"Our social tools remove older obstacles to public expression, and thus remove the bottlenecks that characterized mass media. The result is the mass amateurization of efforts previously reserved for media professionals" (Shirky 55)
What Shirky is sayinng in the preface of this chapter is that, with the abundance of technology that it at the fingertips of the vast majority of the planet, is that you no longer necessarily have to being trained to be a journalist or a musician or photographer. All you need is a smartphone or internet access and the desire to cause a stir, which is what Greg Caggiano, a former writer for the Bleacher Report and current freelancer decided to do with his "social media experiment" over the summer.
Photo courtesy of Greg Caggiano
He sent out this tweet on July 9th, knowing that it wasn't true to see the reaction that it would get and sure enough, his Twitter page was innodated with request for more info and updates on this situation. Soon Caggiano fessed up to the prank which a lot of people but found its story being told on Yahoo!'s hockey blog, Puck Daddy with its editor, Greg Wyshynski saying that "Congrats to Caggiano for finally proving Twitter is a cesspool for hasty reactions and acceptance of faulty sources. Because, you know, that needed a 100,000th validation." Shirky echoes this with his quote "The individual weblogs are not merely alternate sites of publishing; they are alternatives to publishing itself, in the sense of publishers as a minority and professional class. In the same way you do not have to be a professional driver to drive, you no longer have to be a professional publisher to publish." (Shirky 66.)
Another area of mass amateurization is the idea of fan fiction witch Henry Jenkins writes ab out in his essay " Why Heather Can Write". In the essay, Jenkins points out a girl named Heather Lawver,a home-schooled student who has been writing fan-fiction based off of her favorite book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, more specifically a fictional newspaper for the fictional town of Hogwarts called The Daily Prophet and the copyright battles that some fan fiction writers have to face .
Most people who are against the idea of fan fiction say that the kids who write fanfiction are "copying preexisting media content rather than creating their original works" (Jenkins 190) but Jenkins counters with the notion that "instead one should think of their appropriations as a kind of apprenticeship. Historically, young artists learned from established masters, sometimes contributing to the older artist's works, often following their patterns, before they developed their own styles and techniques" (Jenkins 190). The use of samples, loops and instrumental/vocal tracks in hip hop and rap music is also comparable to the idea of fan fiction if you want to go with Jenkins' idea.
Ultimately, Jenkins feels that that what Heather and all fan fiction writers are doing is challenging the ideals and boundaries of media and culture. "They (fan fiction writers) are active participants in these new media landscapes, finding their own voice through their participation in fan communities, asserting their own rights even in the face of powerful entities, and sometimes sneaking behind their parents' back to do what feels right to them" (Jenkins 216)
I think that the band Against Me! sums up the idea of mass amateurization the best in their song "New Wave" which is about taking back over different mediums of art that are now found systematic or boring. The lyrics of the song are a call to arms as it were for people to pick up where their favorite artists left off, which is what fan fiction does and what other forms of mass amateurization like blogs and podcast stations do.