You have reached your destination. Welcome to The Future

Throughout my previous blog posts, I have referred to the impact new media has had on the magazine publishing industry. Online collaborative environments have enabled people with internet access to create, upload, and share their digitally published magazines with the world. The magazine, as a product, has increasingly evolved in recent times, with the capabilities of collaborative and digital environments that have the benefits of quick lead and production times, instant circulation and readership, and measurable readership statistics.

Bruns (2008) refers to an example, featured on trendwatching.com, of US-based online innovative design community eMachineshop.com, which “lets ordinary consumers download free, easy-to-use software which they can use to design objects like car parts, door knobs, in metal or plastic. They can then get a quote, order the product online and eMachineshop will forward the design to a ‘real world’ machine shop for manufacturing.”

Examples of websites that are home to such innovative design communities include Issu and Magcloud. With Magcloud, users simply upload their magazines that they have designed and then Magcloud organise the printing, mailing, subscription management, and other features. Members can even generate financial profits from people who come across their magazine online and wish to purchase a hard copy and have it mailed to them. It’s so easy!

This DIY culture is becoming more and more popular amongst online environments. Examples of some websites that involve DIY produsage and design concepts include Moments to Remember, where customers can design their own flower bouquets, Curbly, where design ideas are shared and expert advice is given, and Instructables, where seemingly endless and innovative DIY ideas are featured. Instructables is a “web-based documentation platform where passionate people share what they do and how they do it, and learn from and collaborate with others” (Instructables, 2009)

Bringing my focus back to user-based magazine produsage, Issuu is another online example of custom magazine design and publication. “Issuu turns your documents into beautiful online publications. Publish to an audience of millions and get your message across to anyone, anywhere. It only takes a minute and it’s free” (Issuu, 2009). Online platforms like these allow for people to create what they want to see in a magazine, present their content on a global scale, without costing the earth.

Bruns (2008) discusses the production of consumer markets, which is “based on the open participation of a wide range of contributors, and the communal evaluation of goods for sale as well as the sellers offering them.” This is the same for many of the DIY concepts and products featured on the websites I have mentioned above, including online magazine publishing platforms. User’s have the ability to comment on people’s concepts, make suggestions as to why it may be good or bad, and, therefore, create communal evaluation, which will eventually assist the designer in improving their idea and developing attractive concepts in the future.

This DIY culture and design is a positive step for individuals, organisations (such as Moments to Remember), and the digital magazine publishing industry. This is the future and we’ve finally landed.

References:

Bruns, A. 2008. Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

May 28, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Bridging the Pro-Am Divide

The question that is widely circulating and generating much debate in its tracks is that of whether traditional professionals, contributors, keepers, and organisers of information (such as librarians) have a part in today’s online world of produsage and community-based collaborative content creation. Bruns (2008, 199) explores the question at hand in more depth as:

Whether even bona fide experts in a field will need to once again earn their status in the internal heterarchy of contributions, like all other members of the produsage site, or whether their existing status in the external hierarchy of traditional knowledge systems and disciplines should be translated into and respected by participants in the produsage project as well as, of course, how this translation process may be orchestrated in practice.

The fact is that anyone can participate. By ‘anyone’ I mean both professional and amateur contributors. As these two categories have apparently merged, the term ‘Pro-Am’ or in full ‘Professional-Amateur’, has been coined. Bruns (2008, 203) identifies that there are no easy answers to Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger’s questions of “who is an expert, and on what topics, and what defines and documents such expertise.”

Bruns goes on to (2008, 216) confirm that “tradtional experts do have a role to play in addition to and in combination with the wider communities of contributors which have sprung up to complement them, as do social processes of content, information, and knowledge creation”.

In this blog, I would like to draw attention to the impact of the Pro-Am concept in relation to the magazine publishing industry. With the digitalization of the print media industry, we have seen a dramatic shift in the way magazine content is being produced, published, and distributed. This shift has encouraged online magazine publications, such as those emerging from Issu and MagCloud. So what does this mean for traditional magazine publishing industry professionals and contributors?

  • Pro-Am publications mean increased competition for not only industry publications but for emerging individuals.
  • A shift in the definition of “industry leader” – anyone can distribute and measure their success.
  • Experts and industry professionals are now on the same playing field as amateur contributors on a global scale. We can see a shift in the requirement for expert credentials and an increase in the interest and popularity of online self-publishing tools.

