Some cases to pursue…

Citizen Science
Public laboratory
Galaxy Zoo

Decision Making/Recommendation
all our ideas
google moderator

Consumer production/Prosumption?
open source footware at john fluevog

(open) Hardware Hacking
safecast (Also citizen science)
freedom box
freedom fone

Artwork repository / Artistic Communities

The Internet Archive
Project Gutenberg

Nettime Mailing List

The Station (YouTube)
PCF (Miro)

Fan Culture/Participatory Culture cases?
Original Hip Hop Lyrics Archive
Internet Movie Database

Defunct Projects and/or Projects which failed (in fostering public participation)
GNU Hurd
Corel Linux (and hundreds of other linux distros)
Digital Tipping Point
Symbiam OS
Open Solaris



Rules and Restrictions in Social Media Journalism

Sivek, S. C. (2010). Social media under social control: Regulating social media and the future of socialization. Electronic News, 4(3), 146-164.

Susan Currie Sivek has written an article that bears attention for Part.Lab’s focus on internet-enabled participation, and in particular its use in political television. A new generation of young new media journalists are being socialized in the era/practice I am calling convergence capitalism–the market/mission and producer/consumer conflated period dictated by internet/television business/social projects. With its print demise, the invasion of PR, its utter necessity for democracy, and the transmedia liquidity of its practices, journalism is a great place to look at convergence capitalism. Sivek throws us great lines about the socialization of new media journalists: “Convergence, to them, won’t even merit its own name as a trend” (Civek 2010: XXXX) The article brings up an issue Part.Lab might address–Rules and Restrictions.

Every company is grasping for ways to monetize or incorporate the social graph that constellates around them. News services immediately both saw and felt the threat and possibility of social media. For all the negative criticism it gets for begging its audience to Tweet and for the consistent joke around the idea of the Wolfster tweeting, CNN has a relatively open social media policy for its journalists. Consider the options. Australia’s Sydney Star Observer and Johannesburg’s The Star have “blocked all access to Twitter for their offices. ESPN also prohibits its employees from having personal websites or social media accounts…” (Civek 2010: 154-155). The Washington Post, BBC, and Wall Street Journal all have strict restrictions that fit between these above and the subjects of my work who are extremely liberal in their encouragement of engagement between their journalists and audiences. Al Jazeera English’s The Stream has the most porous membrane separating the audience from the producer. They want us to give them ideas for the show and send them messages for inclusion in the programming. Conversely, the producers freely tweet and Facebook with their audiences. They are encouraged to do so by their higher-ups. The absence of rules and restrictions undoubtedly impacts the relationship between the firm and its productive audience.

Civek clearly thinks Al Jazeera English as seen on The Stream is the future. The strict policies at the Post and BBC are draconian and express the death throes of legacy journalism. For Civek the younger generation’s socialization into social media will eventually overcome the managerial logic of the strict control over social media use. For one, survival in this gutted knowledge industry requires adroit networking savvy by which the personal journalist’s brand trumps their business affinity. This may compel these new media reporters to ignore the rules against social media that are a necessary tool for self-promotion in a precarious workworld where they might get pink-slipped tomorrow. This is likely related to the neoliberal capitalization of the self that is discussed by my colleague Sasha David in reference to the dog-eat-dog world of Hollywood actors. Regardless, Civek believe the restriction prone news firms are on the losing side of history.

I am not sure if social media policies of openness and “independent” personal branding are going to win out. And I am not sure if I want it to. The freelancing of the journalistic workforce is not applaudable. It is a strange world in which young freelancing journalists are more concerned with gaming SEO and writing re-tweetable quips than facts, investigative depth, editorial responsibility, peer review, and transparency. The inflated price of AOL’s purchase of the Huffington Post is evidence of the hysteria around impressions to the loss of quality. Journalism is a job driven by passion, politics, and position, what might be called civic republicanism or a mix of economic and social liberalism. These new media journalists also express some inherited cultural or economic capital that helps to propel them through the lulls in political media employment. Independence and freelancing means to be able to tweet whatever you want and also means financial insecurity. Independence and freelancing means to be able to tweet whatever you want and also means financial insecurity.

Secondly, I fear independence is on its way out as conglomeration and vertical integration are on the increase in internet business and particularly in video entrepreneurship–which is one area of growth in downward trending news firms. I’m watching several news firms experiment with liberal social media policies. Current TV, in its 2005-2009 heyday, thrived on the ethos and vision of community engagement with a very open social media policy, only to minimize community involvement and amateur impact in favor of the professional creed by 2011.

