My newest relationship: Prosumer ME & Prosumer YOU.

It’s so hard, sometimes, to give of yourself, constantly. It is harder sometimes to receive, me with all my, probably imagined, imperfections.

From this place of vulnerability, as a journalist, I ask people to share themselves with me. We are strangers, offering of ourselves something tangible, something real. I am a consumer of knowledge. They trust me with their stories, knowing that I see through a particular lens, a lens that I will use to interpret their story. I am a producer of knowledge.

In this way, I may be deemed a prosumer. I consume and produce, I drink tea like water, and then I repeat the cycle. Please don’t interpret this as me complaining. It is a privilege to share people’s stories. I truly love what I do.

It’s strange how some things, you never forget. And, others are gone by the time you finish drinking your cup of tea. For me, I remember people’s stories.

Yesterday, I met a wonderful, warm and heartfelt woman named Irene Tshinguta. She shared her story with two of my journalism friends and I. She taught me that nothing in life is certain but love. People, places, and occurrences come and go. Nothing in this world is permanent.

Here is Irene’s story.

Thousands of refugees and immigrants come to Canada every year by land, sea and air. The challenges they face are massive. Gerrit De Vynck tells the story of one woman who came to Canada from the Democratic Republic of the Congo after she became a target of the government after and incident while she was crossing the border into Zambia to sell clothes she made herself. Since arriving in Canada, alone and scared, she has built up a new life with the love and support of a local community.

By. Veronica Tang, Gerrit De Vynck, Marijke Large

I realized that by choosing to share this video, with you, the reader, the previously mentioned roles of the consumer and producer shift slightly (or should I say new roles are added). And so, I began to reflect on the relationship between me, Marijke the blogger, and you, the reader. In any blog post there is the reader (you), the subject (Irene) and the producer (me). The consumer is the reader, and so I, the writer, am the producer on the information along with my fellow journalism students and Irene.

Arguably, if you, the reader, post comments at the end of this post you are engaging in a conversation with the blogger, and therefore you are becoming both a content consumer AND a producer. According to Ritzen, Dean and Jurgenson a Producer + Consumer =’s Prosumer.

What I find fascinating is how the prosumer interacts with the story the blogger is telling. The reader, and potential prosumer, can sometimes even become a part of the story you share, and occasionally dictate what should be blogged about. I have also read comments on blogs that tell the author their content is becoming boring and repetitive.

Though it may be sometimes true, it makes me wonder if people are starting to forget that bloggers are real people telling their (mostly) real stories. By “consuming” their content we are sharing in their story. We watch their story unfold from week to week, post to post. Unlike the video I posted, where if you don’t like it, you can just stop playing it, with a blog, we also have the ability to interact and tell the blogger what we like and dislike.

So, what is the line between the blogger and the commenter in the story being told? Do the readers help co-produce your narrative on your blog? Or, as Jergenson, Ritzen and Dean might ask, would blogs be less effective, and potentially collapse without prosumers? Does the ability to comment on someone’s blog imply you have invested in them and have the right to suggest what they write about or what content they can or cannot include?

BUT, if the ideals of the blogger are generally not in line with the commenter’s they can choose to update their content according to the reader feedback through responding to the comments. It is a fine line between engaging with the readers and wanting to maintain your own, authentic voice. Ultimately, I ask, who owns the comment box?! So, in terms of the readers co-authoring the blog (prosumer alert), who do the comments really belong too?

One last thought. Does framing the reader as a “consumer” and potential “producer,” rather than just a passive reader of your blog, make you think differently about these questions?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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6 thoughts on “My newest relationship: Prosumer ME & Prosumer YOU.

  1. Very interesting blog. There were a couple of things that came to my mind when reading through it and thinking about the questions you put forward.

    First, I was thinking about your role here as blogger/ videographer. I was thinking more in regards to the way you put forward the information you wanted to get out. The video, for example, was filmed and edited in a certain way that conveyed a particular message you wanted me to receive. You mentioned that compared to a blog that if I did not like the video you posted I could simply just stop watching it without interacting with the creator. This is true and would go back to the discussions our class was having on slacktivism. Yet it is also untrue. If your video was on a news program and I disagreed/agreed with the content I could write to that channel with my opinions.

    Further, if you were to have the video on YouTube, for example, there is a place for comments. In relation to your question about the blogger responding to feedback I think YouTube is an interesting example. The comments people post are usually either supportive or negative. The vlogger in this case also has the opportunity to respond to the opinions of people. At times some of these comments will acknowledge what a viewer pointed out and content in the video will change usually by adding a subtext or making another video as a response. But what I find most interesting is when viewer’s comments are flagged as spam and no longer appear. While in some cases these comments were spam in others usually it is because the vloggers did not agree with the person’s point of view. This relates back to your question about who does the comments really belong to.

    I think when a blogger/vlogger changes their original point because of the comments by readers/viewers it is about furthering the discussion. When comments are ignored or deleted because they hold different views it stalls this progress.

  2. I really enjoyed watching your work Marijke 🙂 it was nice to see your true passion 🙂

    After reading your blog, I have several points I would like to raise. Firstly, your blog reminded me of the discussion on Web 1.0 VS. Web 2.0. This relationship between consumer and producer becomes blurred with the emergence of this so called “Web 2.0” As we have discussed in class, Web 1.0 is a website based on very limited interaction between the producer (inventor) of the website and the consumer (the viewer.) Examples of a Web 1.0 website are any personal website, such as Rena’s mother’s website. Websites such as our wordpress website demonstrate characteristics of Web 2.0: the consumer can interact with the producer (my comment on your blog is a perfect example,) and vice versa.

