The Future is Now: Will I Be a Part of It?

Posted: March 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

Image by Villi, I.(2009). Retrieved from

The question that has been posed as we conclude COMM2F00 is: Do I feel more inclined to become a “produser?”

Let’s do an inventory of the new skills and applications with which I have gained some facility over the duration of two semesters, two digitally based courses and many experiential activities.

I can:

  1. Tweet– and I do a little – but I follow more
  2. Blog – enjoy this and do it more often with greater commitment to the connectivity. Found some great blogs to follow
  3. Podcast – or voice blogging – great tool
  4. Make and edit a video – in a rudimentary way – also engaging but I need much more skill development
  5. Edit a wiki – would not do this for fun or entertainment until I can become more proficient
  6. Work in Google Drive, use tools such as Diigo, Evernote, VoiceThread,  use an RSS reader and curate work.
  7. Create a story in Storify – fantastic way to weave threads of information into a recognizable pattern

To be able to catalogue these is quite remarkable and I am most appreciative of the learning opportunities that were built into the curriculum.

Will I produse once the pressure of academic requirements is removed? According to Lunenfeld, (2007) I am depriving myself of an element of my humanity if I download only. He states that failing to use my newfound social media literacy skills is tantamount to living in a cultural vacuum. He makes a compelling argument in his assertion that we must balance our engagement in the Web 2.0 world to avoid metaphorical diabetes – or an overconsumption of downloaded media to the exclusion of self-created material that one chooses to upload and share into the ‘aether’ (p. 2/12). He frames this as Mindlessness vs. Mindfulness.

Here is my fear. Rheingold (2010) proffers the idea that participation in the act of produsing connects us, reduces passive consumption – creates agency. But he also cautions us regarding the amount of content produced that is “no good and [in which] nobody cares” (p. 18). I want my contributions to have some meaning, beyond me and if it doesn’t, do I want to engage while further extending my digital footprint?  “What could be more melioristic than mindful reception and meaningful production…” (Lunenfeld, 2007, p, 9/12).  Great quote, but, meaningful to whom? For me, that is a barrier that I need to consider. As an adjunct to this, Lievrouw (2012) reminds us of the mean world aspect of the internet, which in part, is the phenomenon where data gathering and  personal monitoring in the name of security and/or commerce means that my information may be used in ways unintended by me.

Well, then, a tentative yes – I will continue to produse. But first I will commit to improving my skills – to continue to learn – to experiment. I want to be the 1 in 100 who actively engage and not part of the 99 who just comment or opt out completely (Bird, 2011). So, at first, I will just test the water, a bit, before plunging into the deep end.

We have also been asked to consider what intimations of deprival do I have regarding the “produsage” that potentially looms before us? I have three areas that give me pause.

One, I alluded to briefly above. The private becomes very much public and every piece of culture that we produce and disseminate discloses ourselves to those who consume it. Our public sphere becomes ever-wider and I fear the loss of personal control and a too-conspicuous merger of the public and the private. Even using privacy settings or protecting oneself by using avatars in an online setting may not be enough to safeguard our personas. Further, as noted by Rheingold (2010), in order to fully employ our “crap detection” abilities, we need to be critical about the produsers whose content we consume. Can this critical reflection take place if the identity of the product’s creator is excessively protected? The onus for fact-checking is now on the consumer; it is no longer a given that published works have been vetted for accuracy.

Additionally, I have concerns for the increase in “continuous partial attention – attention splitting – multi-tasking” (Rheingold, 2010); call it what you will.  Is our ability to give sufficiently focused attention to the world around being compromised to the degree that we will lose the skill of critical reflection? (see my last post) Bird (2011) frames it by noting that our engagement with technology might be a factor in narrowing our perspectives as it has the potential to invite repetition. This could ultimately discourage truly innovative or creative production of cultural content.

Lastly, let’s take a contrarian look at the idea of consumption. Sterne (2012) states that “active participation is now a privileged mode of consumerism” (p. 2). Does this exclude those whose socio-economic status does not afford them inclusion as part of a participatory culture? While we celebrate the democratic nature of the internet, we always need to consider those whose voices might not be heard.

For me the best take-away from all of this is knowledge. I no longer feel on the periphery of social media participation. Despite my Boomer status, I can say with conviction that I am far more digitally literate; a produsing and consuming member of the Web 2.0 world.

  1. I have enjoyed reading your blog this year. I wasn’t won over about Lunenfeld’s viewpoint about having to stay on top of producing to avoid self-deprivation. I do believe that everything in life should be in a kind of balance, though, so in that way I see how an extreme of any kind is not good. I enjoyed my childhood when I wasn’t addicted to a phone or a computer. Part of me wishes I could take my childhood back. My mom saw the technological change coming when I started listening to my Walkman in the car. She would shake her head and say I was part of a new generation she didn’t understand. I also agree with how you said you need to refine your skills before you feel brave enough to keep producing. I felt like a fish out of water with some of our course assignments, especially Wiki, WordPress, Soundcloud and Storify. The perfectionist in me doesn’t want to produce if I can’t be successful at it. I’ve seen a lot of very impressive pages and I feel like I’m only being imitative at best. I hope that I can continue to learn, and have fun learning. Otherwise, what’s the point in producing?

  2. Bruce says:

    I have really enjoyed reading your blog these past many months, Ann. I share your sentiment in the last paragraph and could not have said it better myself. Thanks so much for that in particular. Good luck with and, more importantly, enjoy the rest of your studies. I will be sure to follow your produsage in the future.

    • afcallaghan says:

      Thanks Bruce! I appreciate the always positive feedback. I noted on your blog page (which I will be commenting on when I catch my breath) that you are graduating this semester. Congratulations on your hard won degree. This is also my last course and am finished too! It is a wonderful feeling and I totally appreciate your sense of accomplishment.


  3. sperrier686 says:

    I find the quote that you start this blog post with interesting. “I am depriving myself of an element of my humanity if I download only”. While I do understand the point, and can appreciate that I should not be taking my ability to freely express myself through various web outlets for granted, do you believe that legitimate personal contact with other people is really not enough? Am I truly missing out on some form of social interaction if I neglect my ability to regularly produce utilizing online media, despite having an active social life? While, I realize this is going quite a bit of topic, and was not at all what I originally intended to do while writing these comments, it is an interesting discussion point. I for one still believe that I will mostly stick to the download side. I have no real desire to spend my time as a “produser”, unless I believe I truly have something to add to the conversation.

    • afcallaghan says:

      Hi Steve – great point that you make regarding interaction with others. I agree that personal contact is probably enough for many of us – we managed that way for generations and I am sure that my produsage will be on the low side of the equation. However, I do hope that enough of us produce content to ensure a diversity of voice and viewpoint and that the quality of the material uploaded is sufficient to generate good dialogue and interaction.


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