Monday, October 1, 2012

Mass Amateurization

Mass amateurization is the idea of people creating media not for the purpose of getting paid, but for the love and/or interest in its content.  Clay Shirky explains in Here Comes Everybody that professionals are no longer the majority of population's way of receiving news, but more so, social networks like Twitter and Facebook are the replacement.  This change in structure questions the value of the information being received.  Still, Shirky argues that the fact that people are grouping together to display this media without "financial motive" only foreshadows a world where the information that people share will have an enormous amount of value.

He argues that with this change in the distribution of media, we are able to obtain information that may have not been accessible otherwise. ". . .and indeed to all newspapers small and large, was not competition from other newspapers but radical changes in the overall ecosystem of information," (56). The changes in media have taken a lot of the reliability from journalists.  The public is able to spread news before journalists even hear about it.  They are able to publicize information without censorship.  A perfect example is the Neda video.  If it were not for all the camera phones able to video the horrific event, our President would not have gotten word of it so quickly and be able to speak about it the next day. CNN, where we use to get our information would not have image below which was taken by someone who was there with their phone.

From my own experience, I remember over a year ago hearing about a friend of mine who had passed away.  We worked two stores away from each other and I had spoke to him weeks ago and saw him days before.  One day, I really wanted to get in contact with him but his phone was off and he was never at work when I stopped by.  Finally I go on Facebook and there I see someone's status saying "R.I.P. Andrew".  In disbelief, I check other friends pages, I make phone calls, and his death became a reality.  This information of his death would not have been so accessible so quickly if it were not for these social networks.  Through Facebook, I was able to find out when and where his wake was, where his funeral would be held, and I was also able to get in contact with his mother.  A lot of which I would have struggled to get if it were not for this site.

This idea of mass amateurization takes information distribution to a whole other level.  Jenkins also talks about this in his Heather Can Write  chapter. News is not only spread through media, but knowledge as well.  Heather's fan fiction site was a way for people to share interpretations and ideas.  It became a way for people to express feelings they couldn't do elsewhere because the subject was not studied in school and not satisfying to most parents either. "Whether encountered inside or outside formal education, Lawver's project enabled kids to immerse themselves into the imaginary world of Hogwarts and to feel a very real sense of connection to an actual community. . ." It became an escape as well as an institution for those who were very intelligent but just need a topic of interest to release that intelligence.

The future of the media professional will not be obsolete like the scribes but they will become rather scarce.  I believe this because professionals are like teachers.  Yes, students can learn and obtain knowledge from elsewhere but majority will always come back to assure the knowledge or information created or obtained.  Professionals are needed to correct and assure.  They are master at their craft so although they're craft are shared with amateurs, it will never be taken by them because they are only amateurs.

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