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.

Twitter and the Australian election #ausvotes #ozpolitics

I’ll be heading off to Media140 OzPolitics in Canberra on 23 September 2010 (the Twitter hashtag is #OzPolitics). It fits nicely into many of the  discussions I’ve had about the recent Australian federal election

Some of the big questions I’ve been thinking about include:

  • Was the realtime web important in the outcome of the election?
  • Did Twitter play a major role in election discussions?
  • If there was significant conversation about the election on Twitter did the politicians listen to it?

I’m going to be exploring these questions over the next two weeks.

In the meantime I’ve been checking out some of the analysis of the election Twitter stream (mainly around the #ausvotes hashtag) done before, during and since the election.