Creative Critical Essay Draft
[ I intend to create a complete website using html code to present my essay ]
Digitisation has changed how we imagine audiences. Sue Turnbull (2010) claims “media audiences don’t actually exist”, meaning digitalisation has allowed audiences to interact with media in a variety of different ways to the point that media audiences no longer exist in the strict sense that an audience is purely a spectator or consumer of content. Following the introduction of the Web 2.0, Turnbull shows how audiences are imagined as producers of media, citing how fans can post thoughts and opinions about a television program on online forums for example and may even be compelled to upload their own storyline ideas, sketches and critiques. Professor Axel Bruns (2008) coined the term ‘produser’ which refers to the role of the media audience member in the modern world of networked media – as both a consumer and producer of the same media text. The theory is based on a principle of inclusivity and all participants must have an equal ability to make a worthy contribution to a project. These notions conceptualise Adrian Miles’ statement regarding the participation component of network literacy.
“…networked literacies are marked by your participation as a peer in these flows and networks – you contribute to them in turn can share what others provide”. (Miles 2007)
Websites such as Wikipedia and YouTube have taken advantage of the affordances of web 2.0 to maximise the benefits of such ‘produsage’. By allowing any user, regardless of their position in the social hierarchy, to freely create and edit content through these online platforms, a freedom model based on participation and collaboration is established where the media user becomes an integral component of content creation and in turn, profits from the content others provide. This theory and the evidence of its prominence in the modern day, demonstrates the importance of such notions in practice for how I may influence future media as a media professional. In order to maximise my influence on the media industry, I have to: harness the full potential of ‘produsage’; evaluate the potential for problems to occur; and consider the ways in which to further the success of the concept in the contemporary media industry.
To harness the full potential of the ‘produsage’ theory and therefore maximise my success in the media industry, I must create media systems that celebrate a democratic model of content sharing. Bruns (2010) claims that “the more participants are able to examine, evaluate, and add to the contributions of their predecessors, the more likely an outcome of strong and increasing quality will be”. Meaning creating media with complete democratic capabilities harnesses the ‘produsage’ theory.
[ A video made by myself will be embedded here to visually present participation and collaboration creatively using time lapse videography ]
However, a truly open structure in any community is an irrational concept. Professor Joseph Reagle (2010) demonstrates that “even a theoretically perfect openness can lead to behaviour and informal structures that are less than inclusive”. Moreover, Clay Shirky (2006) contends “successful open systems create the very conditions that require and threaten openness”. There must be a balance between openness and closed-ness for such a medium to be successful. Clearly, as a media professional, I have to employ certain boundaries within media projects, to create a balance between the democratic capabilities of a project and the need for administrative governance. This balance enables the true capabilities of ‘produsage’ to shine.
[ All theories that are mentioned will be linked to appropriate supporting documentation]
In addition to maximising the benefits of ‘produsage’, in order to prepare myself for the contemporary media industry, potential complications of such collaboration have to be considered. Although ‘produsage’ maximises the affordances of web 2.0 in order to collect the creativity of a multitude of people, a ‘produser’ can also provide valuable marketing information to large corporations free of charge and somewhat unknowingly. This creates an opportunity for corporations to profit from selling this information to advertising clients. Through such notions, the issue of audience commodification is instigated, that is making unsalable things becoming salable. This creates a fundamental shift in the way audiences are imagined in our contemporary consumerist society, where a ‘produsage’ project is used to manipulate a user and their leisure time, for commercial profit. Large corporations should not be allowed to control public behaviour and buying patterns. Fuchs (2012) believes this act of data collection is a violation of users’ privacy. It is exploitive when users’ information increases capital for the corporation which in turn encourages ‘…capitalist production and advertising’ (Fuchs 2012). Fuchs (2012) believes that in capitalist societies, consumers and workers need protection from corporate surveillance and the misuse of their data, and that the actions of large corporations need to be made transparent. However, interestingly, Fuchs (2012) points out that our current liberalist approach to privacy and surveillance in online ‘produsage’ systems mirrors the privacy and surveillance in the political economy. That is, powerful entities and corporations are able to withhold information regarding their wealth, thereby hiding income gaps prevalent in capitalism.
[ An image of mine will be embedded here to present an intriguing visual of corporate surveillance ]
Furthermore, Smythe (2010) indicates that audience commodification is not limited to the confines of contemporary web 2.0 ‘produsage’ platforms, but appears to be embedded in media technologies throughout history, such as through television and radio. This is reinforced by Fuchs’ notions highlighting our practice of a liberalist approach to privacy both on the internet and in society. To avoid media audiences being exploited as commodities, broad societal changes need to take place to move our understanding from the current liberal conception of privacy, potentially toward a more socialist approach. Furthermore, differentiation in privacy and surveillance needs to become a part of the public debate of larger societal problems, otherwise large corporations will profit from the commodification of media audiences through ‘produsage’ projects, throughout my experience as a media professional.
In an effort to not limit my success in the media industry to the preconceived limits of ‘produsage’, I intend to expand beyond current conceptions of ‘produsage’ in order to conceptualise the ability to incorporate the entirety of human creativity and ideas within a media system. In order to maximise the reach of ‘produsage’; providing alternate perspectives to others and in turn profiting through sharing, we must take into consideration the majority of the world’s population lack of internet access, which clearly restricts ‘produsage’ projects collaboration of human knowledge to the confines of humans with internet access. Therefore as Ludlow and Wallace (2010) suggest, larger societal changes have to be considered in the effort to provide every human with internet access and to educate the world’s population in order to provide new media systems with the potential to become complete ‘produsage’ projects, permitting thorough democratic contribution to the content, which truly enables the collaboration of all human creativity to be collated through ‘produsage’.
[ An audio clip will be embedded here quoting Peter Ludlow ]
My intended influence on the media industry thus stems from notions of human equality and the evident potential of the ‘produsage’ theory alters my notions of my experience in the media industry toward an endeavour to expand beyond the current limitations of web 2.0 ‘produsage’.
Digitisation and the introduction of web 2.0 has changed how audiences interact with media. Contemporary network literacy is strongly associated with notions of content sharing, user participation and collaboration. Axel Bruns’ ‘produsage’ concept clearly resembles such notions of network literacy, as according to Adrian Miles. The possible implications for me as a future professional media maker entail a requirement to: create a balance between openness and closed-ness within any ‘produsage’ structure; promote the consideration to differentiate privacy on the internet so that users are not commodified through ‘produsage’; and finally extend the accessibility of the internet across the globe, enabling the degree of ‘produsage’ within media systems during my career to increase exponentially.
[ I will include a reference list to correctly reference all the theories and literature cited ]