what produsage is and why it matters

One of the things we’ll be talking about in my upcoming Building a Culture for Reading in a Digital Age course is, of course, not just reading but the whole digital age itself.

What is the culture of this so-called digital age? What distinguishes it from the era in which most of us grew up?

One of the major markers, I’d argue, is in the participatory capacity of digital media: the ways in which the distinction between producers of media and consumers of media begins to collapse.

We become digital, goes the argument, as we become part of the cycle and networks by which media is produced.

Facets of our identities become embedded in digital interactions and networks and practices.

I began blogging a little over six years ago, just before my elder child was born. I didn’t set out to have the experience create a shift in my identity. I didn’t even set out to become a blogger per se: I didn’t actually read blogs much, at the time.

But something changed for me in the first year after I began blogging. Other people found me, found my writing, and began to leave comments. Their comments generally linked back to blogs of their own. I started to read. Conversations developed. Relationships developed…even friendships. Some of those friendships became fleshed out by face-to-face meetings. Shared histories evolved, preserved in the amber of our blog archives. I became a consumer of the medium, as well as a producer.

Now, most people read blogs before they write one, or look at Instagram or Flickr before they begin sharing photos of their own. But it doesn’t matter which way one goes about it: once you start contributing and sharing and connecting with the work of those who connect with yours, you’re engaging in something called produsage. You’re in the network.

That capacity to join in strikes me as one of the most important distinguishing aspects – or at least potentialities – of digital media. When I watched TV as a kid, it was a one-way medium, a broadcast medium. Sure, I once wrote a fan letter to Mr. Dressup, and got a stamped reply in a CBC envelope, but the relationship between myself and the TV shows I loved was a one-to-many exchange. Mr. Dressup was the one, and I was – as far as the medium enabled our relationship – part of the many, one of a hundred thousand other largely indistinguishable kids who grew up with Casey and Finnegan.

Produsage is not broadcast.

The digital innovation and connectedness that mark social media practices like blogging, Tweeting, photo-sharing, etc, occur in what Axel Bruns (2007) calls a produsage economy, one in which creation and consumption are combined. Also referred to as prosumer exchange (Ritzer & Jurgenson, 2012), this phenomenon is one of the key factors shaping social media’s relational, interdependent environment. In social media, basically, the faceless mass of the broadcast audience becomes a network of individuals.

Produsage relies on networks to collapse notions of production and consumption. The exchange is, on the surface, simple. I write posts, you read them, and vice versa. You make a YouTube video, I click the link on Twitter and leave a comment. You announce your start-up venture, consolidating information I think might be useful, and I share that with 1400 followers. Or twelve. Or 63,000. So long as we are networked via some platform and I happen to be present and catch what you share, the opportunity for that exchange exists.

The size of individuals’ networks matters less than their interconnectedness, their capacity to intersect and create reciprocal audiences…at least until a user’s popularity reaches a scale where one-to-one communications become impossible, timewise. But still, the capacity to interact with large-scale produsers or prosumers on social media platforms is there: if you engage with someone in a sustained manner and offer them value, chances are good that a relationship may develop. Figuring out what individual users consider value and will respond to, and building a profile and network from which to engage, are part of the art of social media.

Produsage matters because it offers people the opportunity to be part of the media they consume. For me personally, it’s been valuable to my development as a writer and as a student: my networks have expanded my horizons and my contacts and my opportunities on both fronts. It’s also been valuable simply to me as a person, in terms of the relationships and friendships I’ve built.

Over the past few years, however, I’ve noticed that the enthusiasm over produsage that marked the early days of social media seems to have been subsumed in the pursuit of ever-bigger audiences. Blogging – and most other social media platforms – have become increasingly monetized, populated with people and corporations interested in reaching broad audiences for business reasons. This ends up prioritizing old broadcast media-style practices, and small produsers with small voices can end up feeling drowned out by the large ones.

I see the promise of produsage being watered-down by this turn of events, and I wonder what it means for those of us interested in having a voice, even in small networks? For the uses of digital media within education? For encouraging kids to become produsers as part of reading in a digital age?

