John McCann

Participation Age up close

In Content business on May 1, 2006 at 10:49 pm

My wife and I went to Merlefest, a music festival held in honor of Merle Watson, the deceased musician and son of Doc Watson. It was a great festival and we had a wonderful time. We also saw, up close and personal, what Michael Malone called the Digital Photography Revolution.

There were a dozen or so venues throughout the Wilkes Community College campus. The largest venue, the Watson Stage, has thousands of seats with room for many, many more in a grassy area in the back. There must have been tens of thousands of people in the audience during performances of some of the stars, such as Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Nickel Creek, etc.

As shown on the seating chart, there are two main aisles that lead to the area in front of the stage. We had seats on the end of the fourth row, next to Aisle 4. No only did we have a great view of the stage, we witnessed a parade of photographers, both professional and amateur, coming down to take pictures of the performers. Police and volunteer ushers made sure that people had time to take a few pictures, and then encouraged them to go back to their seats. As a result, we saw hundreds of people clamoring to take pictures with digital cameras of all shapes, sizes and prices.

When you snap a picture, you create content. In order to participate in a larger community, you need to share the picture so that others can enjoy it. A "Merlefest" search on the Flickr picture sharing site returned 242 photos, such as this picture of Gillian Welch, which appears to have been taken near where I was standing during her performance on Saturday on the Creekside stage. I imagine there will be many more posted on Flickr and similar sites as people get around to transferring their pictures from their cameras.

Whether simply taking pictures, taking and sharing them, photographers at Merlefest brought the Participation Age into my lap as they jostled at times to get close to the stage. It was quite an experience!


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