DIY Culture and Design

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May 27, 2009 at 2:23 pm Leave a comment

Folks and Experts

May 21, 2009 at 1:06 pm Leave a comment

Wikipedia

Wikis…are perceived to be one of the key drivers of the wider web 2.0, social software phenomenon” (Bruns 2008, 102). They enable their users to create “…a network of knowledge that is structured ad hoc through multiple interlinkages between individual pieces of information in the knowledge base” (Bruns 2008, 102). According to Bruns (2008, 104), Wikis are inherently designed to accommodate, compile and maintain the core knowledge of the community, through the provision of a central, accessible and easily editable space. From Wikis emerged “the poster child for the collaborative construction of knowledge and truth that the new, interactive Web facilitates: the collaboratively created and edited online encyclopedia Wikipedia” (Richardson in Bruns 2008, 102). Beyond this, it is also an effective example for the use of wiki technology in an open access, open participation context (Bruns 2008, 102).

Developed in the 20th Century during the traditional physical model of production, online encyclopedias established full trust in the contributions of accredited experts and restrained the wider public from participating in the production process. Such encyclopedias that exemplify this model are Britannica, Encarta and Nupedia; Wikipedia’s immediate predecessor project. In comparison to the preceding encyclopedias, Wikipedia has been recognised as “…the most successful online encyclopedia both in terms of its userbase and the breadth of its coverage” (Bruns 2008, 102); as a result of embracing the principles of produsage. Such principles include Open Participation, Communal Evaluation; Fluid Heterarchy, Ad Hoc Meritocracy; Unfinished Artefacts, Continuing Process; and Common Property, Individual Rewards.

Wikipedia has embraced the principle of Open Participation, Communal Evaluation by “…implementing its ‘anyone can edit’ approach. By default, all Wikipedia pages are directly editable by all users, and users are also able to start new topic pages as required…” (Bruns 2008, 107) Wikipedia also adheres to the second principle of Fluid Heterarchy, Ad Hoc Meritocracy; through its proclaimed function as a self – correcting adhocracy. This function supports the claim that “any knowledge that gets posted can and most likely will be revised and corrected by other readers” (Bruns 2008, 108). Furthermore, ad hoc processes of the Wikipedia “…contribute directly to the emergence of its heterarchy; [where] those users most active in editing content and engaging with the edits of others necessarily rise to greater visibility in their communities…” (Bruns 2008, 108) Wikipedia also exhibits the core produsage principle of Unfinished Artefacts, Continuing Process; through its always incomplete, continuing process that relies “…on the continued constructive participation of the Wikipedia community” (Bruns 2008, 110). Conclusively, Wikipedia adheres to the fourth key principle of Common Property, Individual Rewards; by placing the Wikipedia content in communal hands and allowing the efforts of “…Wikipedia’s contributors – called Wikipedians – “…to be freely distributable forever” (Bruns 2008, 112).  

“Both the considerable variations in content quality within the Wikipedia and the continuing lack of clarity about administrative structures within its community of users have generated a significant amount of criticism of the site and its model of content produsage” (Bruns 2008, 113). However, these critiques have now been addressed through the implementation of such policies as ‘Neutral Point of View’ (NPOV) and the Wiki Scanner. NPOV suggests that “…all wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly and without bias all significant views (that have been published by reliable sources)” (Bruns 2008, 113). Furthermore, the Wiki Scanner has been implemented for the purpose of discarding both inappropriate and untrustworthy information that has been published on Wikipedia web pages. This has been achieved by scanning the “…Wikipedia database for unusual contribution patters…and automatically revert[ing] affected pages to their previous state” (Bruns 2008, 115). An example of this occurrence has been provided through the following youtube link [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YvgwoS0vzg].

May 14, 2009 at 6:35 am Leave a comment

Citizen Journalism

As “…a medium for everyone’s voice” (Gillmor in Flew 2008, 144), citizen journalism has emerged as a second – tier to journalism; where the boundaries between producers and consumers have diminished. According to Bowman and Willis (in Flew 2008, 144), citizen journalism may be further defined as the “…act of a citizen, or group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of reporting, analysing and disseminating news and information”. This can be exemplified through the South Korean OhMyNews site, whose slogan asserts that “every citizen is a reporter…” (Flew 2008, 143).  OhMyNews “…accesses only 20 per cent of the content for its online site from its employed staff, with the balance coming from the estimated 50,000 South Koreans who post news stories onto the site” (Flew 2008, 143); which in turn, supports the less hierarchical model of citizen journalism.

