The notion of mass amateurisation was first popularised by Clay Shirky in 2008. His book conceptualised mass amateurisation as the capabilities that new forms of media have enabled for non-professionals and the ways non-professionals have utilised those capabilities to compete with larger, professional institutions.
Shirky explains that activities such as blogging and video and photo-sharing websites allow anyone and everyone to publish an article or photo without the need of review by professionals such as editors. Mass amateurisation is changing the definition of words like ‘journalist’ and ‘photographer’ to include non-professionals outside of the institutional sphere and it is also changing the way news and other content is consumed and interpreted by the public through various media outlets.
Mass amateurisation is most often associated with but not limited to Web 2.0 These technologies include the rise of blogs and citizen journalism, photo and video-sharing services such as Flickr, YouTube and Vimeo and user-generated forums such as Reddit.
The phenomenon has occurred throughout history as certain technologies have become more readily available to the public thanks, in part, to low transaction costs. A prime example of this is photography, as the costs of camera technology fell, more and more amateurs gained accessibility to photography technology and even more so through the integration of cameras and mobile phones. Now average people can shoot, develop and edit their own photographs in their own time and if they choose, post to a public social media platform. Previously anyone taking photographs would have to have relied on the institutional model.