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Produsage in Business

Factors Affecting the Success of Social Machines

The final speaker in this Web Science 2016 session is Clare Hooper, whose interest is in 'social machines' as defined by Tim Berners-Lee: systems were people do the creative work, and machines take care of the administration. Social machines will exist in the context of problems to be solved; they may be created by single stakeholders (as in the case of Galaxy Zoo), while others arise in a more emergent fashion (from online communities).

Behavioural Differences between Teen and Adult Instagram Users

The third speaker in this WebSci 2016 session is Dongwon Lee, whose interest is in user activity patterns on Instagram. The major finding of this study is that teens and adults exhibit different activity patterns, but just as important a contribution here is the methodological contribution to the study of Instagram that this paper makes.

Revisiting Produsage

After the “Compromised Data” symposium in Toronto I’ve made my way over to Europe, where my first stop is a PhD symposium in Copenhagen where I’ve been invited to present an update on my work on produsage. Here, I’ve revisited the fundamental concept of produsage and made the link to my current work on the uses of social media, especially in a journalistic context. Slides and audio below:

Studying the Processes of Media Production

The final speaker in this AoIR 2013 plenary is Gina Neff, who notes that the study of online practices and texts can only provide a limited perspective on resistance to capitalism. The political and economic affordances of the Internet are less open to resisting capitalist models than we might have thought; it tends to subsume resistant practices into online capitalism in the end.

This leads Gina to suggest that the era of the amateur is over. Capitalist dynamics privilege the platform developers, policy makers, proprietors and others over users; the Net is tool for and symbol of the reproduction of this set of power relations. Through it, proto-, pseudo-, and not-quite-yet-professional media makers are subsumed into the system.

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.

Some Publications Updates (Mostly about Twitter)

OK, so to save this blog from turning completely into a conference blog (watch out for the Australia/New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference, starting next week), here’s a round-up of my most recent publications. Most of these build on our Twitter research – and you can find more detailed updates about those projects over at Mapping Online Publics.

I’ve had three co-authored journal articles published over the past few weeks. Of these, the most recent one is in First Monday, and was co-authored with Eugene Liang Yuxiang from the National Cheng Chi University in Taipei, following on from a workshop on Twitter and crisis communication research which took place there last October. In the paper, Eugene and I compare our approaches to tracking disaster-related communication on Twitter – I discuss our work with yourTwapperkeeper and Eugene outlines the infrastructure the Taiwanese team have built. For more, see:

Axel Bruns and Eugene Liang Yuxian. “Tools and Methods for Capturing Twitter Data during Natural Disasters.First Monday 17.4 (2012).

Two other publications are co-authored with my QUT colleague Jean Burgess, and appeared in Journalism Studies and Journalism Practice within two days of each other. The first of these is another methodology article, and outlines how our methods for Twitter research may be used by journalists and journalism researchers; it’s based on the paper we presented at the Future of Journalism conference in Cardiff in September 2011. More details are here:

Understanding Crowdsourcing Processes

The next session at the Berlin Symposium is on crowdsourcing, involving two speakers (there’s also a lot of discussion, which I’m not blogging here.) We begin with Katarina Stanoevska-Slabeva, who begins by introducing the range of related concepts which describe the broad field of crowdsourcing. The Net is diminishing transactional costs for communication, collaboration and coordination; this facilitates collaboration amongst disparate stakeholders and provides more opportunities for individuals to participate. As a result, innovation has been democratised – indeed, users are becoming ever more important as innovators.

Internet-enabled innovation can be used as an umbrella term for these processes; within this field, there are a number of specific formations, however: these include lead user innovation (users taking part in the value creation process on their own account, innovating largely in offline contexts); open innovation (initiated and coordinated by companies and other organisations, both in on- and offline contexts); user innovation communities (enabled and facilitated through Internet platforms and technologies, connecting users and companies); open source communities (as a specific, user-driven form of user innovation communities); and crowdsourcing (similar to user innovation communities spreading across users and companies, and online).

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.


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