive, and I hope that trend will continue. I'll say more about this on soon, but Michel Bauwens has already also posted a review of the book on the P2P Foundation blog in which he goes as far as to situate the book in the neighbourhood of Karl Marx's Das Kapital:

While it is not what Capital was for industrial capitalism, it strongly reminds the reader of the efforts by Marx to think through all the ramifications of the commodity form. What we get here is an examination of all the ramifications of the 'produsage' form, key characteristic of peer production.

Those are some big shoes to fill, and while my aim in the book certainly is to think through the processes and artefacts of produsage as widely and broadly as possible, I do want to repeat here what I say in the introduction to the book - it can necessarily serve only as a first contribution to the task of synthesising the various available approaches to examining what happens in commons-based peer production, social software, Web 2.0, and related environments, moving beyond the commonplace assumptions associated with traditional concepts of producers, products, and production, and developing a systematic understanding of the processes, principles, and participants of produsage. The book is intended as the starting point, not the closing statement, in a conversation about produsage and its implications; it should not be read as providing a final definition of produsage and its processes that must remain fixed in stone (or at least in ink on paper) forever. My main wish for 2008 and beyond is that interested readers will continue the conversation about produsage through the means of produsage itself - both in direct engagement with me through, and on a wider scale through the appropriate environments of collaborative knowledge management that produsage itself provides.

Michel ends,

my conclusion is the following: if you have the slightest curiosity about the future of human organization, if you want to understand what is going on NOW, then reading the Bruns book is a must. When your grandchildren will ask you where you where doing the days of change, you will remember when it was that you read that book

- and while I won't deny that I'd be more than delighted if this came to pass, I'd happily settle for something much less egotistical: if the book encourages many more people to get involved in using, contributing to, and having a hand in coordinating the sites and artefacts of produsage, that'll do for me.

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as important as marx?!? isn't that like john lennon saying the beatles are bigger than jesus? =)

congratulations on completing a much anticipated book.

the cover is GORGEOUS.

Thanks David - the cover is a painting by my partner Ann McLean, and you can see some more of her work at her site...