'Prosumption': Why just about everybody unwittingly works for free

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  • RickChappell Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 24, 2013 10:56 p.m.

    The author also seems to have a pretty odd take on the workforce and value. The best analogy off the top of my head is that we are depriving butlers of jobs because we don't all hire them. Self checkouts are temporary, because soon the products will have an RFID or similar label and will scan when you leave the store. Do I want somebody to manhandle all of the stuff I'm buying just because we didn't previously have the ability? No way. Not only do I not want to pay for unnecessary salaries, but waiting for someone else to do it costs their time and mine while I sit there waiting for them to do it. It's got nothing to do with me working for the store.
    Before Ikea and it's ilk, we didn't build furniture because it required specialized skills and knowledge. Now the specialized skills are put in up front to where anyone can do it.

  • RickChappell Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 24, 2013 10:46 p.m.

    I think the author completely misses the mark in several areas. First off, the term "prosumer" is not new and has been around quite a while - but not as he puts it. It's the combination of professional and consumer, and it describes the consumers having the ability - through software, ability, etc. - to do professional level work. For example, a home musician today can have very cheaply equipment that rivals the finest studios just a few years ago and are producing work with the quality we would normally attribute to professional studios.
    Secondly, it's not at all about working for free. The restaurant in question - you don't go there to buy a meal. You go there for a specific experience - usually a social experience. If you're looking at the cost of the components and labor alone, very few restaurants could be justified. Additionally, the situation will often provide people with a setting, equipment and ingredients they might not readily have at home and allow them to do participate in something they might not otherwise be able to do.

  • thedavidpearson Flagstaff, AZ
    Sept. 24, 2013 9:59 p.m.

    Very interesting article. I wanted to point out to your editors, however, that it is inappropriate to capitalize danah boyd's name. She has requested that media outlets refer to her without capitalization for a variety of reasons. It is even made very clear on her website, which you link to as well.

  • GoatHerder Draper, Ut, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 4:26 p.m.

    This is back in the day when we called them "Service Stations". There used to be profit from providing such services. Now the the Government has gotten involved, nationalized, taxed and regulated it. Now there is little profit in just offering gas. Service stations have turned into gas stations where we can purchase soda, snacks and other items. Thanks Big Brother.

  • Betcha Waltham, MA
    Sept. 24, 2013 2:57 p.m.

    There used to be a time, when doing it yourself would save you some money, but not anymore, I pump my own gas, I bag my own groceries , I make my own salad's , get all my own food at a buffet restaurant . Wow, we really are an independent Nation!!

  • techpubs Sioux City, IA
    Sept. 24, 2013 1:47 p.m.

    When this started it was a good way to save a little money. As I recall I could pay $0.72/gal and pump my own or pay $0.75/gal for full service. Eventually, the full service went away and once again we paid a single price/gal. with no indication that we were actually saving or that the owner was making more. When you look at big retail WalMart promoted the idea of self-checkouts so you wouldn't have to wait in line. You not only check and bag your purchase, you also pay for it. Target on the other hand still uses only cashiers for this service and the prices on many items are nearly identical.
    In the end we are being asked to help them eliminate a few employees so the owner can increase his/her profits while we do the work.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 11:18 a.m.

    When I was at the airport in Denver I actually would have liked a self-serve restaurant when I could pick the ingredients and make something myself. I could not find one place that served at least something that was healthy aside from overpriced fruit.

    We as customers obviously do not mind the self-serve. If we did, we would go somewhere else, and the laws of supply and demand would create enough of those places.

    Another point - do you realize what kind of mess it creates when you have to depend on a clerk to serve you items at a grocery store? When I lived in the Soviet Union you could wait in line for three hours to buy a pound of cheese. Not because there was not enough of it but because there were too many people for just one slow clerk.

  • bricha lehi, ut
    Sept. 23, 2013 10:10 p.m.

    Wow can you say making mountains out of molehills. So Facebook should hire a team of writers to write all of our posts!?! Or we shouldn't be allowed to shop for the perfect orange, we should let someone else pick it for us. What a bunch of rubbish.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 7:23 p.m.

    Guess the prosperity we enjoy from capitalism and free enterprise is bad.

  • southmtnman Provo, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 6:47 p.m.

    So what is a "conducer?"

    I wanna' be one of those!

  • MiddleRight Orem, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 5:23 p.m.

    When I went to Oregon, I had to let someone fill my car. No consumer was allowed to pump their own gas. I hated it. I actually tried to get out of the state before filling up that last time because of how inconvenient it was. They did not clean your windshield or check your oil or any of those things we once did at Service Stations. I know there are a few stations around that will service those who need it, and that's good, but I wouldn't go there.

    This whole article sounds like a reporter got together with a Union agent.

    A few good facts, a lot of really twisted facts and then mixed with pure baloney.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 4:14 p.m.

    My guess is that, as in virtually every other question of supply and demand, there will come a point where the real and perceived value of "prosumption" will decline to the point where what we some of still consider to be valuable (paying for a product/service provided by someone else that one is not interested in providing for oneself) will return and, in time, prevail.

    The bottom line to all sorts of "trends" like these is that common sense always, ultimately, prevails.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    Sept. 23, 2013 3:18 p.m.

    Prosumtion works well when you are young and in good health. However, older and/or disabled individuals learn to appreciate a certain level of customer service. For them, do-it-yourself can be quite painful.

  • I-am-I South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 2:08 p.m.

    I like the trend in that it keeps costs down I hate that it is causing the death of customer service. While the article suggests that prosumtion doesn't really save you money that is incorrect for a couple reasons. (1) The things prosumption costs us we tend to have in abundance or have the ability to get more readily than the extra money it would cost to have the retailers do it for us. In this sense it saves us money. (2) We have to remember that stores charge mark ups on everything they do. So prosumption theoretically offers us wholesale prices on the extra services that have traditionally been associated with retail goods. The restaurant thing I don't understand.

  • Daniel Leifker San Francisco, CA
    Sept. 23, 2013 1:40 p.m.

    I like the trend, but I may draw the line at prosumptive open-heart surgery.

  • SoCal Roger Costa Mesa, CA
    Sept. 23, 2013 11:30 a.m.

    I have always been aware of "prosumption". It is very interesting how it is creeping into society. I do have one beef though about "prosumption". I can bag my own items at Home Depot or even Ikea, but I just hate to bag my own items at the grocery store.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 11:18 a.m.

    My experience with this concept while living in Japan is quite different. There, a lot of people still fill these jobs. For example, there is a full time guy watching the bikes at the train station. Another guides you around an entrance to a construction site. That's his job all day. A few filling stations still have a number of people who clean your windows inside and out and empty your ashtray and stop traffic so you can get out when done. You can't buy something at a shop that might be a gift that won't be wrapped perfectly; they hire people to do that. But, and this is a big one, you pay for it dearly. And, I couldn't help but feel these people were underemployed. Could you make a living wage there wrapping gifts? I don't know. One thing, though, is that you often have to cook your own ingredients at your table when at a restaurant. It's part of the social experience of getting together, and it's a wonderful idea.