OpenFiction [Blog]

A few producer culture notes

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 2, 2006

A few notes on producer culture that I haven’t had time to blog about in the last few weeks:

– I’m currently enjoying the Economist’s survey of participatory media. Some of it is a little obvious to people already using the tools, but it really does provide a nice overview of the rapid shifts in media these days. I do think they miss part of it, the distinction I’d make between “participatory media” and “producer culture.” Apart from the fact that I find “participatory media” to be an awkward phrase, I see producer culture as pointing to a wider set of changes that empower individuals to create physical as well as digital objects. Product manufacturing is shifting to provide the purchaser with design control. Case in point to follow:

– A coworker recently walked into my office wearing the Nike shoes he’d designed. Turns out, through NIKEiD you can now customize a wide range of Nike products. It appears to mostly include the decorative features so far (colors, logos, names, numbers) with a few tweaks of materials used. It doesn’t go as far as it might (obviously Nike can only do so much) but Nike clearly “gets” producer culture.

– Neil Young just released his new protest album, Living with War. Good enough news by itself, but how he created and released it is very interesting. The album was written and released in the span of a few weeks, initially as a large streaming file freely available on the web. He plans to follow it with higher-quality files available for purchase and eventually as a physical CD. This points to a characteristic of producer culture that I hadn’t identified before–immediacy. Producer culture is much better positioned to comment on current events than mass media, as the time to press is much shorter. Even with news, bloggers can break stories as they happen rather than waiting for the evening news or morning paper. Neil, in addition to all else, also “gets” producer culture.

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