Fan-based Peer Production

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Henry Jenkins:

"When we read reports of fans developing online reference works for Lost, say, there's often a dismissive response that says they had too much time on their hands. I don't want to undercut the value of this grassroots production of knowledge and culture on its own terms, but also want to ask - whose fault is that? Such activity emerges in a world which undervalues the creativity and knowledge, the skills and intelligence, of every day people -- undervalues it in school, undervalues it in the work place. As a result, young people create alternative spaces where they can learn and share what they learn with each other. It can be enormously frustrating to watch the company where you work make bad decisions because it is ill-informed about alternative possibilities, even as you sit there, knowing about new ways forward, and not being solicited to contribute, or sitting there going through mind-numbing repetitive activities while you know a high tech way which would be more effective and efficient. Just as schools need to change to embrace new ways of learning, companies need to change to embrace new ways of working. The most forward thinking companies have relatively flat organizations which allow new ideas to emerge bottom up from any corner of their staffs. They reconfigure teams so that everyone has a chance to lead and people can contribute based on their skill and expertise. As we think about who might be best at working in such an organization, it may well be someone who grew up playing massively multiplayers games, swaping roles, trying new identities, tackling new challenges. Hell, don't just hire an individual gamer. Hire an entire squad or guild, since this team of people already knows how to work together to achieve its goals, already knows what each member can contribute, and already trusts each person to carry their own weight. It isn't just that companies need to embrace new technologies; they also need to recognize and value new cultural processes which come out of young people's experience of growing up in a networked society." (}

More Information

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  2. Fan Videos
  3. International Fan Labor in Swedish Independent Music
  4. Denis McGrath on Fan Fiction in the Internet Age
  5. Fan Funding