Mobile video and myths about participatory culture

Richard Smith has posted an interesting reply to Igor Faletski’s declaration that mobile TV is dead over at new blog Mobscure (duly added to the cknz blogroll). The debate between them is about whether or not mobile video will be a platform more for creation than for consumption.

I could interject into this debate that the biggest driver of mobile video content is not amateur videography à la Youtube, but sports and entertainment news, and Juniper Research is in agreement with me on this. So I’m falling generally on the side of the argument where Fox, CBS, NBC, and so forth stand to gain the most in the  realm of mobile video/broadcasting. True enough, it’s not the same as historical precedents (television, cinema, etc.), and true enough these media can likely thrive concurrently with all the new forms. But what of the amateur, or the marginal? Surely this is an important person in any discussion about media creation and consumption…

As with the evolution of the web-based social media sphere, a participatory culture (which I’m defining here loosely as, relatively, evenly distributed exposure for lots of amateurs) grows on the back of the nonparticipatory media beast (Fox et al), at its fringes, and feeding on its leftovers. In the case of web-based participatory culture, amateur media communities are sustained by the infrastructure provided by Big Media, where bandwidth is so ludicrously abundant that it seems shocking when an ISP shuts down a website. The reason why the Web 2.0 sphere seems to be so much of a bigger deal than it actually is, in my view, is that so many of its most high profile participants are well versed or day-jobbed in Search Marketing or online community design. It seems to be one of those historical moments where everyone in advertising is also in art, and the squares haven’t yet fully taken over the control booths or podcast stations.

Which means: this is a moment of opportunity -to articulate what a more equitable media ecosystem can be, and to secure public access footholds in the next generation of mediating technologies. Are we up to this challenge? Can we have fearless media? (with apologies to Irwin and Scott – I think I’m just trying to contribute to the definition of what this phrase means in some backhanded way) If so, what are the vital next moves of the artistic and activist communities in unlocking emerging media devices/networks now? Political? Technical? Aesthetic? All of the above?

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