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Produsers and Produsage

CFP: Exploring Produsage - Special Issue of New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia

With my colleague Jan Schmidt from the Hans-Bredow-Institut in Hamburg, I'm delighted to have been approached by the editors of the Taylor & Francis journal New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia to edit a special issue on produsage. Below is the Call for Papers - we welcome any enquiries and submissions. Please spread the word!

Exploring Produsage

A Special Issue of New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia

Call for papers

The concept of produsage points to the shift away from conventional producer/consumer relationships, and highlights the more fluid roles of users and contributors within social media environments. Participants in open source projects, in Wikipedia, in YouTube and Second Life are no longer merely consuming or using preproduced material, but neither are they at all times acting as fully self-determined producers of fully formed new works; rather, they occupy a hybrid position as produsers of content.

Predicting the Future of the Internet

I'm afraid I've been a very slack blogger over the summer - a range of existing and emerging research projects, and various other have got in the way. More on many of these soon; for now, I wanted to point to the latest report released by the Pew Internet research centre, "The Future of the Internet IV". In this series of reports, Pew presents the responses of high-profile experts from industry and academia to a series of controversial questions about the future of the Net. To stimulate responses on each question, Pew offered two relatively extreme scenarios of what the future may look like.

There's coverage of the report in a number of leading technology and culture publications, including ReadWriteWeb and Fast Company. For the latest edition, I was asked to contribute my thoughts, and I'm happy for some of those responses to have made their way into the report itself. For completeness's sake (and perhaps to see in ten years' time how far off the mark I was), here are my answers in full:

Will Google make us smart or stupid?

By 2020, people's use of the internet has enhanced human intelligence; as people are allowed unprecedented access to more information, they become smarter and make better choices. Nicholas Carr was wrong: Google does not make us stupid (

By 2020, people's use of the internet has not enhanced human intelligence and it could even be lowering the IQs of most people who use it a lot. Nicholas Carr was right: Google makes us stupid.

Social Media Volume 2: User Engagement Strategies

I'm very happy to report that the second part of my Social Media report for the Smart Services CRC has now been released, again under a Creative Commons licence. Volume 1 is still available here, and provides a general overview of the state of the art in social media; in doing so, it also points to a number of key social media sites which represent important developments in the field.

Volume 2 is divided into two parts: Part 1 offers background information that is crucial to the development of an understanding of how communities work and what motivates their participants to contribute, while Part 2 converts that understanding into a series of strategic recommendations for profit and non-profit organisations aiming to develop a presence within the social media environment. There is probably nothing here that will surprise long-time followers of social media developments - instead, the report aims at those individuals and organisations who feel the need to develop social media strategies, but have yet to establish a full understanding of what makes online communities tick, and of how to engage with them.

Two New Book Chapters on Produtzung

I haven't yet had a chance to note my latest two book chapters on produsage here - both in German, and following on from conferences in Germany which I spoke at in 2008 and 2009:

Prosumer Revisited

The reader Prosumer Revisited, from the Prosumer Revisited conference which I attended earlier this year, contains my chapter "Vom Prosumenten zum Produtzer", which argues that the 'prosumer' is no longer a useful term to describe the changes in participation and content creation which are occurring today, and provides a concise overview of produsage, or Produtzung, as an alternative. Probably a little more clearly than I did in my conference presentation itself!

New Reviews of the Produsage Book

(Crossposted from

I'm delighted to note that three new reviews of my book Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage - by Verena Laschinger, Alan Razee, and Erin Stark - have been published over at the Resource Centre for Cybercultural Studies. RCCS editor David Silver kindly also asked me to provide a response to these reviews, which point to a number of further avenues for research into the produsage phenomenon that I hope many of us who work in this field will pursue.

Blog Mapping and Beyond...

It's been a good week already - on Monday I've received notice that we've been successful with a major research grant application in this year's ARC Discovery round. The three-year project for which we're receiving $400,000 from the ARC, with my esteemed colleague Jean Burgess as the postdoc researcher, will extend the existing work on blog mapping which I've been engaged in for the past few years and take it to a new level - beyond capturing 'only' what happens in the Australian political blogosphere, we'll be working to get a much more comprehensive picture of Australian public communication online across blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and perhaps even Facebook. None of this would be possible without the fantastic work of our colleagues Lars Kirchhoff and Thomas Nicolai at Sociomantic Labs in Berlin, incidentally, so a very big thanks to them for their massive contribution so far - we're looking forward to the next three years... Below is the abstract for the research project (and no doubt I'll post more about it here as we get going in early 2010) - and there are various articles and presentations covering our blog mapping efforts to date elsewhere on this site.

