Monday, October 1, 2012

Mass Amateurization

With the overwhelming developments of new technologies, the spread of media has changed extraordinarily. From newspapers to radio and from radio to television and finally, from television to internet sensation, this convergence culture has ultimately paved way for a new generation of what Clay Shirkey calls "mass amateurization". In Shirkey’s book “Here Comes Everybody” he stresses the profound impact of the internet, in which has grown into a popular destination for everybody and most importantly, anybody, to publicize anything they wish to. Shirkey writes "the future presented by the internet is the mass amateurization of publishing and a switch from "Why publish this?" to "Why not?" (60)”. The internet has made it possible for anybody to publish even the most insignificant stories that would be made available for a wide array of thousands of viewers to see. From what professionals originally had the privileges to do, the “mass amateurs” are now doing.
From the trending topics on Twitter and the most popular stories on the Facebook newsfeed, it is the capability of any story to be published that has become extraordinaire. Admittedly, I have fallen into this internet sensation in which I retrieve most of my news. For example, in the earthquake that happened last year, I was walking outside with one of my co-workers in Jersey City. As she was skimming through her phone, she asked me if I just felt an earthquake. Looking fondled, I told her that I didn’t and why ask me such a random question when I knew we both did not feel the ground move at all. She told me that it was all over her Facebook news feed, and from there, I looked at my newsfeed, as well as searching for reliable news source. Furthermore, it is not only news such as this that is widespread, but I find that when a sports game is on, all my social websites have become its own little version of ESPN.

I posted this on Facebook a few months ago about a car accident I saw just right outside my job.  This is me being an amateur news reporter/photographer.

However, what happens when the products you see are fabricated truths, resulting deep concerns from higher and more serious authorities? Who are we to trust when the online media does not necessarily promise validity? In a comedic telvision commercial, State Farm puts out a rather amusing thought of online resources, in which the girl claims that everything she retrieves from the internet is true, resulting in finding a date who claims to be a "french model", but actually looks like an ordinary guy.

While the State Farm commercial becomes a comical sense of the internet, other serious results can happen when false information is published. For example, recently a Clark teenager, Kara Alongi, posted a tweet that someone had broken into her home and told her followers to call 911. Dan Goldberg of Star Ledger writes "It was a hoax, but with the help of social media — particularly Twitter — it was a hoax that ensnared hundreds of thousands of people. Clark police received 6,000 calls in about 12 hours about Kara Alongi. That's more than the total number of households in the small Union County municipality. Most were false leads that wasted time and resources". After police investigations, the house seemed to be untouched, and it is the idea that Kara used social media to draw infamous attention on herself that has angered her viewers. For further information on this article, please follow the link:
On the other hand, Henry Jenkins emphasizes a sort of positive realm to mass amateurization in his article “Why Heather Can Write”. With the production of fan fiction such as Harry Potter, the internet has made it possible for children to go beyond their imagination and creativity to construct beautiful stories. It ultimately challenges the education system in which students are limited to their production, but with social blogs, there are no limitations. It is the stepping stone in which children can express themselves through fictional characters and scenes, depicting even their own-selves. "What difference will it make, over time, if a growing percentage of young writers begin publishing and getting feedback on their work while they are still in high school? Will they devlop their craft more quickly? Will they discover their voices at an early age? And what happens when these young writers compare notes, becoming critics, editors, and mentors? Will this help them develop a critical vocabulary for thinking about storytelling? Nobody is quite sure, but the potentials seems enormous "(Jenkins, 187). The potential to be a greater writer grows with the opening of social media blogs. These young new authors are capable of much more than if constrained to academic regulations. 
I confess that I have used such internet social blogs to express myself in ways that I could not have done so in school. If it was one thing that has eased me when I was stressed it was through writing that I found my peace. The fact that I write mostly when I am upset eliminates my ability to write deep thoughts in school assignments for fear of judgment. For example, in high school I gave in a poem to my English teacher as an assignment, resulting in a mandated visit to my guidance counselor because of the implicit message the poem held. 
Social media, in all, from my perspective, does not possess much negativity, but brings out more positive possibilities. While Clay Shirkey would rather leave it up to the professionals, Jenkins emphasizes the potential on what these new authors may become. The internet has become our foundation for information, and it is through this that we are "in-touch" with the outside world. This convergence of technology and media is not the downside to our generation, but I completely believe that its capabilities holds a great amount of potential for future generations.

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