In Clay Shirky’s chapter, Everyone is a Media Outlet, he describes his concept of mass amateurization and how society has changed vastly because of it. As technology has advanced from times of scribes and extremely time-consuming methods of copying information to the Digital Age in which we now live, the publishing industry has taken immense threat courtesy of the Internet’s ease of accessibility, inexpensiveness, and global reach.
Clay Shirky’s theory of mass amateurization suggests that the Internet has made it possible for anyone who has the resources available to become an amateur at what once used to be highly regarded professions. Shirky stated that “ Most professions exist because there is a ascarece resource that requires ongoing management”(Shirky 57). But, the tables have turned and professions that were once in high demand are now suffering at the mercy of the Internet. And along with this comes a shift in power from the professionals to the amateurs giving the majority the upper hand.
Shirky argues that the outcome of this is the cause of the lower standards. Surely, with professionalism comes higher standards, but now that the game has changed, people have the freedom to publish almost any material they want regardless of the quality.
I myself have been affected by this theory of mass amateurization, in fact, in high school at the end of the school year, my graphic design teacher taught me how to design my own website and post all of my projects there. In this small scale, I was able to become a published graphic designer, although I was still amateur.
Why Heather Can Write by Henry Jenkins highlights Clay Shirky’s theory of mass amateurization when he tells the story of a young girl who wrote her own fan fiction blog and became very popular because of it. Children playing a role in mass amateurization, is evidence that this shift in power is indeed real. A young girl whose talent went unnoticed has been given the chance to write for not only her own peers but to anyone who has access to her blog. This is a clear example that’ll tell you about the direction that society is heading in and the future of the media professional. As Shirky noted, Scribes of older generations “no longer performed an irreplaceable service. Despite the replacement of their core function, however the scribes’ sense of themselves as essential remained undiminished” (Shirky 68). I believe that the media professional will follow this same path as scribes did in the 1400’s, they will not disappear but they will still indeed be essential to society.