Advertising: Pro or Amateur?

May 22, 2009

Last weeks discussion on Wikipedia got me thinking about the extension of knowledge in a professional sense: Will I still use Wikipedia (and alike) the same way when I graduate? How will produsage communities be of use to me then? My bet is, some of you are thinking the exact same thing.

Wikipedia: the secret Gen Y scapegoat?

Currently I use it as a starting point. To get a general understanding about key terms, movies, books, politics, really anything. In fact, even when I think “just Google it”, 9 times out of 10, I end up at Wikipedia. I often wonder if I’m a typical by-product of my generation or if this will just become another social norm. Apparently I’m not alone in thinking this. Jenkins (in Bruns 2008, 208) suggests the possession of knowledge is not what holds collective intelligence together, but rather the social process of acquiring knowledge.

I have an idea

For advertising, the Pro/Am debate is something, which I think extends beyond Bruns and Sanger’s Wikipedia debate. The community of knowledge creators and curators (Bruns 2008, 213) is one that I believe explains ihaveanidea.org.

Now I know I’ve mentioned this ad-community before, but this time I thought we’d take a closer look at just how the creation of advertising is involved in Pesce’s hyperintelligence. Like Wikipedia, I have an idea also is primarily led by amateurs and Pro-Ams, with very little recognition of their professional personas. While the creatives section at I have an idea, publicises advertising professionals who contribute to the community. This allows them to be ‘organic’ members instead of foreign bodies as revealed by Bruns (2008, 218).

Layers of the Pro-Am Onion

Networking and participation. These two words are crucial elements for any produsage model. They also hold importance in the overall process of layering diverse knowledge across a multitude of tools (Bruns 2008, 220). Tools such as Ning enable users to create, modify and manipulate collective intelligence by creating new social networks and platforms on which to decentralise the human knowledge space (Bruns 2008, 220).The public exchange of information through services such as Ihaveanidea, Ning and even Twitter are just the small picture in a wider community. Johnson’s “cosmopedia” explores how the users (the am’s of pro-ams) space is controlled by their own collective intellect.

Let bygones be bygones?

What I have learnt from Wikipedia and produsage communities is: nothing is tangible. Not even information of knowledge. It cannot be classified or classed as it has in the past. It cannot be seen viewed as naïve and simple. Pro-Ams challenge it, alter it, and tweak it to ensure the collective community gets the best out of what is available. Now you’ll probably note my view of past knowledge, like Bruns (2008, 222), is holoptic. It is representative of a clouded truth, based on naivety and mass production. But I wonder if network-centric mindsets are really that different. Yes, they underpin collective intelligence in all of its grandeur, but does it really represent the truth? Or does it merely present a quasi-semi-qualifies Pro-Am view on a certain subject?

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Wikipedia – young and naïve or old and wise?

May 14, 2009

Wikipedia confuses me. Not through functionality or its content. But through its ability to represent and preserve humanity’s collected knowledge through collaborative creation of content (Bruns 2008, 167).

And my guess is, if I think that, there is a good chance that many others feel the same way. Today is your day. Come out of the shadows of your social networked universe, hold your Macbook high and scream, “I am not alone!”

Okay, so it’s probably not best to scream anything out aloud, particularly if you’re in a library. But you can virtually. You can do almost anything virtually – shop, sell, create, learn, be entertained, trade, communicate, produce, distribute, or even just exist online.

The complex platform of Wikipedia incorporates many of these elements. The most important of all is that of collective intelligence (Bruns 2008, 151).

However I believe the importance should lie within produsers of topical communities (Bruns 2008, 151). Evaluating user generated by topical experts is significant to Wikipedia entries. Wales (in Bruns 2008, 147) highlights a negative component of this school of thought, which begs the question: “what role is available within produsage environments for a project’s originator”. Similar issues have been raised with open source and originators of produsage projects. By focusing on maintainenance and participation in social networks with adhocrativc governance, Wikipedia can benefit from topical communities without getting wrapped up in irrelevant outcomes (Bruns 2008, 147).

Governing Wikipedia is an area of interest to academics (Bruns 2008, Viegas, Wattenberg and McKeon 2007) and rightly so. Users can edit and produce content with little moderation. Wikipedias community self regulation, administration and governance outnumbers negative issues surrounding editing (Bruns 2008, 140).

Though this heterarchial models of governance has attracted criticism from “disruptors and miscreants” (Bruns 2008, 140). So much so that in 2006, a right-winged “Conservapedia” was developed because creator Andy Schlafly thought Wikipedia had a liberal, anti-American, anti-Christain bias (Seigel 2007). Topics such as homosexuality and Barack Obama have created a stir among the public sphere. Administrators remain Conservapedia differs from Wikipedia in that its articles have a neutral point of view (NPOV). While Wikipedia administrators have are generally ‘requested’ (Bruns 2008, 142), Conservapedia employs a merit system and a traditional hierarchy.

Ultimately Wikipedia follows the principles of produsage as laid out by Bruns (2008, 142-3). Does its popularity and ability to deal with vandalism at a rapid speed enable its virtual existence? Has Wikipedia’s lack of organisational structure at the beginning of this project forced them into ad hoc community involvement?

I need to hear your thoughts on this one, but in the mean time I hope this has provided some virtual clarity.