Any individual with access to a computer and internet connection can create and distribute prose, poetry, commentary, software or services to millions at little cost. Add a microphone and they can conduct talkback or share original music and ass a low-cost digital camera with video capacity and they can also share photos and video.
As detailed in Paul Budde's article, The rebirth of the innovative individual, this is a return to the individual creativity stifled by 'big media' through the 20th century.
The private sector in Australia has already begun effectively tapping into this media change - but how about the public sector?
Car, computer and shampoo companies have supported customer-created television commercials. Prominent political bloggers have been invited to political rallies and 'mummy bloggers' courted by large consumer goods companies. Online musicians have hit the top of the charts and been 'discovered' and online programmers have contributed solutions to major corporate software solutions.
We've even seen other media, newspapers, radio and television channels add the capability for individuals to break stories and provide video and audio coverage used around the world.
On the public front, in other jurisdictions we've seen some government efforts to tap into this space, from the New Zealand police wiki Act (an Act of Parliament written by the public via a wiki) to the UK cash prizes for mashups (where the government is rewarding the best applications built using government information).
In Australia I have not seen any developments on this scale.
Certainly we have a few mechanisms to listen to citizens via different online consultation channels, but listening isn't the same as collaborating.
I am not aware of any major initiatives in Australia where government is saying to the public,
We don't know how to achieve the best outcomes in this area, so if anyone has a good idea put it forward and we'll both reward and use the best of them?
This can be challenging step for any organisation used to be the source of answers, rather than the facilitator of solutions.
However, as the private sector is discovering, the new approach delivers excellent outcomes.
I'm hopeful that within a few years we will also see Australian governments using collaborative approaches to write legislation, generate program ideas, produce creative and develop (online) applications and systems.