And I wonder, too, what happens to the culture of digital media if – like most media before it, printing press and radio and TV included – it ends up in the hands of a few powerful interests? Produsage offers the possibility of many-to-many communications, but the serious reconfiguration of cultural practices and power relations involved makes navigating the path to becoming a producer as well as a consumer an increasingly challenging one.

What do you think? What do you think are the barriers to produsage? The costs and benefits? Has the capacity to participate and produce as well as consume media had any resonance or impact on your life, personally or professionally?

Where do you see the roadsigns pointing us, as a culture?

58 Comments what produsage is and why it matters

  1. Hannah

    What I think is sad about this whole shift in how we relate to digital media is that people new to blogging feel such pressure? expectation? to become “big” – to get sponsors and ads and products to review / give away.

    One of these newbies followed me on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. She’s started blogging. I commented on a couple of posts; she never replies to comments despite only getting two or three to a post, and I’ve never stumbled across her commenting on anyone else’s. But she’s posted tweet after tweet asking how to increase traffic, how to get products given to her for review, how to get in on the corporate gravy-train that basically means you are giving up your content for pennies to serve advertisers.

    It made me sad, and kind of angry, and some other things that I couldn’t define. I’ve totally lost interest in getting to know her online.

    Some social media is still interactive, and I cling to that. But it is so hard to resist becoming just a consumer. And sadly I think that may be the end result.

    1. bon

      Hannah, me too. the people – especially those sharing personal aspects of themselves or their work – whom i want to connect with are those who are in it TO connect. if you present yourself primarily as a business, i will relate to you as a business, which means unless i happen to LOVE (or need) the stuff you’re putting out i’m likely to treat you like a door-to-door salesman.

  2. Neil

    Unfortunately, as this new medium becomes an important part of old media, the individual voices will become drowned out. But the very nature of the Internet puts much of the power in the hand of the “mob,” so the real power player is not the individual or even the corporation, but whatever large groups deem important. The corporations just rent out the space and let the mobs make all the decisions.

    1. bon

      …i think you hit the nail on the head, Neil, with the idea that the new medium is becoming part of old media. same corporations, moving to reclaim territory pronounced lost in 2006.

      i’m not sure it’s as simple as the mobs actually making the decisions, though. the mobs’ decisions are shaped by what media manages to make appear normal, yes?

  3. Sue Fisher

    In the last 5 years, I’ve noticed a shift. We now talk about the business model changing the notion of produsage. We used to frame similar conversations in terms of class and education–how to widen access to social media. The shift is subtle: it’s a writing against what is becoming an inevitability rather than writing as a means of expansiveness and inclusion.

    As for me, produsage changed my life but in the process it restructured how I see and use time. I’m still not comfortable with that change even if I remain besotted with the benefits.

    1. bon

      i too am a bit besotted with the benefits and wary of appearing as some sort of techno-utopian, Sue, especially as the infringements on my time and practices become ever more evident. interestingly, the closer i get towards needing to commit to write an old-school monograph in thesis or book form, the more difficult i find the tension between my networked practices and ways of thinking (which some might also term my distraction, ahem) and the demands of the traditional written artefact.

  4. mary g


    Bon, the link above is a referral to a post that expresses a lot of why I blog. A couple of the comments are interesting and perceptive as well.
    I admit to selfishly not worrying about the wide world of produsage – as long as I have a few kindred souls reading and a few to read, that satisfies me. Although I love participating in group activities like writing on a common theme and taking photographs as a group on a theme, such activities being totally true to the produsage concept.
    This huddling in my corner may be my generation’s habit, but it may just be me. If a blog I read goes ‘commercial’, I stop reading it, almost always. And scoring big on numbers of readers, ads, etc, is just not something I even notice.
    However, I think the discussion of theory you are doing here is something that will grow as the ‘blog for my audience’ interest drops away. I love the comments you get and wish that mine could be better.