With the rise of web 2.0 and the development of web publishing technologies in the form of open source, the feasibility and sustainability of citizen journalism has significantly improved. Such technologies, like that of blogging systems, also provide the tools for “…ensuring and maintaining community cohesion even despite a vastly diverse, distributed group of contributors to citizen journalism communities” (Bruns 2008, 70). An online, open source network that supports the citizen journalism model is the On Line Opinion. This is because On Line Opinion places much emphasis on production rather than the consumption of media texts, along with the creation of DIY media rather than debating the writings of others (Meikle 2002, 87).

“As news and information sources have gone online, as news and information consumers have become more accustomed to directly seeking out the source of information rather than relying on journalists’ digested versions of events” (Bruns 2008, 72), modes of industrial news production have lacked significance. This is because audiences have become active users who…want to directly access the ‘source code’ of the news” (Bruns 2008, 72), in an attempt to avoid the bias information that the gatekeeping process provides. Gatekeeping supports the process of “…correlating news events with the existing knowledge maps of news workers in the industry in order to determine the relevance and importance of stories” (Bruns 2008, 72). Despite the intentions on behalf of journalists and editors, it is what the industry considers to be ‘important’ news to readers, listeners and viewers; that introduces a certain sense of bias (Bruns 2008, 72). In contrast to the deteriorating gatekeeping process, is the formation of gatewatching.  This model upholds the movement towards citizen journalism by providing members of an interest community with the ability to select content that is appealing to them. Gatewatchers then frame this information and submit it to the citizen journalism websites or news blog of their choice.

In a public relations context, citizen journalism can be identified as detrimental to the industry. The profession of public relations is heavily focused upon supporting and promoting an organisation’s significant points of difference, in order to form and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with their target publics. To achieve this, public relations practitioners produce certain forms of collateral, particularly media releases, in order to highlight the internal progress of their organisation. Journalists then support these practitioners by accepting the information within the media release and creating a news article regarding the topic. However, as citizen journalism emerges, the role public relations will appear useless to journalists; as they are able to allocate their own sources of information. This approach brings attention to the question, what will happen to public relations once citizen journalism becomes more prominent?

May 7, 2009 at 9:38 am Leave a comment

Produsage

Axel Bruns (2008, 9) defines produsage as a concept that stands in direct contrast to traditional modes of industrial production, where the focus is on “…maximising production efficiency and worker production [as apposed to] customer satisfaction” (Bruns 2008, 10). For this reason, the power structures are slanted in favour of the producer and distributor, rather than the consumer. In comparison, modern society has broken down the boundaries between the consumer and the producer, leaving the consumer to take on the new, hybrid role of produser.  This concept refers to the interweaving of two distinct roles, the user and the producer, to encapsulate both forms of participation. In this instance, “…participants are not simply passive consumers, but active users, with some of them participating more strongly with a focus only on their own personal use, some of them participating more strongly in ways which are inherently constructive and productive of social networks and communal content” (Bruns 2008, 23).

 According to Bruns (2008, 2), produsage is “…one of the many new and emerging concepts which describes the social, technological, and economic environment of user – led content creation.” User – led content creation refers to the gathering of collective intelligence that is formed by both participants and managers, and the placement of this into a space that will ensure it leaves a positive impact. Such collaborative spaces are derived from the emergence of social software, which is regarded as the environment that supports the produsage process; such environments include Wikipedia, Blogs and Youtube (Bruns 2008, 4). Despite the ability of each environment to diminish the power structure and boundaries between producer and consumer, one question that has come to my attention is the extent of each produser’s power. When content, that is deemed inappropriate, is placed within each of these environments, the producer of the social software is able to take the content down. How does this enforce the equal and less hierarchical role of the produser if the user is being overpowered by the producer?

In a public relations context, produsage is most definitely prevalent. Two of the few environments used by public relations practitioners are Twitter and Facebook, where an individual can participate as a user and as a producer, thus enforcing the practice of produsage. These environments are used by public relations agencies for two distinct reasons, to increase their brand identity and to monitor their target publics. Public relations organisations are able to increase their brand identity through a limitless network of clients and useful contacts, both nationally and internationally. However, for the organisation to remain within a professional context, employees are encouraged to separate personal social networking from corporate social networking.  Furthermore, for a public relations organisation to effectively appeal to the needs of each target public, through a public relations campaign, their opinions and characteristics must be monitored. This can be achieved through the discussion forum that is provided on each webpage. To exemplify this use of social networking for the benefit of public relations, the following link has been provided [http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2225318379].

April 30, 2009 at 8:36 am Leave a comment


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