    Secondly this blog reminded me of the theory of mass self-communication by Castells. The blogger is the perfect example of a prosumer, one who both consumes and produces the content they produce. Castells has discussed the theory of mass self-communication, which allows for individuals to consume and produce their own values and beliefs that may not conform to the norms of society. To rephrase, the individual, rather than being subjected to mass media that does not interest/apply to their everyday life produce their own type of media that expresses their own individual beliefs and values. The blogger does exactly that. Take any blogger or vlogger on the internet. Let’s use Jenna Marbles of Youtube as an example. For the most part, she produces videos on topics that interest her or are relevant to her. She also is rather controversial in the sense that she normally pokes fun at the traditional norms that we are supposed to follow in our society (a great example is the social construction of beauty in her video “How to Trick People Into Thinking You are Really Good Looking.”) Anyway, getting back on point, the prosumer is a key point in understanding the theory of mass self communication.

  3. Shaina Ellis says:

    This article makes me say ummmmmh (thinking face). I wasn’t too sure what I thought about your article initially. I was kinda like, um, huh, not sure. But as I read on I became more comfortable with the point you were trying to establish. Bloggers are prosumer and so are the readers. I would agree with that definitely. Me as the reader when I post comments at the end of this post I begin to engage in a vital conversations that make me apart of this blogs production. My response is a crucial part of a blog, and makes me a co-producer.

    A prosumer is described as a marriage between being a person that consumes a product but also produces it. ” It is very easy to see how as consumer’s we act as the driving force behind websites, gossip blogs and YouTube. A blog couldn’t stand without its readers.

    The idea where you analyzed how the prosumer interacts with the story the blogger is telling was interesting. It proposed a new notion that the interaction is not only vital but become a part of the story and can sometimes steer future blog topics. Feedback is important; it can change the artistic style of the blog. Chia argument that “the socioeconomic logic of prosumption facilitates the extraction of economic value from the blogosphere in an increasingly precise fashion”. Your final thought evokes an argumentative question “Does framing the reader as a “consumer” and potential “producer,” rather than just a passive reader of your blog, make you think differently about these questions?”

    For me, it is completely made me think more critically about my participation in social networks. I play I very active role and I am doing that now as I write this blog comment. This was an idea that I never thought about critically until now. Good job open the minds of your readers ;).

  4. I enjoyed this blog, it really had me thinking! I feel that if we question “who owns the comment box?” it takes away from the issue. If one is commenting on a blog or if someone is writing a blog they are expressing their individual right to freedom of speech. The idea of a “prosumer” is quite fascinating because it places the people in the position of expecting something in return for using/producing or consuming a product. Instead we should also question ourselves, what are you gaining by using these product? Does the company become a prosumer for the people? The company is producing the tools and they are also consuming the information we provide because they need to provide a quality system to its consumers. In the end it becomes this cycle that everyone takes part in. The only downfall is we (the normal, everyday users) do not have mansions or millions of dollars in our bank accounts.

    Also, I believe that as a prosumer we should not expect to gain capital to use websites like facebook, twitter, wordpress, etc. Fuchs stated, “Social networking platforms in their current form further advances individualization.” This is what I believe a prosumer should really represent, individualization. People have the freedom to express their opinions. The Internet is a medium to voice and state how someone may feel about issues within society. The debate is not about whether they are heard; it is about the fact that the Internet, or the media sites, is a domain for freedom of expression. Individualization is a power feeling to have, issues such as class, race, gender, religion, you name it, becomes a topic for discussion because someone has the freedom to talk about it. Twitter or facebook are powerful tools if we use them in that sense. Overall, are we a prosumer? The answer is yes. Is it a bad thing? The answer is no.

    Hillary may be a bit over the top but I feel that Internet freedom is the future. It gives us the power to make some types of changes in society. Becoming a prosumer does have a positive side to it because you are helping to change society for the better. Being a prosumer on social network sites will help promote the elimination of norms that negatively affect many people in this world.

  5. […] by explaining how to post porn to YouTube, my reader was also acting as prosumer (marijkelard.wordpress.com provides an excellent example of the prosumer identity). The ability to produce, consume, and […]

  6. wordzpressed says:

    Thank you for sharing this… and your own vulnerability. I have to preface my response by first saying that, more often than not we understand vulnerability to mean ‘weakness;’ but I see it as important to recognize the absolute courage that it takes to be vulnerable and imperfect. I have posted this on my own blog, but there is a really great vulnerability researcher that I would recommend to you named Brené Brown.
    Now for my response:
    At one point you question whether the ability to comment on another’s blog post gives an individual (the commenter) the ‘right’ to suggest what someone else writes about or includes. This, to me, very easily illustrates the typical notion of a prosumer: consuming a blog, responding to it, and ultimately producing an alternative perspective. I think that on many occasions, and frequently in blog comments, the things we say challenge or reaffirm the position the blogger has taken. However, I do not necessarily believe that the comments we post, regardless of the position they take, have the power (or the ‘right’) to tell any person what their blog should include.
    I think that the great thing about blogs is that we can post those things that we feel are pertinent to our lives at that moment, get them out there to read and be read, and decide if any or all feedback is worthy of personal adoption. Going back to early Manuel Castells, “the culture of freedom is embodied in the Internet.” Having the space to freely post personal ideas AND comment on what is already written is how we as bloggers use “mass self-communication” to engage in the (albeit cyclical) process of prosumerism.
    I also have to profess; I love the notion of ‘adding new roles’ rather than simply shifting from consumer to producer to consumer, yet again. I think that there are in-betweens, moments, times when we are simply learning and knowledge building; and may not necessarily be producing or consuming in such steadfast ways.

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