    1. bon

      Mary, your post resonates with a lot of my own feelings about having a platform and what it can and cannot do and is still good for, even in its apparent smallness.

      i think it matters to speak and feel heard. i think there’s a human need satisfied in that, and digital media allows a measure of it that was previously reserved for the very privileged, lucky, or talented. now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything we all publish out here is worth being heard…or that i SHOULD be validated in my thoughts, if my thoughts are, say, hateful, or willfully ignorant, or what have you. so i think there’s danger in produsage, that we get caught in our own circles of validation, perhaps. certainly networked communications create different ways of relating and communicating: look at the difference between mass media newssite comments and blog comments! totally different game…and i’ll take the more civilized network version anyday but while recognizing that it’s on me to expand my circles and horizons.

      i’ve rambled myself off track. i don’t think i can blame produsage for that. :)

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  6. Joel A.

    Since the invention of the Internet many facets of society have been recreated online. Who you are online dictates who you follow, and what you tweet for example much like who you are in life can dictate the words you speak and the friends you have. Advertising can literally reach billions in some of the social media outlets that exist. there are dreamers, doers, movers, and shakers. There are pirates and criminals (hackers) and there are great humans leaving their mark in cyber space in countless ways. I like the analogy that a computer without the Internet is like a car without a key. Look forward to meeting you tomorow in ED 673.


    1. bon

      interested in your points & ideas about recreation of society online, Joel.

      i’m not inclined to disagree, but i’d disrupt the idea that it’s a simple equation (if that’s what you’re suggesting)…how do you think you become who you are online? looking forward to discussing and exploring this over the next week. :)

  7. Jon

    Producing my own content matters to me because it’s an opportunity for what matters to me to materialize. If there were no Internet, I’d stick it in a drawer like Emily Dickinson. But there is an Internet, so now what matters to me finds itself in the situation of potentially mattering to other people. When it does, then “I” begin to matter to those people, sometimes to the extent of actually materializing for them in a concrete way and, less often, even kissing them.

    And vice versa.

    Sometimes I look at statcounter’s map and I’m astounded by my work being digitally realized globally. I don’t have ads. I don’t make money. But there’s something in the production and reception of Internet content that makes me and my material feel “realer”, as if mere attention transforms my ghostly digital identity into something more palpable. The constructed digital identity materializes and is maintained by the attention and comments of the readers. This could easily mean that I’m an attention whore or it might speak to how things come to presence in attention. What matters to me materializes in attention first, and then the work.

    It’s a wonderful feeling. Not as good as kissing.

    1. bon

      similar, though.

      i’m not even kidding.

      the materialization concept: YES. maybe that’s the language i’ve been missing to try to explain what it is that happens when a digital identity comes into being: it’s the facets of identity that you value being materialized and shared, and then – if you’re lucky, if there’s a network you stumble on or cultivate or hack into somehow – being received and shared and amplified, by coming to presence in attention.

      this dissertation is gonna take me a hundred years. thanks for helping.

  8. Mary Chayko (@MaryChayko)

    Hi Bonnie. You echoed my own thoughts (but stated them much better than I would have) when you said, in your response to the other Mary (G) above, “I think it matters to speak and feel heard. I think there’s a human need satisfied in that, and digital media allows” that. To be sure, new, digital media is becoming an increasingly quantified, monetized sphere. But the human need to connect remains.

    If social media ends up in the hands of a few all-powerful entities, I will be heartbroken, but I will remember that even thoroughly commodified old-school media like radio, TV, books, print magazines and newspapers have provided (and continue to provide) pathways and backchannels to connectedness, resistance, and personal and interpersonal agency within powerful structures. New media have lent a huge assist in these efforts, as we know. But just as we created those technologies, we can (and hopefully will always) create new ways to connect with one another, inspire one another, and teach one another.

    Throughout time, human beings have historically evidenced tremendous ingenuity in innovating ways to join together to shape their social worlds. I have to hope that this is a trait that will stubbornly remain, even as the technological landscape inevitably evolves.

