Digital Media- Here Comes Everyone

During this weeks lecture we looked at the ideas around how everyone is involved with the internet and digital world, we started off by look at cognitive surplus, which is the idea that we have loads of time on our hand. It is what we do with time that is very interesting, do you ever find yourself saying I will look at social media for five minutes and it turns into an hour long session? People often get distracted and ‘lose‘ track of time; however people do not always realise that is the time had always been there, and we have not lost it, it is what we chose with the time that affects us. Social media and the internet can be seen to ‘waste’ our time, we become so involved in the digital world that we forget about the real world.

An example of this is the ideas around participation; in the past participation was a thing you did with friends and family, such as board games. This has now migrated online where you can ‘play’ online, people spend hours on online games in a virtual community, this could be seen as leading to an erosion of the interaction of people in real time. The idea of participation if further explored in the article ‘The Shock of Inclusion‘ by Clay Shirky, which looks at the impact that a participatory online world has. Every year there is some new thing that takes over our interest and we all begin to participate, the ice bucket challenge, the Harlem Shake etc are examples of this.


We then looked at the positives and negatives of the growing participatory digital world:

Participatory digital media – +ve

  1. the internet/social media allows you to communicate directly with peers
  2. ideas can be shared/developed
  3. you can create a professional profile and brand your practice so that creating connections with communities of practice around the world is a click (or two) away
  4. you can receive feedback on your work even if you don’t have an established ‘name’
  5. creating and maintaining a profile is feasible and simple using dedicated sites
  6. you can create your own social networks using tools such as Ning

Participatory digital media – -ve

  1. your ideas can be appropriated
  2. everyone can get online and ‘present’ themselves as professional
  3. Here comes everybody!

The increase in participation has both good qualities and bad, I do not feel that we should avoid participation, however we should be aware of issues; especially for a digital professional such as a photographer we should be aware of issues such as copyright. Other issues that arise now that there is so much information online about different digital practises, many people argue that they can do the job just as well now through the help of the Internet. In photography this means that the difference between the amateur and the professional has become very blurred, therefore affecting the way we work and our practise.

Finally we looked at the ideas around Crowdsourcing, this is often used for learning about human behaviour; it is the collection of data from a large number of people. In relation to photography, you could collect a range of images from people for comparison or a montage; by doing this as photographer you hand over a bit of control to other people, letting them get involved creating more of a collaborative effort. In my own work I could give friend(s) a task to do and then put it all together myself.

An example of crowdsourcing is Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir – ‘Lux Aurumque’, in which Whitacre asked people to record themselves singing sections of a piece, he then composed the piece combining some of the peoples voices to create a digital choir.


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