I’ve been speaking at events around the country recently and have really felt a change in the way that many people are approaching media. A key learning for me has been that those people we have long considered to be the audience have changed.
Their behaviours are shifting to a more active involvement in the process of consuming media – whether online or offline at a conference.
Just by calling people “the audience” we place them in a box. They are not actors in a process, rather they are recipients or hearers of the words of others.
Go back to the root of the word audience, the Latin audentia – it is about people who listen.
But with engaged people who already have their own ways of responding, sharing, remixing and reporting what is going on they can hardly be called an audience any longer. That is why I now tend to refer to people as participants rather than as the audience.
Because passive and polite listening is not what is happening any longer (except perhaps occasionally in Melbourne where politeness still rules 😉 ). The erstwhile audience is now commenting on what happens while it is in progress, they are demanding a right of reply and they are taking control of the conversation in all sorts of interesting ways.
It will be interesting to see the evolution of the Twitter stream for Media140 Oz Politics to see just what the participants will be saying about events as they unfold. The hashtags are #OzPolitics and #Media140.