  9. Joel A.

    who you are online does speak, at least to some degree, to your character as a person in real life.  I think we’d agree on this.   Do you think maybe it would be a little more simple of an equation if everyone was the same  person in real life as they were online??  
      I’ve learned some things about you over the last few weeks.  What you’re working on, your history, and your experiences for example.  All of them because of the internet.  I know they are a reflection of you as a person. They are genuine and real. I think (at least at this point) you are a  similar person online that you are in real life. You probably think somewhat the same about  me based on our interactions? 
       the opposite side of the coin involves people using the Internet to escape from reality (become someone they aren’t) or form their own realities virtualy using the Internet. As we both know there are countless negative examples of this type of Internet use….

    Look forward to discussing/exploring as well :)
    See you tomorrow

    1. bon

      it will be interesting to find out if the face-to-face “teacher me” ends up fitting the picture you’ve compiled from Twitter & the blog & Moodle, Joel…i kind of hope it does. in part because in some ways i think my better selves sometimes shine through in writing – like i said in my response to Jon, above, the digital has allowed me to materialize the aspects of myself that i value. my terrible posture doesn’t show up online…and my day-to-day interactions don’t always give me the opportunity to show the people i talk to how much more fluently i write. ;)

      at the same time, i totally agree with you: my experience meeting people i’ve “met” online through blogging and twitter has been really positive and for the most part there’s a huge match-up, for sure. but the more facets of someone’s online life you know, the more true that’s likely to be. but then, i suppose that’s true with any facets of identity.

      the idea that radical transparency (or total fit between online & off) should be expected of everybody, though, is a position of privilege. one of the best challenges to G+’s insistence last summer that users have one single, verifiable identity came from the LGBTQ community, who noted that social realities force many gay and queer folks to still live in the closet, professionally, and collapsing their many-faceted networks and identities into one could actually pose huge risk. see the end of this article: it’s pretty good. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/21/digital-era-society-social-media

  10. Osvaldo

    Hi Bonnie
    I read your post with great interest. Let me expose two ideas:
    1. On Producers and consumers
    The post in your blog seems to imply that in the new digital culture practically all digital users are in some way consumers and producers. And this not true. Only a few have the conditions and interest of being producers. Not everyone is good at writing interesting blogs nor produce appealing videos.
    The great majority are consumers.
    What has happened is that the “world has become flat” (Thomas Friedman) and that the numbers of those with whom you interact to produce have reached a different scale. The nonexistence of geographical barriers and the new associated cultures and ideas makes this interaction incredibly different. But this happens in the realm of your fellow producers.
    Most probably Bonnie Stuart in college wrote in some literary or political magazine and connected to other producers in café discussions within the campus. That was then your small realm and fellow producers. Finally your production would be read by the rest of students (the consumers).
    Another example that comes to mind relates to connectivist MOOCs that are supposed to be “the place” for networking, sharing, producing and consuming.
    But, as we have evidenced in some weeks of Change11, there were less than 2% of active participants (producers) of the 2435 registered. Where were the other 2376 (98%)? Only 35 active participants and a facilitator were producing and 2400 consuming (lurkers).
    2. “Produsage is not broadcast”
    This is only true in small scale networks (those with a small number of nodes). Once you surpass a certain number the many to many interactions eventually gives away to the one to many.
    You mentioned in your post your interest (many years back) in a TV program and pointed it as an example of a one-way mediun, a broadcast medium.

    But exactly the same happens today if you write a comment to a post in the blog of one of the most popular experts in connectivism. You might get a response, but not different from the “stamped reply in a CBC envelope”, in this case saying “thanks for your comment”.
    Finally, if the “blogger” becomes a “star” and commercial interests appear the situation becomes even more extreme.

    Please don’t reply “thanks for your comment” (joke!).

