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The New Media Landscape

Revolutionized Media Sharing

In Clay Shirky’s TED talk How social media can make history  he claims

 “the moment we’re living through — the moment our historical generation is living through — is the largest increase in expressive capability in human history”.

And Shirky continues to explain why he truly believes this is true by making three very strong points. Firstly he identifies that prior to the internet, we had technologies that could carry a good conversation by was unable to create groups, or technologies that could create groups but could not carry a conversation. However the internet has made it possible for both groups and conversations to simultaneously occur. Secondly he identifies that as convergence increases, causing all the traditional mediums migrating to the internet, it is making the internet more of a place of coordination. The internet no longer acts as a resource of information but rather a tool for navigating and searching through other resources allowing for these groups of people to follow their preferred mediums. Thirdly, lastly, and most importantly, he makes the point that the digital age has allowed any single person to not only be a consumer, but also a producer. He says…

“Every time a new consumer joins this media landscape a new producer joins as well, because the same equipment — phones, computers — let you consume and produce”.

He’s completely right; all of a sudden we have the same tools we consume also acting as our tools to produce and what we’ve really acquired are vessels for human expression. This has completely revolutionized our media landscape.



Now if the media landscape has changed, it only makes sense that it affects something in our real world too, and of course there are many things but the aspect that I’d like to focus on is performances. Nowadays, any given moment, in any given place, with any given people can be uploaded and become viral. We have quick and convenient video tools like Vine, World Star, and of course Youtube. Obviously there has been a rise in the amount of home videos, people just goofing off or creating short funny clips for our daily entertainment, but it is the great phenomenon of improve that has taken the world by storm.


A great example of this is Improv Everywhere founded by Charlie Todd, the company is described as

“a New York City-based prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places”.

And actually Charlie Todd is the starter of the hilarious annual movement of No Pants Subway Ride in 2002, where one random day in the cold winter people are encouraged and gathered to ride the subway with no pants. What started as a 7 person prank over 10 years ago has rallied over 4,000 participants this year in January 2014!


Improv is short for improvisation which is a theatrical technique known for spontaneity and quick thinking, but our media landscape has caused people to redefine improv! Charlie Todd first started pranking New York City because he was bored at a temp job and tired of waiting for someone to give him a stage to perform on, so he decided to make his own. And this is a direct result of the revolutionized media landscape. All his missions and pranks from start and until today have been documented, recorded, and uploaded to some sort of media platform. Without the existence of the internet, without the connectivity it brings us, without the ability for it to create both groups and conversations, Charlie Todd would be without a stage. And without convergence of the theatrical medium into video, then we wouldn’t have these wonderful large scale pranks and without these easy tools, consumers would remain consumers.



Now we’ve got an incredibly large population of consumers or media, and an equally populous amount of producers, so the question is how do we bring media away from the funny, and entertaining and move it into a more serious realm. How do we use these powerful tools of human expression to reach those who deserve to have the opportunity to be connected, to consume, and produce just as we do? And in Jeremy Gilley’s TED talk he thinks the answer to closing the divide, to creating peace, to do anything, make any type of change at all, is for us to use the power of collaboration.

We’ve seen collaboration work before; Improv Everywhere is a proof that collaboration can make a change. Their purpose is to bring joy and chaos everywhere they go, to expose a new way of playing to the world, so Gilley states that the same should happen with trying to create peace. Throughout his journey of creating a film about trying to establish one entire day of peace on September 21st, he encounters obstacles but even more so people who don’t believe in his cause. People who try to tell him that what he does isn’t going to have an effect and that it won’t make a difference. But at the end of his journey he came to the conclusion…

“It’s all about the individuals. It’s all about you and me. It’s all about partnerships. It’s about your constituencies; it’s about your businesses. Because together, by working together, I seriously think we can start to change things”.

With the help of technology, collaboration has become an even more powerful tool than it already was. It has connected millions and billions of people to gather, and it has become efficient enough that we can relay messages in real time, from anywhere. Jeremy Gilley fights for one day of peace through film, and Charlie Todd creates scenes with video; both involve collaboration, both navigate and take advantage of the new media landscape to gain participants and witnesses. This moment we are living through really has the largest increase in expressive capability and it is up to us to figure out what to use it for.



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