Bjarki Valtýsson is currently a PhD student and part-time lecturer at the Department of Communication, Business and Information Technologies, at Roskilde University in Denmark.
Master in Modern Culture and Cultural Communication from the University of Copenhagen and Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature and Icelandic Philology. My field of research is cultural policy, media and communication policy, digital communication and new media, the experience society, Web 2.0 and performance studies.
The remixable culture of prosumers and the role of public libraries
Cultural participation and cultural production has changed concomitant with the development of Web 2.0. Users are taking advantage of Web 2.0’s self-publishing characteristics, either by remixing digital products, or by creating their own. These uploads are only a mouse-click away from the vast distribution potentials of the Internet, and as for instance platforms like YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and Flickr demonstrate, people are creating cultural material and distributing them, to a degree that has never been seen before. This cultural behaviour, or this kind of cultural users, have been called prosumers, referring to the fact that they do not only consume, but also produce. The fact that people, or prosumers, create as well as consume, is not particularly new in itself, but what is new is the sheer amount, volume and distribution potentials that these cultural productions generate. Furthermore, what is also new is the very nature of these productions as many of them are digital remixes, which in many cases fringe copyright requirements, scramble the concepts of authorship, aesthetics, ethics, commerce, cultural governance and the cultural identity of the participating public.
As it is inscribed in the role of public libraries to react and adjust to new developments in society, they also have to make up their minds concerning reactions towards the remixable culture of prosumers, and the cultural production and consumption that this culture is currently generating. In this paper and presentation, it is my intention to account for the impact that such culture is capable of having on the future role of public libraries, drawing on the theories of for instance Jürgen Habermas, Manuel Castells and Lev Manovich, and analysing the example of the Digital Library Europeana, that is currently being prepared by the European Union, and will be formerly launched in November 2008.