Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Our Brave, Bold Future

           There’s a much deeper connection to Clay Shirky’s concept of “Mass Amatuerization” and the ideas brought forth in Henry Jenkin’s “Why Heather Can Write” After reading both articles, I notice that there is this idea of an evolving collective consciousness rooted in independent thought and freedom of expression. As old media “gatekeepers,” lose their ability to control the exchange of ideas, the individual is granted the ability to think outside of formally recognized parameters.

            Shirky explains, “The increase in the power of both individuals and groups, outside traditional organizational structures, is unprecedented.” (Shirky 107) To understand the basis of this argument, it is important to explain Shirky’s idea of “Mass Amateurization."It is the ability to distribute and create media in ways traditionally reserved for those labeled as "professionals." This notion of “Mass Amateurization,” also speaks to an amateur’s ability to distribute this content without oversight by a “gatekeeper,” an individual or collective with the ability to censor content for private but not limited to commercial interest. In other words, content is created and published without moderation.
Women using their cellphones during the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. (via The New Republic)

             To the same extent, Jenkin’s “Why Heather Can Write,” also illicits a similar argument, Jenkin’s states, “Our notion of fair use is an artifact of an era when few people had access to the marketplace of ideas, and those who did fell into certain professional classes.” (Jenkins 198)  Jenkin’s understanding of the fan-fiction author relationship not only serves to advance individual skills outside of conventional institutions, in this case, school, but to put into question our established notions of intellectual property, freedom of thought, and ability to understand one’s limitations.

             As journalism major, I am always thrilled when empowered with the perspective of an embedded reporter. I always think to myself, “Those people are absolutely crazy.” There is something so valiant, so noble and exciting about a human being heading into a dangerous situation to report on the status of a war or mass revolt. Today, across the globe, we are now enabled to tell similar stories. No longer is the reporter our single source of knowledge about the human condition.

Dan Rather reporting from Vietnam in 1966. (via Electronic House)

                  For the media professional, he must evolve with technology to educate others about our human experience. Recently, I found myself reading through Henry Thoreau’s, “On Civil Disobedience,” and I couldn’t help but to question the amount of progress we’ve made as a society and question if the proliferation of technology is powerful enough to spread ideas rooted in sympathy. How much does mankind have to pay in human and intellectual capital before unjust oppression is eliminated? The media professional did not stop the Holocaust, neither did the telephone. The Rwandan genocide occurred despite advances to the Internet and satellite broadcast systems. To create change in this world and function as a professional, those working in media must internalize and advocate positive influence to raise our collective intelligence.

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