Monday, October 1, 2012

The Idea of "Mass Amateurization" As It Is

         It is evident that, with the abundance of technological advancements in social media, there has been a noticeably significant change within the potential, availability, and overall power within individual expression. All common people have a voice, but what becomes fascinating in today's day and age, is the fact that within seconds, this "voice" can be heard, seen, and exposed to the entire world. As this occurrence has progressed, the idea of mass amateurization has inevitably been adopted.   In Everyone Is A Media Outlet, Clay Shirky explores the idea and how advancements in the world wide web have undoubtedly triggered an immense shift in our current world of mass/social media.
         As Shirky discusses the idea of mass amateurization, it becomes clear that he is referring to the disappearing division between professionals (experts), and non-professionals (amateurs). As he discusses the expected roles of genuine professionals, he states that "a profession exists to solve a hard problem, one the requires some sort of specialization. Driving a race car requires special training-race car drivers are professionals. Driving an ordinary car, though, doesn't require the driver to belong to a particular profession, because it's easy enough that most adults can do it with a modicum of training" (Shirky 57).  By using metaphorical examples, Shirky is merely suggesting that particular individuals are referred to as "professionals" for the essential skill-set, education, and/or knowledge that they have acquired. Like the race-car drivers, journalists are considered professionals for the overall means of knowledge and skill that they posses. The "amateurs" however, which range from a wide range of individuals of varied ages, races, genders, and ethnicities from all around the world, are a lot like the "ordinary car" drivers. They've acquired the simple skill that in today's world is relatively easy to acquire, and increasingly accessible: publishing.

        Predominantly on the web, publishing anything (including but not limited to: responses to real-life/occurrences and current news, pure fabrications, subjective and objective material, general information, personal information, etc.) as part of this amateurization, has undeniably become a norm. Not only is it easy to publish material within seconds, but it is even easier to spread it to the entire world...and you do not have to be a "professional" to do it. Shirky believes that rarity in professionalism already exists, and if this idea of mass amateurization continues, it may be abolished completely.
In Why Heather Can Write, Henry Jenkins offers an argument that lies on the opposite end of the spectrum. He discusses the positive affect that mass amateurization has on children and teens, that derives from increasingly popular fan fiction. With the freedom to publish creatively online, children are subconsciously stepping outside the confinements of their academic boundaries. It is ultimately a defiance against the education regulatory system, due to the younger generations' using this kind of available media to better themselves. Jenkins states that "Through online discussions of fan writing, the teen writers develop a vocabulary for talking about writing and they learn strategies for rewriting and improving their own work. When they talk about the books themselves, the teens make comparisons with other literary works or draw connections with philosophical and theological traditions; they debate gender stereotyping in the female characters; they cite interviews with the writer or read critiques of the works; they use analytic concepts they probably wouldn't encounter until they reached the advanced undergraduate classroom" Jenkins (189). He explores the ways that students, as a part of mass amateurization, are using these techniques to do what they teacher (professionals) are failing to do.                    
After analyzing the arguments posed by both authors, it becomes particularly interesting to consider how things have changed within the world of social media, and expressive freedom. I would be lying if I stated that I was not an active participant in the world of "mass amateurization". I read, I post, I share, I create, and I do not regret. After all, my life revolves around the existence of media, but I do not believe that a clear-cut division between professionals and amateurs must be so prominent. My neighbor's voice may be just as, if not more, valid than any professional journalist, writer, or scholar's. At the end of the day, it is the matter that is most important, not necessarily the execution of that matter.

1 comment:

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