As an entire generation, we are becoming increasingly more proactive in the social sphere of media as a means of connecting to one another for common communication and collaborating with each other for collective knowledge. Within this process we have rapidly progressed from consumers to prosumers; digesting, exploiting, linking, liking, sharing, tweeting and questioning all that we can.
But back in the ‘olden days,’ which really aren’t so old at all, merely before the creation of the internet and social networking, the majority of media was deposited down a standardised production line before it could be published to an audience. Ownership was absolute, diminishing opposing opinions and exposing audiences to one sided arguments. This filtered ‘effect’ has decreased in popularity over the years and furthermore encouraged its audiences to be the advocates of information (citizen journalism) – to use the voice our social networking platforms have provided us with.
For example in the case of Barack Obama’s 2008 election as president of the United States, he became the first political aspirant to effectively integrate and rely upon social media in his electoral campaign as a means of reaching out to an entirely new voting base. Barackobama.com, run by Chris Hughes – one of the three co-founders of Facebook – incorporated “online tools that allowed members to identify neighbours that the Obama campaign thought might be potential backers and then report back on any resulting conversations.” The ‘Obama presidential campaign’ also spent approximately $643,000 out of $16 million Internet budget to promote his Facebook account ” in addition to the ever-popular twitter account, @BarackObama, which lies “among the top ten worldwide in both followers and followed,” promoting legislation and support for his policies to the widest possible audience.
Media ownership is such a powerful source, the control it has over its consumers and prosumers grows with each new member of its ‘participatory culture,’ but the freedom associated within this online society has helped the audience in a number of ways, first and foremost, by giving them the ability to form their own impartial and independent opinions on matters both within and beyond their usual sphere of influence, and the capacity to share it with anyone and everyone by choice of interest.