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Produsers and Produsage

Twitter and the Media: Methods, ATNIX, Citizen Journalism, and the Olympics

Here are some more updates on my recent adventures in the world of Twitter research. First, I’m very happy to report that a new chapter on the impact of Twitter on the long-standing melée between industrial and citizen journalism has now been published. In the article, co-written with my CCI colleague Tim Highfield, we explore how the emergence of Twitter as a middle ground between the branded spaces of news Websites and citizen journalist blogs and other sites complicates the previously somewhat more obvious battle lines between the two sides – extending a process of, if not convergence then at least increasing interconnection, which has been evident for some time (except for the last remaining cold warriors of the blog wars).

The article has been published in Produsing Theory in a Digital World, edited by Rebecca Ann Lind – congratulations on what looks like a very interesting volume. (And on a personal note, it’s also very gratifying to see yet another colleague take up the produsage idea and do interesting things with it, of course.)

Axel Bruns and Tim Highfield. “Blogs, Twitter, and Breaking News: The Produsage of Citizen Journalism.” In Rebecca Ann Lind, ed., Produsing Theory in a Digital World: The Intersection of Audiences and Production. New York: Peter Lang, 2012.

New Work on the Australian Twittersphere, and on Produsage

Phew – it’s been a busy month since my last update. Here’s a run-down of the latest news. First, the emerging maps of the Australian Twittersphere which I presented at the Digital Humanities Australasia conference in Canberra in March have received quite a bit of press coverage over the past week or so, following our press release about this work. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Australian ran a big page three article about our research, and reprinted the annotated map itself;
  • the Australian Financial Review also printed the map on page three;
  • Stilgherrian gave us a great write-up in Crikey;
  • Websites and newspapers also ran a syndicated story about the map;
  • industry sites B&T and Startupsmart pointed out the commercial uses of this enhanced understanding of the Australian Twittersphere;
  • and even science site covered our work.

I’ve also done about a dozen radio interviews about this research (which isn’t easy, considering how visual this work is); will post up some links to recordings if they become available. More information about this work is also available on the (newly refurbished) Mapping Online Publics Website, of course.

Wrapping Up the Year with Some More Publications, and New Projects

Time for a quick update again: I’m hardly even back from the SBPJor conference in Rio de Janeiro in November, but my keynote “Gatekeeping, Gatewatching, Real-Time Feedback: New Challenges for Journalism” from the conference has already been published in the Brazilian Journalism Research journal, alongside the other keynotes. I posted the slides and audio from the presentation last month – and a similar presentation in German, from my visit to Vienna in March, is also online here.

When I arrived back in my office from the Rio trip, I was also very pleased to see that the Digital Difference book, collecting papers from the 2007 Ideas, Cyberspace, Education 3 conference on the shores of Loch Lomond, had finally arrived. It’s been a long road, but congratulations to the editors, Ray Land and Siân Bayne, for sticking with the project. My article, “Beyond Difference: Reconfiguring Education for the User-Led Age”, applies produsage concepts to explore new approaches to education.

Three Challenges for Journalism in the Social Media Age

Rio de Janeiro.
My own keynote presentation started the second day of SBPJor. Powerpoint and audio are below; the full paper (which attacks the topic from a slightly different angle, but makes much the same points) is also online.

My sincere thanks to Carlos Franciscato and the SBPJor organisation for the invitation to speak at the conference; it’s been great to meet some of the many Brazilian journalism researchers whose work I’ve been aware of for some time now. I’m sorry that because of the language barrier I’ve not been able to participate more fully in the conference itself, but I hope my contribution has been useful – some good discussion in question time, certainly!

Towards Open Innovation and Open Science

The first keynote of the Berlin Symposium is by Oliver Gassmann, whose focus is on societal innovation. He notes the changes to communication which are associated with the popularisation of the Internet over the past twenty years; when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, for example, there were no online platforms to tweet the news; there was no Google to search for information with.

In 2010, some 107 trillion emails were sent; Facebook has 800 million users (and 35 million update their profiles every day); but we still don’t live entirely ‘virtual’ lives – rather, the Net has become central to our actual lives. This also raises significant privacy concerns, of course; in Germany and Switzerland, there were substantial concerns about Google Streetview, for example, but at the same time we also give a great deal of information about ourselves away freely all the time.

Commercial Approaches to User Collaboration

The next speaker at Challenge Social Innovation is Heidemarie Hanekop, whose focus is on user collaboration with companies. First, of course, such collaborations are importantly enabled by the Web, which makes a broad base of new knowledge publicly available and thereby enables new forms of information sharing and collaboration. This can happen with and without the help of commercial interests – from Wikipedia and open source to Facebook and YouTube.

Such new collaborative spaces are clearly attractive to users, which has also led to the involvement of companies in this space. But user collaboration stands in sharp contrast to the hierarchical organisation of companies and markets, so how can this work? What are the mechanisms that enable user collaboration on a large scale? How do companies adapt these mechanisms for their own purposes?

User-Led Innovation: The Case of Crytek

The next speaker at Challenge Social Innovation is Birgit Blättel-Mink, who focusses on the case of German games developer Crytek (which developed Far Cry, Crysis, and other games), based in Frankfurt, which engages with its users as innovators. The company has some 600 employees distributed across five international studios and two distribution centres; its core product is the Cry games engine.

Crytek’s user community includes casual gamers (on social networks), hardcore gamers (in the Crytek Mycrisis community and other online communities), and modders who generate modified games modules and take part in various specialist communities. Casual gamers are engaged with for marketing and promotion, hardcore gamers participate in quality control, bug reports, and bug fixing, and modders drive user-led innovation.

Ad Hoc Social Innovation on Twitter

The next session at Challenge Social Innovation starts with my own paper, on Twitter as a case for social innovation (and the challenges which exist in such a proprietary environment, governed by competing interests). My Powerpoint is below, and I’ll try to add the audio later the audio is online now, too. The full paper is also online here.


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