New Media and Public Communication:
Mapping Australian User-Created Content in Online Social Networks

Understanding the ways people contribute to and use the Internet for a wide range of purposes is important to Australia's future from both a social and an economic perspective. Effective, evidence-based policy depends on developing a vastly improved understanding of the current level of Australians' online activities and interests. This project provides crucial, detailed baseline data on the social, cultural and technological dynamics of Australian online public communication, which can inform further government initiatives to strengthen the country's digital economy and to maximise civic engagement through media participation.

Produsage and Beyond: Exploring the Pro-Am Interface (JMRC)

Journalism & Media Research Centre / Curtin University of Technology

Produsage and Beyond: Exploring the Pro-Am Interface

Axel Bruns

  • 29 Oct. 2009, 2-4 p.m. - Staff Seminar, Seminar Room, Journalism & Media Research Centre, 3-5 Eurimbla St (corner High St), Randwick, Sydney

  • 29 April 2010 - Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia

The concept of produsage (Bruns 2008) describes the user-led collaborative approach to content creation which is prevalent in open source, citizen journalism, and the Wikipedia, as well as many other social media spaces. While many produsage projects have emerged initially to challenge dominant players in industry, their successful establishment as viable and sustainable alternatives also opens the door for an exploration of manageable cooperative arrangements between industry and community. Many challenges remain for such Pro-Am (Leadbeater & Miller 2004) models, however - not least an often deep-seated sense of mutual distrust -, and successful Pro-Am models may be most likely to succeed when sponsored by trusted third parties (public broadcasters, NGOs). This presentation explores pitfalls and possibilities in the Pro-Am space.

Tracking Social Media Participation: New Approaches to Studying User-Generated Content (JMRC)

Journalism & Media Research Centre

Tracking Social Media Participation:
New Approaches to Studying User-Generated Content

Axel Bruns

  • 29 Oct. 2009, 11 a.m.-12.30 p.m. - PhD Seminar, Seminar Room, Journalism & Media Research Centre, 3-5 Eurimbla St (corner High St), Randwick, Sydney

The impact of user-generated content on a variety of media industries and practices is by now well understood from a conceptual perspective (e.g. Benkler 2006; Jenkins 2006; Bruns 2008). What remains less thoroughly explored is the possibility to utilise the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies themselves to generate large datasets that can be used to track and evaluate user participation practices in order to develop a solid evidence base for further research into social media, and further development of social media projects, technologies, and policies. This presentation outlines research possibilities across a number of social media spaces, and uses the example of a current research project studying the Australian political blogosphere to explore potential methodological approaches.

The Political Economy of Web Science

The final speaker for this session at AoIR 2009 is Michael Dick, who focusses on the idea of Web science as political economy. This builds on Tim Berners-Lee's idea of Web Science, which applies especially computer science approaches to the study of the Web's evolution, design, and operation, with an aim of understanding and 'managing' the Web. The majority of these ideas, however, are the Semantic Web in disguise, Michael says.

This assumes a continual evolution of the Web, from a Web of documents to the interactive Web 2.0 and on to the 'deep Web' which further mines the vast amount of data generated through Web 2.0 services. The next steps from here are the Semantic Web and the Web of data, which describe and utilise this material using universal ontology languages. Essentially, this converts loose Web 2.0 folksonomies to manageable taxonomies.

Web 2.0 as Forming an Electronic Marketplace

OK, I'm soldiering on for the last of today's sessions at AoIR 2009 - can't wait to get back to my room and sleep off this illness, though. Hopefully I'll feel better for my session tomorrow! This session is on theorising Web 2.0, and we begin with Jacob Thomas Matthews. he begins by questioning Web 2.0 as a term, and suggests the collaboative Web as an alternative way of describing this phenomenon. Either way, this is often described as a substantial cultural shift which may lead to the emergence of a new participatory culture which empowers the user.


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