Mirko Tobias Schafer, Bastard Culture! How User Participation Transforms Cultural Production

249 pages

249 pages, Amsterdam University Press, 2011, English, ISBN-13: 978-9089642561
Internet has been since the beginning of its commercial diffusion a popular medium, but only recently has there been a rising interest in its own internal social dynamics, including its folklore and how it has radically reshaped the relationship between production and consumption. This relationship is still evolving, with a massive online participation that the author defines as both “explicit” and “implicit”. Self-organized communities on the web are the protagonists of explicit participation, sometimes making very large scale projects possible, especially in the domain of software – as in the case studies analyzed here: the Xbox-Linux-Project and the Aibo-Hack. These reflect the best hacker spirit, questioning the role of software in what the author defines as “stimulating or repressing various media practice.” Implicit participation refers to industry-controlled user generated content, as in all the major web 2.0 icons like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, etc., who are creating “mass commodities.” In this sense, the author’s definition of a “bastard” culture, and the implicit need for it, especially pertaining to explicit participation, is certainly a timely one. It communicates both the beautiful cultural cross-breeding and the attractive unpredictability of the process and outcome. The author develops a discourse on participatory culture, clarifying the differences among the mechanisms of creating knowledge for those from the “maker” generation, in order to let them take their pick. Coherently, the text is licensed under Creative Commons.