November 21, 2008
FOE3 Liveblog: Conversation -- Wealth, Value, and Social Production

Henry Jenkins and Yochai Benkler see themselves as a closely related, which that they had read each other's book in terms of thinking about differentially motivated players.

Nonprofit distribution of content - now we can begin there. In this moment of peer production, what are the nonprofit, public television.

YB: implications that I see are - 1. A change of role. In an environment where communicating with large groups, public media was uncorrelated with market flows of cultural production. That cost barrier isn't there anymore, so the necessity of sufficient level of ____ isn't there anymore. So is it the elite aspect of it? When you look at free software and open access books and the role of foundations that harness work of peers into whole. Nonprofits are becoming helping groups become more effective in what they do. Public media needs to
instead of producing educational materials that are stable good but to provide ways in which teachers can produce content. WGBH - Nova - convert content into spreadable media in ways that are pitched from a different perspective. Understanding the need for a locus of high capital production has become less important. What little public funds there are can go further if they're oriented toward provided opportunities for generating content rather than created fixed content. Mentione - sunlight foundation, apache software

HJ: Public tv used to provide diversity, but it couldn't provide the social network, the passion for diversity. In an era of social networks, PBS plays a role as a digital network. Very good at soliciting us as contributors but stops once pledge week ends. Function it plays in joining people into a real network

YB - not a non seq - WSJ creating a network of paid subscribers. A signal about what kind of person they are. Same thing possible with public television, except not an issue of payment but participation. Not sure if it would capture young people.

HJ: what;s your research showing about what motivates people to join social networks?

YB: not just social networks-- we're slowly coming to accept (loosely defined "we") that academia is dominated by a view of selfish rationality. Shared perception that this is largest modality of perception in social sciences. Image of Alan Greenspan - I relied on self-interest and it failed me. Not to be sneezed at. For me, free software as been particularly powerful in making this argument. Someone who relies on markets
renewed interest in mapping
catalog in an organized way what are human motivations
object is to come up with a sufficient usable set of clusters of human motivators, and then, what do I need to think about - using the terms of gift and worth and the gift economy. Tends to think in terms that are useful but partial. Examples - status, atomistic giving, reputation,
function of social capital - also interpersonal relatedness - a sense of identity
fascinating surveys of free software - why- reputation, expectation of future work, solving a particular problem - easily convertible into a self-interested problem. But, it turns about that people say 75% as a central aspect of their identity, of who they are, fairness, giving back, sheer pleasure, then reputations, etc. need to be part of sociality is important, what's right, fair, reciprocal, etc. Though guilt and shame can be part of it.

HJ: Web 2.0 includes economic motivations on one side and ---- on the other. How might it scrambled?

YB: 2.0 is underspecified as a phenomena. Need to parse things out. Occurs on several levels. On one, many of the platforms in which peer production occurs are themselves commercial organizations. Digg clash over the spread of DVD HD encryption key. Asked to take down, take down, to whom does this belong? It's back up. That tension between a company that's susceptible to suit but is also by its nature people-driven. Platforms that are intended to elicit contributions but the people who developed them are trying to elicit payment. Amazon microturf is not as interesting a social phenomena. The task is tightly specified, the payment is. Can harness a lot of distributed work, but not the same. Wikipedia is the exact opposite platform itself isn't dependent. The governance structure is self-determined. Are these two completely incompatible? Because freesoftware ahead of the rest of activities of distributed action. Beginnings of indications of the solution. Ties closely with HJ's sense of where agency lies over time.

YB Spreadable media as different than stickiness?
Companies like IBM who work a lot on free software...used to manager needing this in the kernel, correct answer for employee is "take a look at this and see if it's good for the kernel." Respecting the boundary of integrity of social process in relation with market process using it precondition of having productive relationship with the social process...
Henry, your thoughts of what it might mean for cultural artifact spreadable, respecting the fans.

HJ Story of YouTube...create a platform. Google buys it. Suddenly major corporation has put a $billion pricetag on the experiences. What does Google own to LonelyGirl15, the cat pictures, boys in their dorm, etc. Visibility created not by YouTube per se but the creators of user generated content. Terranova says Web 2.0 is uncompensated labor, work that's been outsourced, work not paid for. Devastating impact on professional media industries. But should we pay for YouTube? For one group, starving artists, independent filmmakers, etc., who are trying to break into industry, and make money, makes sense. For another group, fan community, making content in a social system of gifts for other fans 20-30 years of ethics against profiting from other fans, money as a motivation will corrupt. Destroy the entire cultural system fandom is based on to do that. Even within fandom...gender dimension. Women unpaid and men paid. The more you dig into it, the more complex the problem becomes. Other side: spreadability. IP as central battleground. For self interest in economics and social interest spreading content confronting industry who see economic benefit from spreading but ambivalence.

YB spreadabilty and creativity is a threat for creators. Then actual creative people who see this model as the model they're used to and are worried about new model. Then non-traditional media companies which specialize in building platforms for users to interact through and they have no interest in continued integrity of old system. In fact, real conflict with it, as stronger copyright law is, the harder for them to work. Fair use industries responsible for major economic growth.

Visual and movies. Substantial social phenomena. Large media companies have to accept and adapt. Have to engage users more. Paying users, I think, is really problematic. Interesting site is MetaCafe in this regard, because one of the things they tried to introduce in the past few years, in trying to separate from YouTube, by paying those who had most viewed videos. is paying Top user $100,000 in last year and a half. The top few people get the majority of the $$$. Bringing super users who are not producers but are reviewers into the selection process. For fan video in particular, might be impossible. But might be a path for those who are professional and willing to live with making less money and more true to their profession by middling platforms like MetaCafe. Concerns about companies abusing them. Trick of putting together platform that answers all their perspective needs is tricky. Need to better understand human motivation.

