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From Consumer To Participant

As I’ve stated before, I love Clay Shirky. The guy is phenomenally perceptive and insightful in detecting subtle changes in global trends and patterns of behavior. In “Cognitive Surplus”, Mr. Shirky recounts the rut of one-way consumerism that most of us were in, and many of us are still in, until relatively recently. The figure below shows the “old days” model, which is still “these days” for a boatload of people – especially institutional SCOLs.

In the “old days” model, content was concocted by “professional” content concocters and spoon fed to us through the (yawn) standard one-way media outlets of TV, radio and newspaper. The media creators and the media communication infrastructure owners had full say over what we heard and saw through the limited, one way-media outlets. We were (and most still are) passive consumers sitting in our lazy boys and scarfing up the input provided to us.

With the advent of social networks, the situation has changed drastically. As the figure below illustrates, the “old days”, one- way system of forced feeding has been supplemented by a parallel, “new days”, two-way system in which you and I have the opportunity to participate and create. The meteoric rise of social networks has allowed previously shackled DORKs like you and me to actively create and share content while simultaneously allowing a much greater variety of choice over what we consume. Ain’t life grand?

Of course, the emergence of this brave new world has triggered great angst and fear in those old school power mongers who can’t or won’t morph with the times. As far as most corpricracies go, they’re still stuck in the mindset of “we’ll control the crap and we’ll control the distribution of the crap of what you see and hear. As you know, we’re better and smarter than you and your fellow amateurs, so it’s in your best interest if you forgo the opportunity to participate.

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