Documentary: Us

A short analysis for Integrated media 2: Documentary

Last weeks film; Us, explores the power shifts that have begun to appear in contemporary society due to an emerging participatory culture created by our mass consumer technology. With this great advancement in technology, so to comes a new generation of communicating with one another, this being ‘collaborative communication’. With the internet now allowing the masses to speak to one another, rather than one person to speak to many, so to has our knowledge expanded beyond the realms of our imagination. Instead of solely entrusting one ‘specialist’, we now have forums that allow the collaboration of many ‘specialists’ or knowledgeable persons to share their experiences with others. With all this knowledge being spread, Rheingold notes that a snowball effect is occurring, turning ‘individual acts of participation into a participatory culture’. With this in mind, many can see the benefits of sharing knowledge with others who may not be able to access it due to monetary or locational circumstances.

And so with a cultural network emerging through many-to-many prosumers being able to contact one another, so to is collective intelligence born. The amount of content available grows at an incredible rate each day, with Rheingold noting that ‘Youtube has over 35 hours of video uploaded each minute’. So in a world where participation can equate to real power, what is possible?

This is what this documentary predominantly focuses on. WIth its main argument proposing that our emerging participatory culture has the power to regulate, and some day even run the governments of the world. With societies collaborating information amongst one another, such as wikileaks, the government would be forced to run a more transparent parliament. As more and more people become included this could possibly shift into a world collaboratively ruled by the entire world.
Yet the documentary thankfully does acknowledge that there are massive challenges from this idealistic viewpoint. For with this mass communication, more people can express and broadcast their opinions than at any other time in history. With so many viewpoints there is always the possibility of conflicting information and also extremist views. The internet is also not readily available to everyone in the world and therefore may disenfranchise certain minority groups, that probably need to be heard the loudest. There is also the risk of saboteurs, who could ruin any exchange of information online.

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