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The People Formerly Known as the Audience

“The everyday folks can now take control of the production of media content, and are no longer merely consumers heholden to professionals media people”. Evidently Rosen is very perceptive, and on point with this assertion, and so is Clay Shirky as he repeatedly echoes the same sentiment is his book” Cognitive Surplus”. According to Shirky, digital media allows the people formerly known as the audience, to create value for one another. This is basically stating that people are now learning to use the free time afforded to them, for more creative acts, rather than consumptive ones, particularly with the advent of web 2.0, and online tools that allow new forms of collaborations.

In chapter two of his book “Cognitive Surplus” Shirky uses a very good example. “The button marked publish”. Maxine Hong Kingston wrote an article praising Barack Obama on the occasion of his visit to her home state of Hawaii, but unfortunately for her, the newspapers she sent the article to, all denied to publish it. To her delight she realized this rejection mattered a whole lot less than it used to. She went onto Open.Salon.com, a website for literary conversations, and as she put it, “All I had to do was type, and click a button marked publish”.

I totally agree with Rosen, gone are the days when the voices of the masses could not be heard, because media ran in one direction, in a broadcasting pattern with high entry fees, and a few firms competing to speak very loudly, while the rest of the population listened in isolation. A few years ago I lived in a small town, in a small island in the Caribbean call Dominica. The media houses were structured, censored, and plagued with bureaucratic red tape. The publication of information and media attention, was difficult, and very expensive. As a result of this, the voice of the masses especially those in the less developed communities was almost nonexistent. A few gifted and ambitious individuals that resided in the town of Portsmouth, decided to take the initiative to fix this, and the idea of a community website was born. Within a short period of time the site http://www.insidepossie.com/ was up and running, and it immediately placed Portsmouth on the map. This was the first community based website on the island. It was used to showcase the town’s activities, it’s natural resources, and it’s many talented individuals. Portsmouth became one of the most popular, and talked about community on the island as it’s events, and the skills of it’s  many talented residents were now displayed on a bigger stage.

The people formerly known as the audience were now speaking, as we own the eye balls on the computer screens, and broadcasting was no longer a one way street.

11,315 responses so far

11,315 Responses to “The People Formerly Known as the Audience”

  1. Anna Yangon Mar 21st 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I agree that “broadcasting is no longer a one way street” as illustrated in your story which is made possible by lower start-up cost for participation in production of media.