Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’ll know that the way we relate to media has changed. Dramatically.
We are no longer the audience, we are prosumers.
This means we don’t just passively accept and digest the media when it is spoon-fed to us at regular intervals. We decide when, where and what we want to view, and then make our own decisions about how or if we want to interact with it. We make Facebook statuses, tweet news, leave comments, and hit the ‘like’ button. We can also share what we find interesting with those we know. Or don’t know, as is often the case.
In effect, we have become part of the media, integrated into the whole. This has a whole range of potential that we’re only just finding out about. “The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere”, you can begin to understand the effects an active audience is having upon the way information is gathered. For example, if you look at the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, you can see that social media became integral to the organisation of protests, as well as reporting what was going on within Egypt to the outside world. “Twitter is Blocked in Egypt Amidst Rising Protests” outlines how the Egyptian government attempted to block Twitter, but how news leaked through anyway.
In this way, rather than getting what would be an official, censored version of the truth, the outside world and people within Egypt were allowed a more accurate insight.
This is not the first time convergent media has altered the outcome of an event, the Boxing day tsunami in 2004, the London Bombings….
In these times, anyone can be a journalist.
I took it upon myself to look at what was happening, media wise, with the emerging story of North Korea’s declaration of war. Hackers accessed North Korea’s social media pages, (watch “Hackers target N Korea as tensions mount“) but the difference here is that North Korea’s media is so closed. It will be interesting to see what kinds of impacts convergent media will have upon these events.
However, it’s not just news that’s changing, it’s our entertainment. YouTube ‘vloggers’ are amassing thousands if not millions of followers (charlieissocoollike being my sister’s favourite). The phenomenal power is that these are everyday people, who have now been given the creative and expressive freedom to make their own media.
There are home-made videos that receive millions of views. What does this mean for traditional broadcasters? Well, in a nutshell, everyday people can upload content at zero cost to themselves which is viewed by more people than when millions of dollars’ worth of investment is put towards producing traditional content.
The content industry is in trouble: the audience has discovered DIY
Gordon, Janey (2007), The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere: Mobile Phone Usage in Three Critical Situations, Convergence 13/3 Pages: 37-319.