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Media apprentices and practitioners

December 5, 2008

Post to EASA Media Anthropology Network mailing list discussion following the Barcelona workshop on cultural producers and media practices

When speaking of practitioners within a given professional or occupational field I think it’s important to distinguish between what we might call apprentices (e.g. PhD students, or trainee journalists) and established practitioners. Perhaps my use of the phrase [in a previous mailing list post] ‘establish and maintain a foothold’ was misleading. I should’ve spoken of individuals who want to develop a dual career and earn a living as both media practitioners and international academics, which strikes me as a very difficult thing to do.

Last year I attended a workshop on ‘peer production’ at Nottingham Trent University (UK) in which a researcher called Tere Vaden presented his findings about the career paths of free/open source workers in Finland. He found a lot of fluidity and idealism and digital bohemia among young programmers in their 20s, but for those in their 30s with families to build, the economic imperatives came first. To quote Vaden:

“Celebrators of flux or prophets of cybercommunism: hackers still need to eat and need electricity for their machines of immaterial labour. If we analyse the current trends in some of the crown-jewels of the free/open source movement, such as GNU/Linux development and the Wikipedia, we quickly notice that not only is a new ethics or mode of knowledge production initiated but also very old-fashioned trends of profit-making and colonialisation of knowledge are reasserted.”

See subsequent discussion in mailing list archives

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