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Bastard Culture!

Bastard Culture!: How User Participation Transforms Cultural Production

Mirko Tobias Schäfer
Series: MediaMatters
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Bastard Culture!
    Book Description:

    New online technologies have brought with them a great promise of freedom. The computer and particularly the Internet have been represented as enabling technologies, turning consumers into users and users into producers. Furthermore, lay people and amateurs have been enthusiastically greeted as heroes of the digital era. This thoughtful study casts a fresh light on the shaping of user participation in the context of, among others, popular discourse in and around new media. Schäfer's groundbreaking research into hacking, fan communities and Web 2.0 applications demonstrates how the dynamic of innovation, control and interaction have shifted the boundaries of the traditional culture industry into the user domain. The media industry undergoes a shift from creating content to providing platforms for user driven social interactions and user-generated content. In this extended culture industry, participation unfolds not only in the co-creation of media content and software-based products, but also in the development and defense of distinctive media practices that represent a socio-political understanding of new technologies. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1315-4
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Introduction Yet Another Media Revolution
    (pp. 9-24)

    In 1983, Time magazine nominated the PC as the ‘Machine of the Year’. The edition’s title, ‘The Computer Moves In’, announced the Information Age’s entry into our living rooms. On the cover, a man sits alienated in front of his new roommate. What he plans to do with the computer or what the machine might do to him is not quite clear. In January 2007, a computer was again displayed on the Time cover, but this time the computer screen is a mirror reflecting the ‘Person of the Year’: ‘Yes, You. You Control the Information Age. Welcome to Your World’....

  5. Chapter 1 Promoting Utopia/Selling Technology
    (pp. 25-40)

    New technologies spread by word of mouth. Legends, myths and narratives accompany a new technology while it is still in development and announce it to a broader audience in society, to its potential users. Many stories have been told of imagining futures drafting possible trends in the use and development of technology (Barbrook 2005). The attempt to bring technology to perfection and to create a utopia through engineering has been recognized as an important agent of change (e.g. Peters 1999; Daniels 2002; De Vries 2008). Whether a positive or negative utopia is depicted depends on which terminology, images, and associations...

  6. Chapter 2 Claiming Participation
    (pp. 41-54)

    Participation has been perceived as a key concept to democratization and the balancing of inequalities in society, dating back to the civil revolutions and rebellions of the 18th century and the structural transformation of the public sphere (Habermas 1962/1990). After political participation had been primarily claimed by those who already had economic power, the bourgeoisie-participation was formulated in the more contentious terms of class struggle, calling for access to means of production. The rising mass production of consumer goods and the increasing prominence of mass media witnessed participation claiming access to media production and its means of distribution. Socio-political critiques...

  7. Chapter 3 Enabling/Repressing Participation
    (pp. 55-76)

    Discussions about participatory culture often neglect the fact that they are as much about technology as they are about social interactions. Although technology is assigned an important role, many discussions insufficiently analyse the extent to which technology influences emerging media practices. Technology is perceived as somehow magically enabling users to participate in collective production, especially in the discourse on participatory culture. Perceiving technology as having appeared out of thin air leads to a moral framing of participatory culture, which results in analyses dwelling excessively on ‘good’ or ‘bad’ consequences. Highly informed by the positive connotation connected to community, participation, or...

  8. Chapter 4 Bastard Culture
    (pp. 77-124)

    After having examined the affordances of computers, software, and the Internet, this chapter will show how appropriation and design evolve in the extended culture industry. As described in the preveious chapter, the design of software or electronic consumer goods is ambivalent in either stimulating or repressing certain practices. Using two sets of cases, this chapter encourages a perception of participatory culture as a heterogeneous constellation of different participants, either professionals or amateurs, whose activities are deeply intertwined. It furthermore argues for an understanding of participatory culture as a hybrid constellation of information technology and large user numbers interacting in a...

  9. Chapter 5 The Extension of Cultural Industries
    (pp. 125-166)

    The previous chapters described a participatory culture unfolding through user activities that increasingly affect the production and distribution of media texts and software. This participatory culture is part of a media practice intrinsically affected by the qualities of related technology. Simultaneously promoted and represented in a popular discourse on social progress through technological advancement, this cultural practice manifests itself as an extension of established production routines of media texts and consumer goods. As explicit participation, it shows an active involvement of users in co-producing, appropriating and changing media texts and software-based products of the established industries or even independently creating...

  10. Chapter 6 Participatory Culture Understanding participation
    (pp. 167-174)

    As I have described extensively in previous chapters, the recently emerged media practices that have been labelled participatory culture must be understood as built up from three interrelated components: a) narratives and rhetoric developed and distributed in popular and scholar discourses, b) specific technological qualities, and c) media practices. This book has argued that the emerging media practice and the discourse on information technologies harbour a promise for social progress. In fact, the affordances to fulfil such a promise can be inscribed into technological design, which in return can also stimulate participation. In many aspects, the participatory culture constitutes new...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 175-214)
  12. Resources
    (pp. 215-216)
  13. Literature
    (pp. 217-231)
  14. Appendix A Abbreviations
    (pp. 232-233)
  15. Appendix B Glossary
    (pp. 234-238)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 239-249)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 250-250)