Bruns (2008, 218) states that Wikipedia is “predominantly led by amateurs and Pro-Ams without a strong direct involvement of the recognized, traditional knowledge institutions in their fields.” In the interest of my own personal career aspirations, all of this makes me wonder where I will fit into the picture after graduating with qualifications that will allow me to enter into the magazine publishing industry. If I want to contribute something on Wikipedia for example, will I fit into the ‘amateur’ category, seeing as I will only have university credentials and limited professional industry experience? Or, will what I have to say be considered as professional content that is engaging and valuable? If I decided to publish my own magazine online, will this be considered equally acceptable, valuable, and professional as magazines published by organisations such as ACP Magazines? And who gets to decide this?

It is clear that the Pro-Am divide raises many issues. However, I believe this will continue to lead us further into acceptance of quality amateur content, as well as recognizing pathways for effective integration and acceptance of both professional and amateur content within collaborative environments, such as Wikipedia.

References:

Bruns, A. 2008. Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

May 21, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Bye-bye Britannica

Defined by Axel Bruns, in his book ‘Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond’ (2008, 102), as the first major institution of the emerging knowledge space, is “the collaboratively created and edited online encyclopedia Wikipedia”.  In this online space, anyone with access to the internet can contribute. Whether you are a professional and highly experienced or trained academic or a secondary school student, Wikipedia allows for people of all ages and cultural and social backgrounds to contribute. Not only can users create entries, but edits can be made to previous works by other users. Editing an existing ‘Wiki’ entry must be intended to improve its quality and/or accuracy. According to Wikipedia (2009) itself, its “intent is to have articles that cover existing knowledge, not create new knowledge (original research)”. Bruns (2008, 104) describes this process as “chronicling of history as it happens” and that a ‘Neutral Point of View’ (NPOV) (Bruns, 113) is expected to be carried across all entries.

This online phenomenon of content that is continuously improving, informative, and collaboratively driven has opened a world of possibilities. This concept is accompanied by both positive and negative issues and viewpoints, which I will focus on throughout this blog. Wikipedia’s greatest strengths, weaknesses, and differences all arise because it is open to anyone, it has a large contributor base, and its articles are written by consensus, according to editorial guidelines and policies (Wikipedia, 2009).

Boasting a reputation as one of the largest reference websites, Wikipedia (2009) features over 75,000 active contributors who are working on more than 10,000,000 articles in upwards of 260 languages. As of today, there are 2,886,805 articles written in English alone. Considering these outstanding figures, this brings me to Wikipedia being “successful in terms of its userbase and the breadth of its coverage [allowing for] an open access environment and open participation by users” Bruns (2008, 102).

In this abundant online environment of interaction, such as global userbase allows for extensive and increasing levels of collaboration. Wikipedia is not bound by professionalism but by contribution of the facts and constant improvement and adjustment. This allows for ongoing and often extensive collaborative projects where users engage in the construction of articles which can lead to their placement in ad hoc ‘heterarchies’ (think online hierarchies) of users. Bruns (2008, 108) explains that:

Those users most active in editing content and engaging with the edits of others necessarily rise to greater visibility in their communities, and have the potential to become community leaders (but also community outcasts, if their participation is seen to be consistently in conflict with the contributions of the majority of other participants).

This form of power seeking should be applauded as it presents a form of reward for collaborative participation and contribution within the large-scale Wikipedia community. This allows users to gain acknowledgement for their efforts and dedication to projects. Bruns (2008, 105) explains that Wikipedia is “boosting sustainability of collaborative projects, allowing for wider involvement.”

Many entries contain sources and references that link to other sites on the web, enhancing research paths for many users. Unlike traditional paper reference sources, such as Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia is “continually updated, with the creation or updating of articles on topical events within seconds, minutes, or hours, rather than months or years for printed encyclopedias” (Wikipedia, 2009). The shared knowledge-base and rapid turnover of information allows for greater projection and communication of topical information, as well as increased activity leading to higher levels of content production and circulation.