    1. bon

      …thanks for your comment! ha. kidding.

      you’re right, Osvaldo, that not all digital users are produsers in the sense of creating full-length texts (written or video) for the consumption of their networks. but as Thompson & Cupples (2008) have argued, even text messaging is a form of digital sociality and the “small stories” (Georgakopalou, 2006) and narratives that constitute social media participation are also a form of content creation. there are people who have no blog or YouTube account but a significant Twitter network, just because they are funny or engaging or good at “curating” links that others find valuable.

      in truth, i wasn’t any kind of writer in college. between junior high (early 80s) and about 2004, i hadn’t written anything except a journal and a few (bad) poems. the digital capacity to throw my hat in the ring was huge for me. and that’s the sense in which i mean that produsage is not broadcast: you’re right, most people consume more than they contribute, even if they do post stuff to FB or Twitter…but within a broadcast model they have no capacity to contribute. within a produsage model it doesn’t have to be 50/50. or even 80/20. but it has to be a choice, IMO. :)

    2. Rochelle

      Hi Olsvado!

      I am only beginning to wet my feet with social media. That being said, I feel I may continue to be a heavy consumer, and less of a producer simply because I’m not an expert in many areas and wonder about the value of my contributions in those areas. Any thoughts?

  11. Mike B

    I think this is a very interesting topic Bonnie. While I have not networked on the internet to the extent that you have, I do know that the internet has been seen as a forum for the average joe.
    I recall a few months ago when the Kony 2012 video surfaced. A lot of the hype stemmed from the fact that the producers of the video encouraged “average” people to make their voices heard in order to make international policy heard.
    While Kony 2012 fizzled out after a while, it was interesting to see the enthusiasm it could generate. And if you’re a man of wealth and taste, it would seem frightening that the faceless masses could potentially rise up in some form using digital media.
    If I were a wealthy, diabolically evil businessman or politician, I would be actively seeking a means of controlling the internet. Sadly, I’m not wealthy.

    1. bon

      …wait. only diabolically evil? ;)

      Kony’s a great example of both the power and the flash-in-the-pan nature of a great deal of participatory media…in truth, the less time a person puts into their contribution the less sustained their engagement with a cause tends to be. hence, clicking “like” on FB tends to predict a far more minimal connection to the item being supported than actually writing or creating a video in favour of that cause.

      but yes, in terms of numbers, it still is a way for an “average” voice to make a small difference and an impact…

    2. Rosa

      Yes you are right about Kony 2012 and other catastrophic events like 9/11. Events like that are what makes social media so interesting. Even though the world is geographically hugh and it takes human being around a week to travel around it (I am guessing). The power of social media is so strong that it is within few hours that it can spread message to the entire world.

  12. Michelle D

    I am a pretty adept consumer of media, I think. I read articles/blogs, I browse pictures/videos, I download music/apps, I stream videos, I lurk around Facebook. But I don’t often participate… So why? Am I afraid of not being heard, not being noticed? Maybe I’m afraid of being noticed? What is my hang-up?

    Over the past school year, my ten-year-old “published” her first work online. It was a fairy tale which she had written and illustrated. Her teacher created for the class a closed network within which they each published their work and exchanged comments/feedback with the other writers in the class. Never before have I seen my daughter so engaged as both as reader and writer (or consumer/producer). The sense of responsibility and accomplishment that she took from having her work noticed and affirmed by an audience was something that had been missing from her educational experience (to this point… in grade 4!). From her experience, I have learned that participating online can be a very enriching experience where ideas are shared and evolve. So I am thinking I need to get over myself. If she can do it, I can do it…

    1. bon

      i think leaping in to participate when we’ve been spent most of our lives in a school system designed to encourage people to raise their hand and wait to be called on and affirmed can be really, genuinely challenging, Michelle. so not so much a hang-up, perhaps, as a fact of being conditioned to a particular type of practice. schools can and do bring in technologies, but bringing in networked participation will take far longer and be far harder.

      that said, i’m glad to hear your daughter’s experience was so positive, with writing for an audience outside the teacher…i’m a big believer in that kind of activity but i’m always relieved to hear it’s gone well, too. :)

  13. Mark G

    I think that it is great that you were able to connect with so many people through your blog. It is very unfortunate that blogging and other forms of social media are becoming monetized. Hopefully this trend will change and people will once again feel that their voices are being heard. I am excited to begin exploring social media forms such as twitter and blogging. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to connect with others like you were through your blog.

