Pro Ams ?

With wikipedia, firefox, and blogs / open source in general a trend is growing on: amateurs that are as knowledgeable as professionals and that are willing to share their knowledge/brains for free. This is the Pro-Am revolution, and goes far beyond journalism or programming. The term appears to have been coined by Demos, an independent think-tank, who has published a book to describe the trend in much details: The Pro-am Revolution, How enthusiasts are changing our economy and society (free PDF here).

Extract: "From astronomy to activism, from surfing to saving lives, Pro-Ams - people pursuing amateur activities to professional standards - are an increasingly important part of our society and economy.

For Pro-Ams, leisure is not passive consumerism but active and participatory, it involves the deployment of publicly accredited knowledge and skills, often built up over a long career, which has involved sacrifices and frustrations.

The 20th century witnessed the rise of professionals in medicine, science, education, and politics. In one field after another, amateurs and their ramshackle organisations were driven out by people who knew what they were doing and had certificates to prove it.

The Pro-Am Revolution argues this historic shift is reversing. We’re witnessing the flowering of Pro-Am, bottom-up self-organisation and the crude, all or nothing, categories of professional or amateur will need to be rethought.

Based on in-depth interviews with a diverse range of Pro-Ams and containing new data about the extent of Pro-Am activity in the UK, this report proposes new policies to support and encourage valuable Pro-Am activity."

Update: there is an essay version as well on Fast Company.

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