Oct 07 2008
Final Seminar: Participatory Culture Then, Now and Tomorrow
Your core reading/viewing:
[X] Axel Bruns. "Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation." Paper presented at Creativity & Cognition conference, Washington D.C., USA, 13-15 June 2007. Also see the interview of Axel Bruns recently conduct by Henry Jenkins: Part I; Part II.
[X] Jane McGonigal, ‘Saving the World Through Game Design’ [20 minute video presentation], 2008 New Yorker Conference, 28 May 2008. And once you’ve thought about the video, please visit the latest socially ‘game’ McGonigal and her colleagues are running, Superstruct. Explore the artifacts on the Superstruct pages, delve into the material created and edited by players (allow yourselves at least thirty minutes to really look at Superstruct).
[X] Cory Doctorow, ‘Giving it Away’ and ‘World of Democracycraft’ in Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future, Tachyon Publications, 2008, pp. 71-75 and 201-206 respectively. (There are plenty of different formats of the whole book available online – feel free to read as much as you like, but please at the very least read the two very short essays I’ve suggested.)
[X] Tama Leaver, ‘Building Open Education Resources From the Bottom Up’ [18 minute video], Tama Leaver dot Net, 23 September 2008.
Axel Bruns’ notion of ‘produsage’, where the concepts of producer and consumer collide in a world on increasing user-generated content creation, in some important ways updates or extends the idea of participatory culture discussed in the early weeks of this course. Bruns’ essay gives us a sense of the heightened role users play in the creating content, but it is also aware of the limitations of such an idea (something often forgotten as the selected examples of participatory culture and collective intelligence are continually rehashed).
In contrast, the video from Jane McGonigal gives a far more optimistic take on the world, where the participatory culture surrounding socially meaningful games can act as the perfect focus on collective intelligence. More to the point, the latest socially-aware gaming experience from McGonigal and her colleagues is being played right now, so looking at Superstruct will, hopefully, let us see how well these ideals are working in this world of meaningful play.
Finally, Cory Doctorow’s two short essays (and other writing in Content) return to two key questions in relation to digital communication: ‘How can copyright be meaningfully situated within an informatic economy, especially in relation to older media forms [such as books]?’ ; and ‘How will the social fabric of virtual worlds be governed?’. Also worth considering is the fact that the book Content is itself released under a Creative Commons license.
Questions to Consider:
 Is Bruns’ model of ‘produsage’ a more accurate and realistic version of participatory culture as it operates today (and tomorrow)? How well does the idea of produsage reflect aspects of your own life, and what role do you think produsage has in our increasingly digital communities? How well does produsage describe the examples of participatory culture examined throughout this unit?
 How well does Superstruct work as an example of collective intelligence in the real world? Are socially-responsible games good learning tools? Is so, are they still fun (or do you think they’d be fun)? Where is the boundary between play, learning and activism in Superstruct? (Do you think this style of meaningful gaming would be useful to investigate other political or social issues?)
 Returning to the question of copyright, looking at Doctorow’s example and the unit overall, is there a future for copyright in the era of digital communication, and if so, how do you think it should operate?
 After watching Tama’s video, how do you feel about Open Educational Resources and your role as participating in their creation via this course?
 Finally, how have your own ideas about participatory culture and digital communication changed since the beginning of this unit? What surprised you the most? What worries you? What makes you hopeful and optimistic about our digital future?
The Last Blog Comments
As well as making your last comment or two about the topics raised in this seminar, can I ask everyone to please make one additional reflective comment detailing your thoughts about this unit overall: did it work as a coherent unit for you? What was most interesting or enjoyable? What didn’t work as well? Any suggestions about things that should be changed?
And that’s the final seminar done. Now you’ve just got your remix projects to complete – and to post to the blog – and that’s your iGeneration experience done (at least in the formal sense)!