Given my experience with the various tools used in this course, such as Storify, YouTube, and Wikipedia (all of which I have never used as a producer before), alongside the course-related readings and materials, I am certainly encouraged and feel more inclined to become a “produser”. If there is one over-arching theme that I have noticed throughout this course and that has resonated with me, it’s the theme of being active participants in the usage of Internet tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as active consumers and producers of the information that is being accessed, produced, and shared that is relevant to our everyday lives. This realization has both challenged me and encouraged me to critically analyze my personal usage of the Internet, as well as the usage of others who contribute to the information that I am accessing, which undoubtedly will continue to encourage me well beyond the duration of this course.
This realization and encouragement is integral to my future success, I believe, because the Internet is only going to continue growing and will become more and more prevalent in our daily lives. As Bird (2011) identifies, “the rise of digital media, specifically the Web 2.0 environment, has profoundly changed the everyday interactions people have with media today” (p. 1). From what I have perceived, like the Internet, media is also becoming more and more prevalent in both academic and working spheres. It is becoming more and more important to both attain and utilize skills related to the Internet and media in academia and in the workplace, because much of what we produce and participate in is influenced by media. With this notion in mind, I believe that I would be doing myself a severe disservice if I chose not to take the time to understand emerging technologies and Internet platforms related to social media and producers of relevant information. In doing so, I believe I can set myself up with a chance at success in my future practices, as having attaining these skills may prove to be integral to my future endeavors.
The one intimation of deprival I have thought about in particular regarding the “produsage” that potentially looms before us is that the technological divide may be further enhanced and have much more severe consequences then it already does. As Bird (2011) references from Gross (2009), “web-based media have made multidirectional, audience-generated communication a reality, giving citizens the opportunity to join the party as producers rather than merely consumers the topdown tyranny of the media has been effectively challenged,” (p. 1). While this quote adequately addresses the reality in which the future will likely be based upon, it also is a key indicator of just how influential it will be in increasing the technological divide. Essentially, those who have access to and the knowledge of emerging technologies and all that they encompass will have the opportunity to be successful communicators in current and future communication processes. However, those who do not have the access to emerging technologies and all they encompass, or do not have the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively and efficiently utilize such technologies, are and will continue to be at a severe disadvantage in current and future communication practices. As such, those who do have the access to and the knowledge of the application skills needed to effectively and efficiently utilize emerging technologies will be able to participate in the multidirectional, audience-generated communication practices, while those without the access to emerging technologies or the skills to utilize them effectively and efficiently will not.
Keeping this notion in mind, Rheingold (2010) references some aspects directly related to the idea of produsage that will ensure those with the access to technology attain the skills necessary to be effective produsers. And although those who do not have access to such technologies and platforms are not directly discussed, it can be assumed that Rheingold’s proposed skills and fortunes are certainly a call to address the technological divide issue, as these aspects will certainly develop personal growth for those with access, but will also further the technological divide.
As Rheingold (2010) suggests, “Access to many media empowers only those who know how to use them. We need to go beyond skills and technologies. We need to think in terms of literacies. And we need to expand our thinking of digital skills or information literacies to include social media literacies,” (p. 14). The five aspects, or literacies, that Rheingold identifies are attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness, and critical consumption. Essentially, all of these aspects or literacies work together to ensure that consumers of the Internet can effectively develop into produsers and assume a more active role in their Internet and technological-related endeavors. While this information is certainly appreciated and insightful for those who have the opportunity to access emerging technologies that will undoubtedly shape our future, there is, again, a call to address the issues involved in the technological divide. If we continue to develop in the way that we have in the past few decades, a greater importance should be placed on providing those without access to technologies the opportunity to do so, whether it be through governmental grants or support, or just through proper education of such literacies and skills in school.
Bird, S. E. (2011). Are we all produsers now? Cultural Studies. 25 (4-5), pp. 502-516
Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and other 21st-century social media literacies. Educause Review. 45:5. pp. 14-24