Monday, October 1, 2012


According to Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody, Shirky defines mass amateurization as a result of the radical spread of expressive capabilities. What he means by this is that everyday people, instead of publishing professionals, are creating new roles for themselves and now basically anyone with a computer and connection to the Internet can produce their ideas/information and can distribute it instantly with just a click of a button to millions of viewers.

Mass amateurization has given the average Internet user a voice. For example, mobile devices are outlets to connect to anyone across the world. Someone can pick up their iPhone, take video of them cooking their mother’s recipes and share it on YouTube and have more than a 100,000 views in less than an hour. Shirky refers to this as “mass amateurization of publishing". “Digital means of distributing words and images have robbed newspapers of the coherence they formerly had, revealing the physical object of the newspaper as a merely provisional solution; now every article is its own section” (59). The Internet has advanced much more than just technology; it has changed the operation of newspapers, television, and radio. The Web essentially created a new ecosystem. Mass amateurization has brought up a very important question and Shirky wants to know, since users can publish anything they want, what will happen if there’s nothing unique about publishing anymore?
Information used to be distributed only by the professionals. The publishers and corporations controlled the flow of information. These professionals were the gatekeepers who simultaneously provided and controlled access to information, entertainment, communication, or other ephemeral goods. People can share their ideas on these weblogs without any restriction compared to print publishing. What used to be constricted to only the professionals, now everyday users are able to publish anything and have it available for thousands of viewers to view and share. For example, the social networking website Twitter, allows anyone to create an account and write messages of up to 140 characters, referred to as “tweets”.

On my personal twitter page, I have 505 followers. Although, most of the information I post is insignificant, I have taken the role of a gatekeeper to my followers. The information I share can be discussed, dissected, debated, predicted, and critiqued by anyone. For example, the day of pop singer, Whitney Houston’s funeral, I was able to watch the news coverage of her funeral on TV while I was on twitter. I happened to look out of my dorm room window, when I saw the hearse that carried Houston’s body, along with several police cars following. I was able to capture a picture of the hearse and police and shared it on my Twitter feed, I was able to let my followers know that I was in the area and basically I was amateur news reporter/photographer to my followers. I felt like I participated in a way.
According to Jenkins’ chapter Why Heather Can Write, “In a participatory culture, the entire community takes on some responsibility for helping newbies find their way” (187). He discusses the benefits of mass amateurization and how fan participation/fan fiction was discovered on the Internet. These communities opened a new culture for users allowing them to become the authors instead of just the readers. These sites allowed users to submit their own work and receive feedback that would only improve their writings. “Authorship has an almost sacred aura in a world where there are limited opportunities to circulate your ideas to a larger public” (187). The Internet is evolving into a new era where bloggers can become authors/journalists. 

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