Does Amateur Hour Now Run 24×7?


Back in the 1930s when radio was the hot new medium a show called Amateur Hour created a venue for people to parade their talents — an American Idol without the faces, so to speak.

Today the amateur has moved from entertainment to just about any field imaginable. Consider citizen journalism which author and journalism school dean Nicholas Lemann regards with disdain in a August 2006 New Yorker article. (I once likened citizen journalism to school yard basketball, which is fun to play and watch; just don’t expect a fat contract or endorsements). The image above, for instance, is taken from the cover of a CD sold by amateur musician Mark Stepakoff.

Because I’m a professional media guy (as in I get paid to write) I tend to focus on the amateurs on my turf. But I recently learned of an Oregon State University group dedicated to helping amateur programmers. It is called End Users Shaping Effective Software or EUSES and its mission statement says:

“the number of end-user programmers in the United States is expected to reach 55 million by 2005, as compared to only 2.75 million professional programmers. The(se) ‘programming’ systems . . . include spreadsheet systems, web authoring tools, and graphical languages for demonstrating the desired behavior of educational simulations.”

One recent tidbit to emerge from EUSES is a spreadsheet debugging tool. Here’s a link to the GoalDebug tool and to a press release about it.

That is not my particular interest. But once this outfit crossed my radar screen it occurred to me that EUSES might be the type of group to help programming-challenged writers like me figure out the technical stuff needed to turn social media into a business or at least a hobby that earns some income.

I once did a post called “Calling All Programmers” that suggests what rank amateur ‘programmers’ like me might need. Now it occurs to me to ask EUSES for an assist. So I will.

By the way I have observed one behavioral trait shared by amateurs who, like me, perform in public — in my case as a wannabe social media entrepreneur. They tend to have no shame.