Shirky & The Concept of Amateurization

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Clay Shirky, author of “Here Comes Everybody,” talked about the massive drawbacks of having amateurs publishing their content via the internet, a term he coins as Mass Amateurization. 

An interesting example with cars: where a race car driver is in a specialized profession, any one adult can drive and operate a car with a few minimum requirements, no profession necessary. This is the basis of the idea for mass amateurization. To break this down, professions are an exclusionary group filled with people that share similar set goals and interests. A societal structure the past world had relied on, according to Shirky. With the internet, exclusionary professions are no longer necessary to link up with others, in Shirky’s words the “deprofessionaliz[ation]” of “like-minded people”.

The problem with formal organization, such as professions, is that they are exclusive in nature. This means that at one point, all news came from a small percentage of able-trained new reporters reporting on what they as well as their bosses thought should be news. Though “Mass Amateurization,” an offensive term in its own right, is correct in its analysis that opening the realms of news and communication to everybody runs the risk of having irrelevant and counterproductive content, I think that the positives out way the negatives.

 

  1. No Majority Opinion: For one, all content available will never run the risk of holding the majority opinion. The open format of the internet allows ALL opinions, with the exception of comment moderation or the like. There exists no majority and no minority, only an all inclusive mixture.
  2.  Individual vs. Collective No More: Within different societies, there exist the tendency for the individual to go against the collective opinion—yet again, however, because there is no chance to pin a majority against a minority, the individual and the collective can work together. In the case of the sidekick story of Chapter 1, one individual built himself into the collective, working toward both his goals and the goals of other people.
  3. Newsworthiness Doesn’t Matter: Because of this Mass Amateurization, if there is a story that the news channels and networks aren’t paying attention to, perhaps aren’t covering at all because of its own needs (political corruption, small town scandals, etc), now people over the internet can build an audience, gain support, and cover news themselves.
  4. Power to the People: In terms of American society, democracy stems from the people’s voice. Now, news in the hands of the people, and out of the hands of powerful authority figures (ones who can abuse their rights just as much as anyone else). 

Shirky may be tentative to Mass Amateurization, but as for me, I’m not.

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