Clay Shirky discusses the term “mass amateurization” in his piece Here Comes Everybody to discuss the impact new media technologies have by allowing the convergence of the unskilled with the skilled in media professions and changing how it is delivered. Anyone and everyone are now threatening professionals in the field of journalism, television, and radio and put them in the danger zone of being obsolete. What is even more dangerous however, is how the information is being put out. Information through Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter tweets are thrown at you, and you are then left to filter out with is important to you or simply entertaining to you.
We are then left to sort out this media, as Skirky compares it to an umpire calling strikes, “some pitches are balls and some are strikes, but they ain’t nothin’ till I call ’em” (64)
Shirky believes the consequence of this growing Internet epidemic will have “control over the media” and “is less completely in the hands of the professionals” (59). Eventually, the media will be in control of everyone whether they are qualified or not. These professionals who gained a specialization in their field are no longer considered special. They are the “gatekeepers” who provide and control information, but now the “gatekeepers” are not only them, but also everyone else. Skirky envisions today’s media to change the landscape of information being distributed, competed, and created.
Henry Jenkins’ introduces new phenomenon called fan fiction culture in his “Convergence Culture,” where young writers such as Heather Lawver, enter the Internet writing world by creating their own fantasy narratives and engaging in others. This form of “amateurization” poses the question if children are capable to be part of the convergence culture. Jenkins answers this by pointing out that these skills are acquired through active participation, that this “role-playing was providing an inspiration for them to expand other kinds of literacy skills—those already valued within traditional education” (185).
Unlike Skirky, Jenkins believe that “mass amateurization” encourages the media society, where people can develop and learn certain skils. These kids are developing these skills through their own personal interests, and even more, they are teaching each other.
While many believe that today’s media has taken away some media professions such as journalism, I believe they will not die out. Yes, the media jobs will be hurt, but there is still the want for good quality media. Good quality is not found on these Facebook and Twitter accounts, amateurs cannot produce the best quality in my opinion. I will say that today’s media if utilized properly would be a great media tool, but it’s still amateur at best if put in the wrong hands. Big corporations like CBS and NBC will want well-written journalism with sources and knowledgeable information, not information from a trending Twitter topic. I personally find my news the traditional way by reading the newspaper or news channels on the television because I get a better understanding of the topic and also trust it more. I think if you were to find great news, you don’t check your Facebook for credible sources. I trust people who have those skills and have the background to produce good information.
Shirky and Jenkins may not agree on how the media is impacting the way society gains information, but what these authors can agree on is that society is continuing to expand on their technology and will therefore depend more and more on their information from these technological devices. It will also be much more accessible to retrieve any information we either want or don’t want. The merging of the skilled and unskilled will inevitably change the way we will obtain information.