Ben from the board: Pay Per service. How's it not barter?

YB Don't think it's necessarily true or false but rather more or less useful. How useful is it to think of the relationship between a company that makes money...

Which aspect are we talking about? Between platform and user, relationship--barter means relatively specifiable goods with relatively fuzzy terms with you get this, you get that. Gift, on the other hand, a lack of accounting rather than lack of exchange. Barter is a lack of money but still economic. Individuals who give of creativity to each other without bad feelings toward platform is not barter. The other is another user and not the company. Not sure what barter gives us. Gift does a little better, but even gift has this sense of direct reciprocity. Decades ago talking about open software as cooking pot, I put mine in the stew and it will be really delicious at the end of the day, but we don't keep up with who put what into the stew.

HJ Is status motivation more powerful than economic motivation?

YB One of the remarkable things is how our society, the U.S. in particular, has succeeded in mediating tension between money and status. We measure status in terms of salary. At least one reason for executive pay in U.S. as opposed to other places, is that status reduced to number of zeroes on the end of your 1-9. 19th Century version of amateur vs. professional, where status is opposite of late 20th century. One dimension at which don't think specifically status as understood in American culture isn't what the presence of money disables. Also think, though, while status is important, not the only story of what it is that's happening online. Reputation, yes, but it's also a sense of who I'm with and what I'm doing, and pleasure of what I'm doing, motivations more diverse. Not as much status but reciprocity in danger with the introduction of money. Creating identity is not status but is relational. That's where money really creates the problem. If you introduce money, kill social capital. Something done for money has a harder time being constitutive of identity. Who I am is a unit of production.

HJ Do some jobs lend themselves better to cultural production? Wikipedia, information exchange, vs. entertainment, Entertainment much harder. Journalist from indywire, p2p for documentary vs. indie.

YB Caveat: all those things thought to be not amenable for peer production is. Operating system. Supercomputer. Encyclopedia. The thing that's been critical in terms of structure is degree of modularity. The smaller the contribution...narrative completeness. The written novel being collaborative is difficult when we have a particular idea of the aesthetic, what a novel should be. No generally collaborative editing means. Proprietary platforms for editing. No way to work together in large numbers on the net. First major implementation with Wikipedia, exactly the kind of space you might be able to do it. If in an hour or two, looked at 20 videos, is time spent on entertainment property the full viewing time, times spent on each, etc. Collaborative entertainment for two hours, but not in one cohesive story. We have to define the unit differently. Increments have to be enough to be short story, if not more.

HJ If Fan fiction is peer production. Multiplicity of narratives. In that case, peer production thrives. Only if idea of unified vision of the whole holds strongly...

YB Well, what would you define as the cultural unit? Is it the individual statement in relation to the underlying entertainment product or is it the conversation and the exchange?

HJ Line between creative, writing, talking blurs rapidly, peer production of interest in a property generates interest just as much as fan extensions generates interest. Not creating a product like a wikipedia entry in fan production. If you look at a controversial subject, units with people with very different interpretation. Declare it an entry, but it's actually a series of modular entries. Take that model to fan fiction. You'll see that it's a variety of stories tied loosely together.

YB Tied to research project he's doing at the moment. One of the questions throwing at these sites: are the individual contributions individually valuable modules? Wikipedia is fantastic in many ways, free software programs wonderful in may ways, but both impose requirement of a single cohesive it at the end, i.e. Wikipedia article. The same is not the case in other places...product review. Each one doesn't have to go together, independently meaningful modules more meaningful when they come together. Fans are at the core of this phenomenon, as opposed to distributed mechanics like Amazon when there's no combination

HJ Sharable goods?

YB Sharable goods is a specific economic concepts. IN addition to sharing informational and cultural good, sharing material goods. Puzzle for economics. Problem with information is it's a public good. Once it's created not consumed and no trade-off. When talking about carpooling, etc., more odd than that. Sharable goods are goods that, given the technology of production, comes in mid-grade chunks--small enough to put to own purposes but big enough they have more capacity than needed--carpooling, storage and computation, and so on. In that regard, technical effort to show why a lot of sharing of material goods. Similar to information sharing. The only thing didn't think about then but thinking now is that human labor and attention is sharable good not public good. Our labor is like this, and get into question as to why sharable goods aren't constantly better allocated by market rather than social system. Transaction costs, etc. A certain human capacity to do work, but can't work to that full capacity. Role of social production that takes the hours we all need to socialize and have downtime to understand who we are, and converts them into usable work. Producing cultural goods and not only consuming them.

YB No way in the world to know whether efficient or not.

Mike Arauz: How does this help us see ourselves as the crowd? Participation in these user-powered content environments.

YB Still open but I'm an optimist. My misinterpretation of the role of most consumers of media was one of relative pacifity and relationship to core who determined content and fragmentation of sense of agency in people with regard to cultural environment. Increasingly widespread. Efficacy rather than efficiency to take what I want to do, come together with others, and do it, changes our sense of who the other is, a potential collaborator, potential participant in conversation, I'm a more effective agent because of these potentials. I think we're seeing a potential for increasing personal efficacy and increasing virtues of sociality in opposition to existing and already well known structures of power in society that have existed for long periods. Not a utopia, but a change.