But this brave new world of cutting edge technology is not without problems. With every technological and sociological advance there are problems to solve, and this one is no different.
Citizen journalism relies on the wisdom of the crowd. Those with experience of crowds will perhaps suggest that the idiocy of the crowd is more appropriate. In Britain right now, the wisdom of the crowd would suggest that Big Brother is the best thing on TV. Anybody outside of the popular demographic will surely disagree. By defining media by the wisdom of the masses, do we merely end up catering to the lowest common denominator?
Is Big Brother really the best thing on TV? â€“ (NO! ed.)
If that is the case, then thank goodness for social networking. If those with niche interests are to be spurned by the crowd, at least they have way to find each other and bemoan their fate together. But we have seen that people are still not really aware of the differences and similarities between networking in real life and networking online. People reveal information about themselves to their friends and associates online that they would not dream of doing in a face to face, offline environment. Educating people to be sensible about how they act online when networking is proving to be a tough job, and the anonymity that the Internet provides can make for problems with abuse, as we've seen in a number of high-profile cases involving MySpace and those of a dubious sexual character.
Internet video and audio is a fantastically democratic medium. Advances in technology mean that many people are able to afford digital video equipment and produce shows and blogs that are far superior to many professional productions just a decade ago. However, with a truly democratic medium comes all the problems of democracy - how to filter out the views and voices that we do not agree with, and how to uphold free speech without allowing for abuse of the system.
In an analogue world, we could do what we wanted with our media - we could transfer LPs to tape, record programmes off the TV and share those with our friends. But digital media allows for restrictions and caveats to be put on the usage of media that is distributed, meaning that, far from being encouraged and democratised, participatory media can be more restrictive, and made into a decidedly one way conversation by media outlets that choose to restrict how it can be used and transferred.
Digital media can restrict what we do with content.
The new generation of the Internet offers many possibilities for the democratisation of media, the progression and education of humans as a race and as individuals, and for a more intimate relationship with our fellow man. However, there are still many obstacles to overcome before we can truly say that we are happy with the situation we will find ourselves in a decade from now.