    1. bon

      i was lucky, Mark, in the sense that i started my blog early enough that there were many produsers still circulating whose primary purpose and goal was simply connection. i actually think they’re still out there, but they are harder to find as the platforms (like Twitter did today, recommending a bunch of celebrities to our new users) tend to facilitate the growth of what are already the biggest nodes in the network.

      this is called the network power law, meaning that large nodes attract more attention than small ones, and that earlier-established nodes have advantages. which doesn’t mean you can’t have an experience similar to my own, but you will likely have to work for it harder and more strategically, rather than just happening upon it by accident, as i did. that said, you’ll have more experienced users to help guide and direct your path, which is something i didn’t. so…any time is a good time to start. :)

      1. Susan Conohan ED 673

        After reading this particular blog and others’ comments regarding produsage and prosumers, I can say that, like the majority, I am a consumer- I have always viewed the internet for what it appeared to have been first intended,as medium for consumers. As an educator, then, I have been a role model of that for my students; and until I read my first blog, I sincerely didn’t believe that there was such value of “sharing or saying” on a world wide platform. My traditionalist perspective remained strong in regards to face to face “rich” discussions. I had this position that only “bad” consequences could come from putting yourself out there. I am happy to see that there is another perspective )s)I have always encouraged my students to “publish” there work, yet the audience was restricted to other students, staff, etc. and certainly lacked responses and feedback. As others have said there are human needs (basic) at play and why not expand your audience, engage a broader group… there are always going to be those whose hidden agendas are to capitalize on the “free” space; and I would like to think that those who are authentic users will pick up the clues and find those who are like-minded.

  14. Rochelle

    Up until now, I would not have considered myself as “produser.” Sure I have been involved in digital media, but only as a consumer and never as a producer. At best, I am simply beginning to dabble in the produsage scene as I work my way through the Ed673 course and determine what relationship I want to have with our digital culture.

    Perhaps one of the most obvious barriers to produsage is one that I have faced myself. I have prided myself on not being “sucked into” into the social media craze, and have built an identity on being a non-user. And I know there are others like me, those who are so proud of being able to say that they are different that they completely block themselves off from actively participating (we all have to consume given this day and age, but really have no obligation to produce), even though they may be curious (yes I’ll admit it – sometimes I’d like to be able to creep on Facebook).

    Today I played around with Twitter and began to interact with a few colleagues. While I had always resisted Twitter, one thing you mentioned today was basically that you wanted us to play around with different platforms so that we could gather enough information to make an informed decision on whether we wanted to use it or not. This made me realize that I really should have some evidence as to why I have chosen not to use a given platform before ruling it out completely, and this is impossible for me to do without actually trying things on. So…ready or not, here I come. Who knows, I may just surprise myself at how fun and rewarding it is to be a producer !

    1. Rosa

      I agree with you Rochelle, I was more of a visitor then a resident in all means on the social media. I have learned a lot in the short amount of time that this course has been running. I am overcoming a lot of obstacles and I am enjoying the experience that it is bringing me!

      1. Bon

        i think it’s really interesting that you frame – and now perceive – the position of not “being sucked into social media” as a barrier, Rochelle. because it is, definitely, but like you say, it’s an identity thing, and so can be very difficult for a person to own in the way that you have here.

        not that i’m in any way suggesting you rush out and become an indiscriminate user across platforms! but kudos to you for being willing to say that you recognized yourself in Jurgenson’s article, and for being willing to try. :)

        1. Rochelle

          thanks it was a big step:) i think i feel better being able to name my hesitance. by doing so i am able to deal with it as opposed to not knowing where my hesitation was coming from!

