Mass Amateurization In The Wake Of Tragedy

When tragedy struck at the Boston Marathon on April 15th, the regular every day person was the first one on the scene. Boston Marathon ExplosionThe actions ranged from rescuing others, to tweeting about the incident, and even acting as the primary news outlets equipped with smart-phone video cameras. This mass amateurization was only perpetuated as the manhunt for the suspects was taken into the hands of people everywhere. Granted, this crowd sourcing approach was somewhat unsuccessful in identifying the Tsarneav brothers, however the underlying ideal for the public to mobilize in response to a tragedy like this remains.

This response was a clear example of concepts discussed by Internet scholars including Clay Shirky and Siva Vaidhyanathan. In Shirky’s book, Here Comes Everybody, he notes the wonderful capabilities that mobile technologies bring including civilian journalism. Additionally, Vaidhyanathan in his article, “The Technocultural Imagination”, acknowledges how this sort of mobile technology has become the great equalizer and an inhibitor for instant communication. While both appreciate the democratizing capabilities of digital technology, Vaidhyanathan goes on to propose a common concern that these technologies have altered our expectations for prices and immediacy. Although these concerns are not without warrant, the focus of the attention on these subjects in relation to the bombing have been nothing less than heartwarming and idyllic.

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