It fascinates me to watch information dissemination democratize under a new age of wikis, YouTube, and blogs. I think this phenomenon reflects and even directs a growing sense of empowerment of participation in current world issues. The average Joe Six-pack is given a voice via his keyboard and computer screen in his basement. The internet has greatly augmented public engagement in a variety of ways. Obama’s campaign is funded so successfully in part from his grassroots method of collecting small donations through his website and on the ground campaign partners such as MoveOn.org. Ornithologists have found the pictures posted by amateur birders on Flickr useful in conducting nation-wide bird surveys. The multipurpose interface of Facebook allows the young generation of busy voters and over-committed civic participants to easily post videos, join special interest groups and type political notes accessible to vast networks or people, while staying informed about events on campus and staying in touch with old friends at the same time. The accessibility to knowledge, news, and opportunities is unprecedented in our time and it would be a mistake not to use these tools to empower everyone with the chance at informed citizenship.
New-age media consumers must consequently take control of personally educating themselves on the truth behind potential over-exaggerations such as sensationalist facts or quotes taken out of context. The US public has a tendency to eat spoon fed news and not bother following up on the legitimacy of a news clip which can be extremely dangerous in a new wave of readily available yet possibly misinformed facts and figures.
Another problem is that not everyone is technologically enabled to create a video, set up a blog, or even access a computer. The vast majority of the US public has this capacity at the very least through the public library system or community computer classes—but the majority is not everybody, and we should continue to work towards giving every individual access to information and the choice to share opinions through the Internet.