Monday, October 1, 2012

Post 2 - Mass Amateurization

     “Mass amateurization”, described by Clay Shirky, is the process in which professionals merge with amateurs or “beginners”. This is the idea that professionals who were hired for specific jobs such as publishing or journalism are now joining together with regular everyday citizens. These professionals were once employed based on the “scarcity” of people knowledgeable and experienced in the field (that field being scribes as Shirky mentioned, publishers, journalists, etc). As Shirky mentions in Chapter 3 Everyone is a Media Outlet “Mass amateurization is a result of the radical spread of expressive capabilities” meaning that the dichotomy of professionals and citizens has now become a harmonic, singular group of people because now everyone has knowledge and access to publishing. fucked-up-citizen-journalismrosie_the_blogger                     
     An example of mass amateurization through my own experience is the production of videos as part of a crew that composes a weekly, live morning news shows. The crew that produces this morning show is comprised of Rutgers University students ranging from the ages of 17 to 21. We are able to create segments and broadcast them. There are no government officials monitoring what we release and there are no professional journalists or news broadcasters that do our job for us. This experience illuminates the idea of mass amateurization.

     A few years ago the only media society was able to watch, in America, was that produced of well-known networks such as ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, etc. Those networks hired staffs well educated and well experienced in the field of broadcast. As Shirky states: “Globally free publishing is making public speech and action more valuable, even as its absolute abundance diminishes the specialness of professional publishing”. Now a day, it is the public or viewers that, with an insignificant cost, can produce and broadcast any kind of video they want. These viewers, much like my crew, take the role of professionals without the experience, title, or pay of one. 

     Another example in which we see mass amateurization is through Henry Jenkins’ writing Why Heather Can Write. Here Jenkins tells us the story of a fan-fiction website where children write posts on a blog dealing with Harry Potter. Through threats of law suits, the Harry Potter books being temporarily banned, and other issues, these group of children were able to write and critique writings of other children to publish on a website. Here we see the epitome of mass amateurization. Not only have regular citizens been blending into the world of professionals, but also children are able to publish their own writings on websites. J.K Rowling was not needed in the fans’ production of The Daily Prophet. The children were able to make free and enjoyable publications for all to see. Screenshot2012-09-29at121206AM-1Screenshot2012-09-29at121244AM-1

     Jenkins writes: “Ten years ago, published fan fiction came mostly from women in their twenties, thirties, and beyond. Today, these older writers have been joined by a generation of new contributor kids who found fan fiction surfing the Internet and decided to see what they could produce”. Here we are able to see the ultimate merging of professionals with age and experience with children who are inexperienced yet thrive at producing Internet based content. Another example of children merging with professionals is through the class discussion of Mary, a nine year old who blogged about her school lunches. Mary would take pictures of her lunch at school and then post it on a blog. She began to get a large audience of readers, and when her school banned her from posting pictures of her school lunches that large audience spoke in outrage. Such a situation illuminates the power of the now meshed group of publishers.

    Even though technology is always advancing, this gives more reason to believe that some professionals might always have an impression on society. Even though people are meshing with professionals this does not mean that professionals are not regarded anymore. In order to grow in an ever technology advancing world their must be a “blueprint” or “model” to serve as the base of a concept. Online publishers are online publishers because they based what they wanted to do from an author. Citizen journalists are citizen journalists because they regarded reporters, saw what they did and did not like, and thus built their own dimension in media. Society has progressed using media and their own forms of publishing because they wanted to imitate professionals or wanted to critique professionals. Therefore, no matter how advanced regular citizens become with publishing and producing, the model of a professional will always exist.

     Shirky and Jenkins suggest the main topic of mass amateurization – the blending of professionals with inexperienced citizens. They elucidate the idea of a diminishing “scarcity” of knowledge in certain fields and a shift from professionals being the main outlet to citizens and professionals being a unitary outlet. What we can expect from these new authors is that it will be easier to receive information and read about certain topics a lot more easily and without having to depend on a professional.

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