  15. Jenn H

    I had similar feelings to Osvalda regarding producers and consumers. I read about the 90-9-1 rule in another class which states that 90% of the digital population are solely consumers, 9% will contribute, and 1% will create (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%25_rule_(Internet_culture)). Although I do believe that more of a continuum should exist, I find this rule explains a lot of what I see. For example, of the 200 or so friends I have on Facebook, I see very few enter into conversations (not just “liking“ photos), less than 10 are on twitter, and only 2 have blogs. I am also a consumer, most of the time. I have always preferred to listen rather than speak in large settings with people I don’t know (and I think the internet is a large with a few strangers????). I think that I have difficulty putting myself out there for all to see, and furthermore, criticize (although I am aware this is probably a rarity). The one thing I love about the MEd program is that it is stretching my boundaries and forcing me (although I agree to it?) into new territories of digital media. After this week I now have tweeted (always just lurked), wrote on a blog (again…. lurker), and actually created my own blog (creeping into the 1%)!

    I have very little understanding of the effects of business creeping into what used to be a purely social medium. I do think that as long as people continue the “prosumer exchange” for the interest of social conversations within their networks, it will continue to be a worthwhile venture. If blogging is a person’s way of being heard, can’t it exist even if everything around it is commercial???

    1. Bon

      Jenn, you make a really important point, as Osvaldo did as well, that very very few of us will ever be equal produsers…and yes, most participation follows the 90-9-1 rule more or less.

      there’s still a model for the value and validity of lurking, as found in Wenger’s concept of “legitimate peripheral participation” by which he suggests we can be mentored into participatory action by feeling that it is acceptable to simply be present and observe, first.

      mind you, i do think we are moving in the direction of less participation rather than more…which is one of the reasons i think working with teachers to scaffold these concepts and encourage you all to try things you can then model is important. i think one of the ways in which the permeation of social media by business language and practices keeps regular produsers out or silenced is that the bar for participation always looks higher when it comes with glossy packaging and a big network behind it…increasingly the internet doesn’t look as homegrown as it once did, and that probably shuts down some people who might be interested in participating or contributing but get the sense they’re not really what audiences want. does that make sense? i’m not entirely sure of it, myself, but i’ve watched the shift and i suspect that for some the domination by shiny business voices is less than welcoming.

  16. Johanna Rosa

    We are living in a digital world and our students are very active users of the social media. I don´t think that the educational system can traditionally sit and watch the digital devices go by and never have to touch upon them in their classroom. All these devices are here to stay or at least until something better comes along that will automatically throw the older one in the garbage!
    My son is at the same age as Oscar but he is drawn to Transformers and Star Wars (which I remember watching). His world that he builds around him self is very imaginary and creative. He has been watching short clips on YouTube of Transformers and sucks in all kinds of information… for example he has his custom all figured out for next Halloween how he is going to transform to bumblebee (boy to car that can roll) “good luck there mom”. The books that he brings home from the library are all comic books with action heroes. He is very interested in technology and I know that one of his favourite things in school is free time, then he most of all likes to play on the smart board. All I am saying is; here is a useful tool in education, children of all ages engage in subjects that are of interest!
    It seems that we are still trying to move away from the traditional setting of education into more progressive education. Almost like things have not changed much since John Dewey introduced his theory. We as educators are still struggling with finding ways for our students to engage. Students learn best through their own experience, where they connect and share their own thoughts and ideas. This is an opportunity that the education system must act on to engage students and make learning count.

    1. Susan Conohan ED 673

      Your point about engagement stands out for me. That, I think, is an educator’s greatest task and the solution to engage one student is, of course, not the same for the next. YOur son has what so many young people have lost – the ability to imagine and fantasize. When TV was popular ( in my time) there was always the talk that it ruined or took away from children’s imaginary worlds. I remember that there was TV time and there was play time and for hours my sister, friends and I played in a world of imagination/role playing outdoors for hours each day.
      I held onto this belief system as a mother as best I could, but as a working mom, the TV became more of a stage for entertainment for my children that the outdoors. The phrase “I’m bored” commonly said by my youngest is evidence of this. Add the digital literacies to TV and there is no longer a battle to be won. So, we don’t have a choice about when we live and what technologies are bombarding every crevice of our world,as mentioned today, we do have a choice about how we are going to use them. As we already have discovered it’s a new medium for creativity and so much more!

