Defining characteristics of new models of information production
The internet has provided a platform for the emergence of new models of information production such as wikis, blogs, podcasts, social networking sites and search engines. De Saulles (2012) in documenting how the internet and mass computing has created new models of information production provides a succinct overview of the defining characteristics which contribute to these new models.
De Saulle (2012) classifies these new models of information production into evolutionary and revolutionary models. Specifically, some have evolved from analogue technologies such as blogs or podcasts from newspapers and radio, while others have revolutionised the way information is produced, delivered, data mined and distributed such as Wikipedia and Google.
Bloggers, tweeters and Facebook friends are collaborators and creators of content in real-time. These new models all share common defining characteristics such as providing users with immediate access to information, and inviting them to co-create and collaborate in the creation of content. News blogs for example, invite readers to respond to and contribute their views and opinions as the news is happening, readers are collaborators and creators of content in real-time. Compare this with print-based newspapers where contributions are submitted via letters to the editor. Opinions published are usually selected as representative of the letters submitted and usually published as a commentary on a past event.
News blogs are also responsive in real-time to changes and shifts in the information delivered, shared or generated. David Gilbertson CEO of Emap aptly describes the shift these new models have ushered in for businesses and information providers alike as a shift “from provision of information to providing intelligence” (Bintliff, 2011
The Huffington Post is an example of this new model of information production with an estimated 113 million unique visitors. Since De Saulle’s book published four years previously, new competitors have entered the production market place in BuzzFeed and Vice Media (James, 2015).
Communities, data exhaust, reputation and privacy
The blog GigaOm sees blogs as “hubs of business communities” (De Saulle, 2012, p.22). This sense of community is not unique to blogs, wikis and social networking platforms also create communities who support and contribute information. Complementary and competing “publics” can form around social networking sites such as Twitter around hashtags (Bruns and Burgess, 2011).
However, these sites also generate information from the activity of their community members. Sites such as Facebook generate data as part of the activities of the social connections that take place. Our profile which we set up when we register provides rich data for profiling us, as does memberships to blogs and microblogs such as Twitter, and online stores. The data in Facebook is updated in real-time through the social activities in which we post, share, comment and upload personal details of our daily lives. As ad hoc publics form, disband and reform on Twitter follower/followee relationships also generate data around interests, relationships and political persuasion (Bruns & Burgess, 2011). Further, the algorithms used by Twitter “profoundly shapes the results that users see” by generating a list of ‘Top Tweets’. How are these judgements determined which influence what we will follow?
Challenges that these models present to educators and information professionals
As educators and information professionals, the challenges we face are around teaching and modelling best practice engagement with these new information production models to our students and peers. Issue such as privacy, reputation and the digital footprint we leave are important considerations which we need not only to navigate, but also teach. While Facebook captures and distributes data on a personal level, Google is able to understand our online behaviour as part of a section of the global community. Even how we search and retrieve information is open to scrutiny. With opportunities to collaborate and generate content, new fluencies alongside traditional literacy is needed for learners to contribute and express themselves on these new models of information production (Crockett, Jukes, Churches, 2011).
The expectation and demand created by the internet for free and instant access to information by consumers is also challenging traditional ideas around legitimate and authoritative information sources. Given the dynamic, collaborative and flexible way in which content is created on blogs and by information producers such as Wikipedia, educators at schools and universities are faced with the challenge of whether to endorse the use of content from these sites (De Saulle, 2012, p.23).
Bintliff, E. (2011). Emap boosted by online ‘intelligence’. Retrieved from http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d8dcaf2a-2ca8-11e0-83bd-00144feab49a.html#axzz4FQ0d2Mdm
Bruns, A. & Burgess, J.E. (2011). Twitter hashtags from ad hoc to calculated publics. Retrieved from http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d8dcaf2a-2ca8-11e0-83bd-00144feab49a.html#axzz4FQ0d2Mdm
Crocket, L., Jukes, I. & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st century fluencies for the digital age. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: 21st Century Fluency Project
De Saulle, M. (2012). Information 2.0: New models of information production and consumption. London: Facet.
James, Brendan. (2015, October 15). Huffington Post’s US traffic tanks in 2015, as BuzzFeed and Vice Media grow [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.com/huffington-posts-us-traffic-tanks-2015-buzzfeed-vice-media-grow-2142607