According to Wikipedia (2009), newer articles more frequently contain significant misinformation, unencyclopedic content, or vandalism. Users need to be aware of this to obtain valid information and avoid misinformation that has been recently added and not yet removed (Wikipedia, 2009).It is a question we’ve all heard before that is constantly asked and repeated in society: “Anyone from anywhere can write anything, so how can I distinguish true and reliable sources?” I believe it is important to discuss Wikipedia’s presentation of the truth and barriers this creates for users and their content. With time comes refinement, which basically means that Wiki articles that have been present for longer are usually more thorough and neutrally presented. As Acknowledged by Bruns (2008, 106), “traditional encyclopedia’s place trust in particular accredited experts and allow no openings for participation of the wider public”, thereby only presenting specific professional, expert, and, in term, minority viewpoints.

According to the University of Georgia Libraries (2007), who communicate both the limitations and advantages of using Wikipedia to their students, “the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, has (…) stressed that Wikipedia may not be suitable for academic uses. [He stated that] “he wants to get the message out to college students that they shouldn’t use it for class projects or serious research” (from The Chronicle of Higher Education). Because of problems associated with the reliability of content featured on Wikipedia, many education institutions will not allow students to refer to Wikipedia as a form of academic reference. However, this should not stop students from engaging in Wikipedia content, as many associated references featured in Wiki articles are reliable and professional sources of information. I believe this should and will be better communicated and understood over time, as more groups and education institutions adapt to digital and online information platforms and environments. Although it is important to be aware of problems and limitations that may arise within Wikipedia, these points should not outweigh its advantages.

References:

Bruns, A. 2008. Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

University of Georgia Libraries. 2009. Wikipedia: Limitations and Advantages of Wikipedia. http://www.libs.uga.edu/ref/digitalinfolit/wikipedia.html (accessed May 14, 2009).

Wikipedia. 2009. About Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About (accessed May 14, 2009).

May 14, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

It seems there’s a hero in all of us…

With contrasting views and opinions regarding the sourcing, credibility, and publication of news and information in today’s digitally enhanced world of online media, we are experiencing a shift in the definition of the role of ‘journalism’, and witnessing an increasing trend in the participation of ‘citizen journalism’.

In Terry Flew’s book ‘New Media: An introduction’, (Flew 2008, p144) a definition of participatory citizen journalism from Bowman and Willis (2003:9) is identified as ‘the act of a citizen, or group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analysing and disseminating news and information’.

To me, journalism is a profession that traditionally involved the professional collection of valuable information from reliable sources to present to audiences in order to generate readership and knowledge about particular areas of interest and demand to those audiences.

‘Citizens’ are defined by Campbell (2000: 693), again brought to my attention by Flew (2008), as ‘experts in their own lives and aspirations [who] treat citizens as political actors who create public knowledge by deliberating together and create new forms of story-telling and reporting to enrich information’.

Public journalism, or civic journalism, is significant in enabling us to understand the movement that has assisted the emergence of citizen journalism. A key principle highlighting ‘public journalism’, is that of Rosen (2000) identified by Flew (2008), as ‘seeing people as citizens rather than as spectators, readers, viewers, listeners, or an undifferentiated mass’.

“What constitutes “news”?  News can be seen as the latest and updated information presented to a public. It can be about anything, anywhere, at any time. However, what differentiates traditional journalism and news from that of today is that it can be reported and published by anyone. And this is where we will continue to see the popularity of citizen journalism. However, is this harmful to our society in terms of the consumption and circulation of what could possibly be incorrect or misleading information? Perhaps. But we’re all aware of the Wikipedia predicament and I think society is grasping an understanding of the fact that there are so many different sources of information available and that they need to choose their sources wisely. I also believe citizen journalism greatly contributes to the enrichment of online content and newsworthy information.

We have indeed observed a dramatic shift in traditional media and news formats. With the emergence of new digital media platforms, we are witnessing, and will continue to witness for some time, news and media publications appearing in these online formats becoming increasingly popular and in-demand by consumers and audiences. This has allowed for the rise of citizen journalism in this demanding world of continuous and instantaneous information.

The end of ‘journalists as heroes’ – there’s a hero in all of us – A profession that was once seen as an exclusive connection to highly valuable sources of information, journalists were once mainly considered by many as heroes in a sought-after field of occupation. However, it appears that there is in fact a hero in all of us. Citizen journalism is allowing for those without proper qualifications to take on the title and share their information with mass audiences in forms that some may or may not have previously considered as amateur or basic, such as online blogs. The truth is, with the evolution of and increasing participation in online digital publishing, including that of major traditional and well-renown media publications, these forms are being rapidly adopted and accepted in society as valuable sources of information. A main area in question, especially to journalism and media and communication experts, is the credibility of such information.