Part.Lab has developed a positive theory of the tasks and resources that firms, organizations, or well-resourced publics grant to their friends and others publics for the production of useful objects. Ours is a generative model for an era of cognitive surplus and creative excess. Civek documents how news firms limit, restrict, and negate the ways their journalists engage with their co-producing audiences. Our category regarding the availability of the resource is a close fit but not as precise as it could be. Again, resource restrictions for who? Civek’s work looks at how the enterprise curtails access by its employees to its resources for community development. An analysis of tasks and resources paired with a study of rules and restrictions might help us to recognize the mounting professionalization of this field of internet-enabled participation.

Resources and Partnerships in Participatory Video

Pilfering the good ideas of my Part.Lab colleagues, I intend to get into the question of multiple resources, perspectivalism, and partnerships through an analysis of two species of participatory video: citizen journalism and entertainment talent networks. For those not in the Lab, FSEs, or formal social enterprises, are the video firms and OPs, or organized publics, are the audiences. As you will see below and in MSNBC’s recent rebranding exercise around the slogan “lean forward,” some efforts have been made to transform the passive audience into active participants. This post looks at the resources FSEs and OPs provide to each other in their co-production.

In our recent paper we wrote:

“For every FSE/OP there is at least one resource at stake. By resource we mean whatever is produced that is most valued by both the FSE and the OP” (p. 167, my italics). We focus on “resource[s] at stake” but for whom?

Each FSE and OP has resources 1) it can offer and 2) resources it needs. As we have defined it, resources are those process or objects that both FSEs and OPs value. Like goals and tasks, resources fuse the two entities. However, we’ve yet to account for how the FSE and the OP perceive resources differently.

Below I will discuss how both OPs and FSEs have distinct resource offerings. Point 2 above, resource needs, that are sated not only from the specific FSE/OP relationship but from other partnerships, FSEs, OPs, and resource ecologies I will briefly address in the conclusion.

To illustrate this I quickly analyze two species of participatory video FSEs/OPs we’ve investigated that speciate into two FSE/OP dyads: citizen journalism and entertainment talent networks. The resources I will focus on in both species of video FSEs and OPs include people (talent) and content (video code). Continue reading “Resources and Partnerships in Participatory Video”

New Article: Ross, Problematizing the User in User-Centered Production

Philippe Ross, Problematizing the user in user-centred production: A new media lab meets its audiences, Social Studies of Science, 306312710385851, first published on December 7, 2010 doi:10.1177/0306312710385851

Haven’t read it yet, but from the abstract: “this study shows how producers distinguish and mediate between users and partners; how they sustain the notion that there is a group of users ‘out there’ whose existence and requirements can be substantiated prior to the creation of specific technical choices; and how user involvement in and of itself is used for the strategic purpose of enticing partners and asserting their control over the production process.”

The End of Internet History: Wikileaks

TechCrunch post about the end of internet history, basically arguing that Wikileaks is like the wall coming down (direct comparison to Francis Fukuyama’s book). Wikileaks is in fact interesting in what it means for the state of transparency and the attempt to control information by governments, but it’s not the end of history…

Interesting for us why? Because “leaking” is not “participation”– or is it?

Clinical Trials as a case for participation

I’m reading Roberto Abadie’s book on the class of people known as professional guinea pigs: people who are paid to participate in clinical trials and who make a living (or what passes for one) doing trial after trial. The idea of this as a form of work (or labor, or job) bears some nice resemblances to the other cases we are considering, such as participation in Amazon Mechanical Turk or the life of the free lance journalist. The book starts with the claim that many of these guinea pigs recognize their participation as a kind of labor, and a form of labor that consists in suffering for money and a kind of work that doesn’t produce anything. It would be interesting to apply our framework here: what is the resource exactly?

Compared to other forms of participation in science, where the inclusion or engagement of people is presumed to be positive, democratizing, etc. this is a clear case where participation is, if not coerced by social circumstances (poverty, joblessness, lack of skills, ease of access to money etc) then at least a morally suspect version of participation. In terms of our analysis, there is obviously no participation at the level of goal setting or at the level of task design (i.e. clinical trial design)–only participation in the execution of the task. What’s interesting here though is the creation of an OP by an FSE (pharma companies, who do a ton of work to locate and enroll trial participants) which includes a sub-OP of “professional guinea pigs”–people who come back over and over, communicate with each other, organize and resist.