      1. Bon

        i’m glad you brought Dewey into the conversation, Rosa…his constructivist and practical and start-where-the-students-are approach lends itself really well, i think, to participatory, networked sorts of learning.

        Agust’s Hallowe’en costume sounds fabulous. i don’t want to tell Oscar or he’ll want one too!

  17. Kathie

    I had several pen pals growing up… now I just sound old! I didn’t use carbon paper, but there were times as I was writing out some thoughts for the second or third time, that this sort of ability to connect and share would have been wonderful even as a pre teen!

    At the same time there can be a huge intimidation factor as one is putting ones thoughts out there for the world to see, and unkind words could be devastating to a newbie. I think the positives outweigh the negatives, the opportunity for some in smaller areas, rural or urban to find those of like mind to share thoughts, or to have the opportunity, in possibly a less confrontational way, to read and digest a perspective or point of view different from ones own with out the pressure of an immediate response has merit.

    1. Bon

      i had pen pals too, Kathie…and one of the things i’ve loved about blogging and being a digital produser is it’s allowed me some of that relationality across space, but in a configuration that isn’t just one-to-one.

      you’re certainly right that the intimidation factor for speaking aloud into the cloud can be high: like i said this afternoon, i still face it every time i attempt to communicate in a new medium, like video. but after a few tries it fades, for me at least…and yes, the capacity to respond and interact without the pressure of immediate response? definitely allows me to attend to and bring my best to some exchanges in ways i might not otherwise be able to.

  18. KeAnne

    I love this post but you probably know that since I linked to it! I’m very concerned about produsage disappearing and it’s not simply a rant about monetization. I think there is a huge risk of social media becoming broadcast only and owned by a few.

    In my day job, I work for an organization that provides services to help manufacturers and other businesses stay open, and we are using social media to try to bring awareness of the great work we are doing as well as to change the image of manufacturing. Being able to connect with others doing the same has been invaluable.

    Personally, I love having the chance to put my voice out there, tiny as it may be, as well as to connect with others. I’ve met so many amazing people.

    1. bon

      no, you’re right, KeAnne…it’s not just a monetization issue. the connection between the two is what i want to try to put my finger on for my research, though: it’s not easy to pin down but i think it has something to do with scale and participation and norms. troubles me…not because i mind the big scale players but because i miss the diversity of an ecosystem of small-scale voices.

      1. bon

        i should add…those ecosystems still do exist but do have a harder time making it to mainstream communications/publications now, i think.

  19. Natalie Boyle

    It is important to have a voice and to voice what you have to say. I think that participating in the media has impacted my life personally and professionally by allowing me the opportunity to express my ideas and have others comment on what they thought of what I had to say. It allowed me to have the confidence to allow the public to see what my thoughts and opinions were.

    1. bon

      interesting, Natalie…i feel very much the same about my own participation. i do know some people worry that they won’t have the confidence to participate, or will be shot down rather than supported. yet this isn’t usually the experience newcomers have…if anything, lack of reaction (due to lack of network) seems to be the biggest actual hurdle. i wonder why the cultural narrative still suggests that participation has such huge risk?

      1. Mary G

        After my first and second posts I got warm replies and advice from people whose blogs I had been reading. I am not sure I would have continued without that positive response. Yet I have always been a confident person, in the main, a person who chats to strangers and talks too much in classes and meetings.
        I think it is a very basic and mammalian response, this worry about/dislike of participating. The caution is an old, old reflex, like zoo raised young monkeys scattering screaming from a piece of garden hose thrown into their enclosure.
        Social anthropology could probably provide some answers; I will look as time permits.
        Love your thoughtful, caring commentators.

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  24. Sarah Piazza

    Yes, like Sue, produsage has changed my life but also taken up a worrisome amount of time. I left Twitter because I felt I couldn’t do all that I need to do in my world and still do that, no matter how tempting and reinforcing it was. I wonder how much of the shift you’re seeing in the medium has to do with the ever increasing ways to broadcast coupled with the fact of an infexible cap on our time? I know that in the early years I sacrificed sleep to participate in social media, something I will not/cannot do anymore.

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