Am I the only one who thought Mark Deuze's essay was a little weak? And this despite the fact that I agreed with a lot of his conclusions -- I just wanted him to take it further. Take his case studies, in which he cherry-picks four examples that support his argument and presents them as more "symptomatic" than "representative," without ever exploring whether less optimistic examples might be equally symptomatic of the industry climate he describes. While I won't dispute that his examples are symptomatic of the merging of media consumption and production processes, I think his argument is incomplete without an examination of the equally symptomatic negative effects.
Sure, Bluffton Today merged a daily paper and community news site to create a participatory, transparent news product. But what about papers like The Washington Post, which has significantly increased user-generated content both online and in the hard copy of the paper (with blogs, online chats, contests and sections like the XX update in the magazine, which reproduces content generated on the XX Factor website) and is still hemorrhaging money and subscribers? The creation of Counter-Strike is an uplifting example of collaborative work to improve a popular gaming program, but there's a fine line between modification and piracy and there's plenty of evidence that not all game modifiers are as conscientious as Minh Le and Jess Cliff.
As for the Amazon case study, I found it a little baffling. Was he really suggesting that Amazon's popularity is partially due to its enabling people to upload product photos? Or its supposedly unique customer-first attitude? There are plenty of online marketers with great customer service, and an unscientific study of people in the room with me suggests that user-empowerment ranks well below size, comprehensiveness and price in terms of Amazon's attractive qualities. The CPB group has had tremendous success with its interactive campaigns, but the same technology that enables so much of this interactive advertising can also be turned against a product, as when Chevrolet created an interactive campaign where people could create mashups of previous Tahoe ads to promote the 2007 Tahoe SUV. It was pulled days later, after the site was flooded with anti-SUV ads.
Ultimately, I have no qualms with Deuze's main arguments. The boundaries between makers and users of media products are blurring. Consumer empowerment and corporate profit-seeking are both features of this developing environment. New media are unpredictable and constantly evolving. But I think in Deuze's failure to examine any but "best practice" examples, he missed an opportunity to explore the greater complexities of this changing media environment.