Grilling Peer Production with Weber

Kreiss, D., M. Finn, and F. Turner. 2010. “The Limits of Peer Production: Some Reminders from Max Weber for the Network Society.New Media & Society 13:243-259. (Accessed December 14, 2010).

A new article in New Media and Society proposes that we go back to our Weber for a fresh wake-up call concerning the heady promises of peer production. It’s a good article for one good reason: it characterizes some of the basic features of what they call the “consensus view” of peer production. The consensus view includes claims that 1) peer production is psychologically gratifying labor (which is good), 2) it leads to egalitarianism and efficiency 3) it realizes ethical relationships between collaborators (?), 4) that peer production is a mode equally suited to all domains, and 5) that it is nonmarket and nonproprietary. Aside from the cryptic one about ethical relationships, these are all fair characterizations of a “consensus” view… tif you believe such a consensus exists, rather than a cacophony of scholars and pundits with their own reasons: a few first movers (Lessig, Benkler) that have since moved on to their next project, a few loudmouths (Shirky, Weinberger) who don’t really care at all about scholarship but love being in the limelight (Clay Shirky writing for Foreign Affairs!) and a few others (Jenkins and everyone in cultural studies) who are just a little too giddy with excitement about fan culture.
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Bastard Culture! and Peer Production Studies

A relevant book and a bevy of articles on peer production emerged recently:

Bastard Culture! How User Participation Transforms Cultural Production by Mirko Tobias Schäfer

…and New Media and Society bringing it in the recent edition:

The limits of peer production: Some reminders from Max Weber for the network society by Daniel Kreiss, Megan Finn, and Fred Turner, New Media & Society 2011;13 243-259

Factors influencing the willingness to contribute information to online communities by Xigen Li, New Media & Society 2011;13 279-296

The ‘popular’ culture of internet activism by Tatiana Tatarchevskiy, New Media & Society 2011;13 297-313,

Cooperation with the corporation? CNN and the hegemonic cooptation of citizen journalism through by Farooq A. Kperogi, New Media & Society 2011;13 314-329,

The Prosumer Studies Working Group

Here is an obvious kindred spirit. The founders, G. Ritzer and N. Jurgenson, have written a rather experimental text “Production, Consumption, Prosumption: The Nature of Capitalism in the Age of the Digital “Prosumer.” In it, they posit that a new form of capitalism is emerging based on free digital handouts and collaborative consumption. Not as corporate/complicit as Axel Bruns and his notion of liberated and transformational ‘produsage,’ prosumption retains an element of critique, curiosity, and concern over this emergent digital economy. Check it:

Cuddly Corporate Collaborators

A Washington Post article today by Greg Ferenstein, “In a Cutthroat World, Some Web Giants Thrive by Collaborating,” is a light survey of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple and their internal and external policies of sharing from APIs to intrafirm competition/collaboration. Pretty puffy piece but some nicely observed data. Includes a nice analysis of Google’s risks and pleasures of their open Chrome browser. I’ve met Ferenstein and yes he has drank the zealous punch of lateral organizations inside media firms. But I guess you would have to in order to talk to Twitter and Facebook employees.

Lay Science: The Puppet Musical

Machine Project is running a puppet show about Lay Science and Art

Lay Science: a project by Eric Lindley and Katie Shook, in residence at Machine Project

January 23rd – February 26th, 2011

more info here.

What if art could have a measurable function in the world? What if people outside the scope of academia had the resources to practice sound, scientific research? Lay Science, a collaboration between Eric Lindley and Katie Shook, is an exploration into the literal use-value of art, and a critique of institutionalized scientific research.

It is also a short puppet musical.

Lay Science integrates common, contemporary scientific techniques with experimental art-making to combine the two fields into a rich, participatory exploration into how the integration of human activities like art and science can open up dialogue and stimulate progress in each field. Participants — anyone who would like to visit Machine Project from late January through late February, 2011 — are invited to view a short, private puppet show and take a survey, so that Katie and Eric can gather data for scientific analysis.

