A major shift is occurring in our world and it’s being assisted, like the Protestant Revolution, by technology. The power and control that a few huge companies have held over the heads of the general public is slowly coming to an end with the help of the World Wide Web. Clay Shirky presents to us “mass amateurization,” the idea that our ability as the public has changed from just being consumers, who receive messages and goods from a few huge companies, to being our own producers, no longer leaving publishing to be a thing for only a select group of “professionals."
The Internet has greatly cut down on the costs that have been attached to publishing for so long, one of the most important aspects of “mass amateurization.” Today anyone can go make a video (maybe on their phone), edit it in iMovie, and then upload it to Youtube, which can then be viewed by anyone with access to Youtube. The new age of the general public publishing their own content means that a lot more people that have views will actually voice their opinions, because it is so simple. There are a plethora of examples of “mass amateurization” today, but one that I particularly like is Etsy.com, a site that has beco
me increasingly popular since its start in 2005. Etsy allows users to sell their handmade goods to consumers through the website. Their mission statement is something that I believe more people are beginning to value today.
“Our mission is to empower people to change the way the global economy works. We see a world in which very-very small businesses have much-much more sway in shaping the economy, local living economies are thriving everywhere, and people value authorship and provenance as much as price and convenience. We are bringing heart to commerce and making the world more fair, more sustainable, and more fun.”
Another example of “mass amateurization” is blogs about celebrity gossip, such as Dlisted, Perezhilton, TheFrisky, and Jezebel. These blogs, that say essentially the same things as the weekly celebrity tabloid magazines, and way more, are free to read, use no paper, and can be updated all the time, meaning the stream of gossip and information is never ending. Shirky explains it as, “the individual webblogs are not merely alternate sites of publishing; they are alternatives to publishing itself, in the sense of publishers as a minority and professional class” (pg. 66) I used to buy a tabloid magazine most times I went to the supermarket, but now I just rely on blogs to get my embarrassing celebrity information. I am not saying that blogs are ready to take over for all magazines yet, I still occasionally will buy a tabloid because I like, and miss, the familiarity of having the magazine to look at, and, I think, a lot of people still feel that way.
There will always be respect to people that are professionals in their fields. They will always be the people (in most cases) that graduated, or were specially trained in that field; there’s something there that makes them stand out from the rest, it could be their style of writing or their technique with photography. Although the line is now blurred where professionals start and amateurs begin, it still exists. The media now has to change to accommodate to their viewers for example, NPR has many informative blogs available on their website that are written by professionals, but in an informal style. The blogs can be on a wide range of topics that can catch the interest of more readers than some of NPR's radio broadcasts, and it allows readers to comment on the story. The biggest difference I see occurring in the future for media professionals, besides less demand for them, will be media professionals listening to the public, because we will have more say in what’s important.
A lot is about to change and it’s exciting, but at the same time, there’s a chance that it could be chaotic, which has happened with new technology throughout history. Shirky explains “…because social effects lag behind technological ones by decades, real revolutions don’t involve an orderly transition…”( pg. 68). I don’t think that this new technology will create as large a change as the printing press, TVs will not become obsolete and people aren’t throwing out their radios, but it will change some aspects of our culture. The London Riots could be looked at as the “social effects lag” to technology. I’m not fully educated in what caused the riots, but it is a way of rationalizing it.
Sources: Shirky, Clay. "Everyone Is a Media Outlet." Here Comes Everybody: the Power of Organizing without Organizations. New York: Penguin, 2008. 55-80.