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Produsers and Produsage

New Methodologies for Popular Communication Research into Convergence

The next presenters at this ICA 2010 pre-conference are Lothar Mikos and Ilona Ammann, who begin by highlighting the idea of convergence (a dangerous word, according to Roger Silverstone in the mid-90s). Convergence means the flow of content across multiple media platforms, connected to the cooperation between multiple media industries and the movement of users across platforms - so it exists on various levels: on the level of texts and the media (in transmedia storytelling, hybrid forms, and global and national brands) and on the level of audiences (in transcultural audiences, audience engagement, and audiences as producers.

Key Transmedia Concepts for Popular Communication Research

The next speaker at this ICA 2010 preconference is Ranjana Das, who also notes the changing nature of audiencing and the move towards user-led content creation. Audiences and users, she says, can now be placed in a continuum of sorts, and to grasp this requires methodological advances. There are a number of shared interests in audience and in user studies, and both move beyond a mere individualistic focus on motivations and take a strongly interdisciplinary approach.

There is an increasing conceptual challenge here, however: the visual is becoming more important; it does not simply replace the verbal; hypertextual formats offer new modes of engagement; and so a new communicative order us upon us. In the process, reception, interpretation, text and genre are becoming more and more difficult to define. Divergence and diversity in interpreting texts is highly important, too.

Challenges for Popular Communication Research Today

From steamy Hong Kong I've now travelled to humid Singapore, where the 2010 conference of the International Communication Association is about to get underway. This Tuesday we're starting with a pre-conference on methodological questions in popular communication reearch. Pre-conference organiser Cornel Sandvoss begins by highlighting the significant intertextuality of media texts - and there is a quantitative increase in media content and use. Additionally, narratives are increasingly moving transmedia, and lines between the producers and users of content are blurring.

Fansubbing in China as a Form of Produsage

Hong Kong.
The final speaker in this session at The Internet Turning 40 is Donna Chu, who highlights the different forms of content creation which are emerging in Web 2.0 environments as the nature of production and consumption is shifting. Does this mean that users are empowered or exploited in this environment? What forms of civic participation are possible here?

Some of these questions are not new, but continue similar discussions in the area of fandom - fans have been creating content for a very long time, and have now simply moved online to share that content. Fans mobilise in support for discontinued TV shows, create petitions to save characters which are to be dumped from TV shows, etc. TV fans who participate in this way, though, are also contributing free labour to these TV shows, and could be seen as being exploited.

Interpreting the Development of Twitter

Hong Kong.
We're starting the last day of The Internet Turning 40 with the session that I'm in as well - but the first speaker is José van Dijck, who introduces the idea of 'interpretive flexibility' - an approach for examining technologies that remain in flux. Why and how do technologies become dominant over time; how can we trace this process while it is happening; and why is it important to do so? She is applying this specifically to Twitter (and microblogging in general) here.

There are four factors here: technologies and services, mediated social practices, cultural form and content, and business models. All of these are important when examining emerging platforms, of course. Microblogging, José says, is both a tool and a service - and its versatility is crucial to its success. When it was launched, it was unclear what it would become; by 2007, it was adopted and integrated by a large number of other social media platform, and in the process adapted its interface and technological specificities to their needs (but this took place the other way around, too). Since then, there has been an 'appliancisation' of Twitter, turning it into a closed, applied platform, and reducing its versatility and openness.

The Drive towards Journalism 2.0

Hong Kong.
The final speaker in this session at The Internet Turning 40 is Alice Lee, who continues the focus on online news. She says that online news sites in a Web 2.0 operate like a digital marketplace where people get together and exchange news, and explores how Web 2.0 has affected these sites. The format of online media is particularly important, in other words - the breaking of previously existing boundaries which has occurred with Web 2.0 has upset the previous equilibrium and led to significant changes.

g4c2c: Enabling Citizen Engagement at Arms' Length from Government

My own presentation (of a paper co-authored with my colleague Adam Swift) was up next at EDEM 2010, and I've already posted up the slides and full paper - audio to follow some time soon, hopefully! now added as well. Bit rushed, but I hope it made sense...

Beware the Goverati: e-Democracy Processes in the Post-Industrial Age

The second keynote speaker at EDEM 2010 is Ismail Peña-López, who begins from an economic perspective: he notes that in the orthodox view, the basic structure of the production system is that inputs (resources) are acted upon by labour and capital in the production process, generating outputs (products). Democratic processes are traditionally based and built upon this production process, too - scarcity of resources, transaction costs, and processes of intermediation are its fundamental delimiting elements,which democracy attempts to coordinate.


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