Let X equal product, and Let Ara equal Artefact.

Ara and X.

An Artefact, and A Product.

Project Ara, by it’s very nature is a temporary artefact. Considering Brun’s four key characteristics of produsage (Bruns 2007), a Project Ara device is an artefact which is always unfinished, evolutionary, iterative and palimpsestic. It’s a device, built using many different electropermanent magentic modules on a skeleton, and it is forever changing, responding to the feedback of the consumer constantly. It is produced by it’s own user, tested by the user, and continually readjusted by the user.


In the image above (Bohn 2014) is a Project Ara device displaying it’s exposed skeleton and a displaced module.

There is an SDK for Developers to develop modules. Google has opened the entire Project to everyone, and it runs the most open mobile OS of them all – Android. This is a medium, a media platform which in it’s own right is completely and utterly lending itself to produsage.

In contrast, is Nokia X. This is a device which is closed in it’s development. Nokia controls everything. There is no open source collaboration, no evolutionary “ever changing” nature, no movement of produsers between roles of user, participant & leader, and no community wide development shifting away from dedicated teams. This is commercial. A consumption device.

However, what does it lend itself to? Sure these are two different approaches. But, their real value lies in their enabling power. What do they allow people to do?

Essentially they are both designed to be a cheap way for people in third world countries to take part in dialogic, new media. To open up the world, and allow people to participate. To come into the conversation.


Google 2014, Project Ara MDK, projectara.com, viewed 28 April 2014, <http://www.projectara.com/mdk/&gt;.

Bruns, A 2007, Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation., Proceedings Creativity & Cognition 6, Washington DC.

Bohn 2014, Building blocks: how Project Ara is reinventing the smartphone, http://www.theverge.com, viewed 28 April 2014, <http://www.theverge.com/2014/4/15/5615880/building-blocks-how-project-ara-is-reinventing-the-smartphone&gt;.

Bohn 2014, DSC_4824-2040_verge_super_wide.jpg, image, http://www.theverge.com, viewed 28 April 2014, <http://cdn3.vox-cdn.com/entry_photo_images/10115069/DSC_4824-2040_verge_super_wide.jpg&gt;.

Nokia 2014, Nokia X Products, nokia.com, viewed 28 April 2014, <http://www.nokia.com/global/products/nokia-x/&gt;.