Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book note: Jonas Löwgren and Bo Reimer "Collaborative Media"

A couple of days ago I got the new book by Jonas Löwgren and Bo Reimer "Collaborative Media--production, consumption and design interventions". (Jonas and I have worked together and we published the book "Thoughtful Interaction Design" some years ago.)

I am very excited by this new book from Jonas and Bo. I have yet only read bits and pieces of it, but I can already see the value of their work. The authors make a great argument for the concept of collaborative media that they introduce as more appropriate than the existing concepts used for similar purposes, such as, digital media, social media or new media.

The book consists of three parts. The first is about the phenomena that they study, about definitions, and about how to research such a phenomena. The second part consists of some case studies from their own research practice. The third part contains insights and conclusions about the use and  research of collaborative media. As I would expect from these authors, the writing is clear, nicely structured and with a convincing voice and argumentation. The carefulness with definitions and in the reasoning makes the text enjoyable and exciting to read.

One of the main points and contributions in the book is proposition that to do research about collaborative media requires an interventionist approach. They argue for an integration of "intervention, analysis and criticism". The reasoning is that since researchers are part of an ongoing evolution of this new form of media and whatever they do they will influence and make a difference. This means that researchers have to take a stand, figure out their position and what it is that they are trying to achieve or strive towards with their research.

The authors offers a list of imperatives that define their stance as researchers and their interventionistic and transdisciplinary approach. These five imperatives that are further explained in the book are:
- Be collaborative
- Be interventionist
- Be public
- Be agonistic
- Be accountable

This is an interesting list and it is inspiring to imagine what this means in practice and also what it would mean in other research disciplines. The book is rich when it comes to insights about collaborative media in our contemporary society, but maybe even more interesting is the overall research stance and approach that the authors outline and subscribe to. The way they do this is unusually detailed and on a level that raises it to become a research "program" or paradigm. I expect and hope that this aspect of the book will receive the substantial interest it deserves and also will lead to engaging critique. This field is in real need of larger ideas when it comes to what the purpose of research is all about and how it is possible for researchers to "keep up" with and participate in the evolution of media.

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