Power and authority, always interesting topics! I agree that new medias have allowed for an unprecedented level of communication and collaboration which in turn has resulted in a strong voice for ordinary people. Whether it is politicians who quickly respond to Facebook protests from constituents (for example, Premier Dalton McGuinty changing his policy on the process for licensing young drivers due to a Facebook campaign from young Ontarians), or companies who change products and policies based on Twitter feedback, or nonprofit organization such as Invisible Children who immediately respond via all forms of social media to critics, ordinary people can effectively use new technologies to make their opinions known.
One of this week’s readings “Revisiting Multiliteracies in Collaborative Learning Environments” by Vance Stevens (http://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/volume10/ej38/ej38int/) discusses the fascinating concept of “the long tail”. Stevens notes that in traditional print media, publishers decide what is worthy of publication, often based on the perceived ability of a book to be marketable to large amounts of people. However, due to new medias, ordinary people who want to share their voice, can easily use new medias to create a blog, develop a website, gain a following on Twitter, or even publish a book.
According to Wikipedia, “The term Long Tail has gained popularity in recent times as describing the retailing strategy of selling a large number of unique items with relatively small quantities sold of each – usually in addition to selling fewer popular items in large quantities .” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Tail)
Amazon is an amazing example of the long tail concept. Amazon through its Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) allows authors to publish and market digital books. It is free for authors to use this service (Amazon takes a percentage of sales). Under KDP, E-books are created based on the interests and passions of authors. Few are best sellers, and the Amazon model is based on selling small quantities of many types of diverse books. Amazon makes a HUGE profit either way.
I am most interested in e-publishing and, in order to learn how to write, format, publish and market e-books, I wrote a book for Kindle this December on something I am personally interested in. Based on my experience with KDP, my non-profit organization is in the process of moving many of our instructional books to Amazon KDP and selling them as a social enterprise. In this time of government cutbacks, we nonprofits must be more innovative than ever!
So “power to the people” I say, and give thanks that new medias exist where we can share our stories, voices, and resources without someone on high saying they aren’t worthy. We can engage stakeholders directly ourselves and use our creativity without someone in power stopping us. Hurrah for the long tail and new medias such as KDP!
p.s. Happy Saint Urho's Day everyone - the day St. Urho drove the grasshoppers out of Finland! A time to wear purple and green and celebrate!