Monday, October 1, 2012

Shirky's "Mass Amateurization"

In Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody, Shirky describes the term mass amateurization as the process by which large groups of ordinary people take advantage of new advances in technology to create materials that was once only done by professionals. As opposed to professionals who get paid, these large groups of people are motivated by other reasons other than money, and use any new technology as a means to achieve it. With this wave of mass amateurization, professionals are being replaced, but new kinds of jobs are being created.

"A profession becomes, for its members, a way of understanding their world. Professionals see the world through a lens created by other members of their profession... largely about recognition from other professionals." (Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, pg 58)

Shirky points out that at the beginning of the modern period in history, Gutenberg's printing press replaced the jobs of scribes. The ability to read and write was now made possible to the masses and as Shirky says, "... the scribe's skills were eminently replaceable, and his function, -making copies of books- was better accomplished by ignoring tradition than by embracing it." (Pg 67)

In today's post modern period, we are seeing the same changes take place with the growth of the internet and social media. In terms of social networks like Facebook or Twitter, people get together and form groups. Anyone with access to Internet can take part and are able to share information about themselves, the things they like or dislike, post pictures, and share other types of information with millions of people. We are provided with a broad range of information from people from all over the world, totally redefining the meaning of being someone's "friend."

There are new aspects of learning with the information overload that is provided to us in terms of social media. For example, I was just acquainted with twitter not too long ago. If something that was going on around me caught my attention, I used to get information by "google"ing (Once again, is google a verb now or what?) whatever what happening. It wasn't until a friend of mine showed me how to use hashtags and read what everyone said about the hashtag. It changed the way that I get my information, and it makes it so much easier to obtain.

With that said, I believe that "With great technology comes great responsibility." Given that everyone can post whatever their heart desires online, one must be very careful of how they use it.  Just yesterday I read about the trending story of a NJ girl who used twitter to say that someone was at her house, and to call 911. She gained hundreds of followers and people re-twitted the message and even created a hashtag for her. Today, we find out that it was all a hoax.( Story if you're interested.)

Given that anyone is capable of creating news and become a reporter. Negatively -as Kara did with her fake story- or positively -as the person who filmed the Neta video-, anyone can create and post. This does not make the person a professional reporter, but gives the person the capability of doing the task that a professional reporter does.  

I am unsure of what the future of the media professional has in store. I do however, see the media professional grow hand in had with future technological advances, like the professionals who shifted to TV when radio was introduced, etc. While it is true that anyone can pick up a camera and begin to shoot footage,  it takes a professional with a high level of skill to transmit a compelling message. 

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