The show itself is a short, private puppet performances by Katie and Eric, which will be done for one audience member at a time. The viewer will be immersed in a complete, surreal musical and visual environment, in a small enclosure within the gallery, as Katie and Eric make a unique performance for that person alone, about the inhabitants of a small country house that has been washed out to sea.

In addition to the experiment, guest speakers on related scientific fields and artwork will be invited for talks. Also, stay tuned for information on the final presentation of data and conclusions at the end of February.

Each show is designed for one, and just one, audience member at a time. Please reserve your spot in advance for this short puppet play to guarantee a spot by following the RSVP links below.

Walk-in participants are highly encouraged as well, if you happen to be in the area on weekday evenings or during the weekend. We suggest that if you want to just drop by, you call ahead to the gallery a little bit ahead of time, at 213.483.8761, just to check we’re in.

Exploring New Configurations of Network Politics

Here’s an analogous organization seeking collaborations.

Exploring New Configurations of Network Politics

The project will explore the intersection of politics, networks and cultural practices. The network will work on an analysis of how the emergence of a ‘network society’ is reshaping the ground upon which we think about politics and culture. The primary objective is therefore to open up a dialogue between researchers, practitioners and activists that begins to map this important new domain of social, political and cultural production. Given that the notion of the network is contested, and entails many variations, the network will also have to address its own form, thus the project will entail a reflexive element which will encourage exploratory and innovative practices. To put it bluntly, it takes a network to understand the network. This will necessitate exploring emerging and ground-breaking media, communications and multi-disciplinary approaches to both scholarship and the dissemination of scholarship. This website will act as a hub for this activity and will be updated with more features and information shortly.

4 Conferences for Part.Pub.Part.Lab People

7th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration

October 3-5, 2011 | Mountain View, California

The premier conference on open collaboration and related technologies for researchers, industry, entrepreneurs and practitioners worldwide. Panel and Papers due April 1, 2011.

The Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference in Boulder, Colorado, from September 18 to 21, 2011.

Papers due March 15, 2011.

Internet Research 12.0 – Performance and Participation

The 12th annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), an international association for students and scholars in any discipline in the field of of Internet studies.

Submissions due March 1, 2011.

Net Worth: Media Distribution in the Digital Era

Jointly presented by the Carsey-Wolf Center’s Media Industries Project and the Arthur N. Rupe Chair in the Social Effects of Mass Communication, this one-day conference will stimulate fresh research on media distribution by bringing together scholars, critics, and industry practitioners to explore diverse aspects of the digital distribution revolution, including new technologies, creative labor, media strategy, and corporate structure.

Friday, February 18, 2011 – 9:30am – 4:30pm
Pollock Theater, UCSB

Participatory Engineering

Recently, I found a book called “Participatory democracy and Political Participation: Can participatory engineering bring citizens back in?” by Thomas Zittel, Dieter Fuchs (2007). The notion of “participatory engineering” should probably sound eerie, propagandistic and sinister, but apparently it doesn’t to these guys. In fact, it’s part of what seems to be an explosion of reform proposals for participatory democracy. Two websites have collections of such “engineering” ideas. One is a mysterious, seemingly british thing called “People and Participation” and the other is Participedia. Both have nice lists of a bewildering array of methods and cases (Participedia: methods, cases).

What’s interesting about these examples for us, I think, is the way they hew closely to a common-sense definition of what government is (and ergo, what e-government is). It relates to the workings of governments obviously. It’s about participatory budgeting, it’s about planning, it’s about public welfare… etc. The obviousness of this only seems striking in contrast to the kinds of cases we are concerned with as Birds of the Internet… e.g. Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. where it’s just as much about participation and people, and arguably more powerful than many local governments, but also quite obviously not government. So perhaps this is an interesting data-point about the slippage in the use of terms like “democratization” and “participatory democracy”– that they are easily applied to objects that are not obviously governments (even if governance is central to them) without it seeming contradictory.

Pushed further, one might then ask what happens to the common sense notion of what a government is the more tools (blogs, wikis, social networks, etc) are applied to solving problems of participation in those seemingly obvious areas.