Many questions have been asked about the relevancy of professional journalism in today’s society. What does all of this hype mean for traditional professional journalists? Will they have a place in society’s future? Will they receive the same satisfaction and appreciation from their career? I think that now we should be asking questions such as “Will professional journalists utilise new media forms and indulge themselves in the world of citizen journalism, utilising their skills to receive popularity based on their knowledge and understanding of journalism?”

It seems that time will tell…

References:

Flew, T. 2008. New Media: an Introduction. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford.

May 7, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Produsage – its place in the Marketing and Communications world

Participation in this digitally enhanced world of online marketing, advertising, and consumption, where content and branding is instantaneously influenced and perceived by masses of internet users, the role of the consumer has evolved. This role now means a lot more than simply receiving and consuming an end-product or brand and can now be perceived as a vital element able to shape and determine the creation and success of a brand or organisation. New Media Professional and Researcher Dr. Axel Bruns (2008) explains that we are experiencing a decline of the traditional value chain, as the consumer is now capable of producing and, therefore, has coined the new title of ‘produser’. Produsage can be defined as ‘the collaborative and continuous building and extending of existing content in pursuit of further improvement’ (Produsage.org. 2009).

What does this mean for Marketing Communication Professionals though? New media technologies are now incontestable and interwoven facets of our lives and, with the emergence of Gen C (ages 13-27), identified by Integrated Marketing Communications professional Dr. Edwina Luck (2008) as the “Click & Go” generation, we are seeing an increase in online participatory culture. Society has experienced a shift in the mediums being used to engage with content exposed to target audiences by marketing and advertising firms. For example, convergence has played a large part in the decline of traditional media forms, such as the print media industry. However, with organisation utilising new technologies and noticing changes in consumer desire and behaviour, success can be seen in areas like the digital magazine publishing industry which provides an interactive platform for engagement, enables content to be instantaneously and frequently updated and distributed, as well as promotes user-generated content, wide circulation, and feedback.

According to Flew (2008), user-generated content refers specifically to the ways in which users as both remediators and direct producers of new media content engage in new forms of large-scale participation in digital media spaces. For marketing and communications professionals, this provides two-way communication, allowing the consumer/customer to act as a produser. As new media platforms and technologies are utilised to more directly communicate valuable messages to the marketer, as opposed to more traditional forms of marketing, such as word-of-mouth, information and content can ultimately be used to enhanced marketing and message strategy and assist in the better understanding of target markets and consumers. Marketing Communications is now able to be more about responsiveness in open digital environments.

Communication is vital in marketing and, therefore, produsage should be seen as a key tool in measuring the success of products, brands, and organisations. For example, viral marketing strategies featured on YouTube, such as videos uploaded by a company regarding a brand or product, allows for instant distribution, wide circulation, and also contributes to word-of-mouth marketing, whilst having the capability to measure how many views the video has had over time, as well as visible, and perhaps insightful, comments from viewers around the world. With the capabilities of the internet and new technologies, online tools used to create, distribute, capture, and measure interactivity and user-generated content will continue to enhance and encourage the act of produsage in an increasingly fast-paced and technologically-evolving society.

References:

Bruns, A. 2008. Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

Flew, T. 2008. New Media: an Introduction. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford.

Luck, E. 2009. AMB202 Integrated Marketing Communications: Week 8 lecture notes. http://blackboard.qut.edu.au/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab=courses&url=/bin/common/course.pl?course_id=_40353_1 (accessed April 30, 2009).

Produsage.org. 2009. From Production to Produsage: Research into User-Led Content Creation. A working definition. http://produsage.org/produsage (accessed April 30, 2009).

April 30, 2009. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Welcome to my KCB201 blog

Hi, and welcome to my KCB201 blog. Here you will find weekly blog entries relating to ‘New Media: Information & Knowledge’ (a QUT unit) content over a period of 5 consecutive weeks.

This content will cover the following unit themes:

  • From Production to Produsage
  • Citizen Journalism and Location-based Media
  • Wikipedia and Consensus
  • Experts and Amateurs
  • DIY Culture & Design

I hope my blog will encourage discussion and I welcome your comments.

April 29, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.