The audience is dead! Long live the participants!

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.

2 thoughts on “The audience is dead! Long live the participants!

  1. Kerry Pintado

    Hi Kate

    A very interesting idea you are throwing around…in fact, it is music to my ears!

    I’d like to be referred to as an emerging voice albeit a consumer in most of the traditional media these days.

    I was long ago one of those “polite” Melbournians whom listened without engagement.

    Whilst I am grappling to articulate my thoughts in 140 characters or less, participants as you refer to us as, are no longer happy just to listen but are engaging with valid arguments and sometimes great concepts. Many of which are very happy to share with the outside world not just traditional media.

    I am also finding that the moguls of traditional media are having to redefine their role and not simply own it. It has now become the property of the commons. Indeed these are very interesting times.

    The common voice is now a force to be reckoned with as more embrace the “now” media. I look forward to listening & engaging with #OzPolitics & #Media140

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