The People’s Tech Revolution (Infographic)

While I always encourage caution in regard to investing in the latest and greatest technology at the drop of the hat, I do think it’s important to try and keep an idea of how technology is impacting the world, and it’s not always a bad thing to realize you’re due for an upgrade and finally take the plunge to invest in something more current if you feel you’ll make good use of it.

I don’t think anyone could have predicted that smartphones would end up playing a major role in journalistic coverage or revolutions worldwide—but as this infographic shows, they have. I feel like you can see how smartphones are beginning to represent in one device abilities we used to have to spend money on an array of different electronics to achieve. They can be a camera, a web browser, a social media hub, and, of course, a phone.

This infographic lays out how smartphones are overtaking many point-and-shoot cameras in popularity: for example, the iPhone has surpassed the Canon Powershot (a camera I have) in upload popularity on Flickr. It also examines the tension between “citizen journalism” and traditional photojournalism. While that’s a very new issue, I think it is well worth considering. It’s my hope that citizen journalists with smartphones can become a driving support to photojournalism, and that the proliferation of media from ordinary people will help keep the world at large more informed and aware.


  1. Hello! I’ll be unsubscribing from this blog. I loved it when it had content outside of infographics! I’ll be checking in from time to time to see if some of the older material is back!

    Good luck!

  2. The iPhone 4S is not 199.99. It is around 749.99. It is only 199.99 if you agree to a 2 year signed contract;((((( or I think if it is time for you to upgrade or to add another 2 years to your contract. ))))))

    You can get 16; 32 or 64 GB.. 🙂

    You can get at Verizon; AT&T; Sprint; Best Buys.. but NOT at T-MOBILE.. (t-mobile does not have apple yet??)

    I’ve been doing some freelance work for them; even though I do not use cellphones and probably never will. 🙂

    Apple pays a bit better than other cellular free lance work I have been doing..!! YAY APPLE.. !!

  3. I used to use a point-and-shoot type of camera quite frequently, but I jumped on the smart phone train not too long ago and I won’t be going back. The versatility of my phone plus the high-quality camera means I don’t have to carry a camera at all!

    It’s pretty cool that Stephanie was able to earn money from her iPhone pictures!

  4. I think this is a good analyses of the situation and how the new digital development have had enormous impact on the structures of the society and how we people interact with each other. No doubt smart phones makes it easier for everybody to interact on various levels as well as record ones life, by sound, images or text. The comparison between iPhone and Canon Powershot is very relevant for most, although I as a photographer still would use a point-and-shoot camera because the quality still surpasses anything any smart phone can do – if nothing else because of their bigger image sensors (and I am not talking about mega pixels). In journalism there is no doubt either that smart phones have lead to a revolution, which absolutely is very evident in the Arab Spring movement. The fact that ordinary people can capture events at any given time around the world is nothing less that fantastic from a journalistic point of view. But I don’t think the journalist are about to become extinct. On the contrary. With so much information flow more than ever those who wants to be kept update, need someone to filter all this the information, make it comprehensible and put it into a context. It’s a skill that journalists have always had, and will be more in demand of in the future. But of course the digital revolution will have a huge impact on how the journalist will be working in the future.

  5. I still haven’t made the smart phone jump (having a hard time justifying the cost) but I do have a camera on my cell and use it often, especially for candid shots of my kids.

  6. Well, I like the infographics and am very impressed by your technical savvy if you make them yourself. They tend to ram home ideas for me more thoroughly than text alone, and I’m enjoying the diversity of topics. The one about toys has really stayed with me and made me think about the next generation of Americans we’ll be churning out. Keep up the good work!

  7. I love technology; it makes our lives so much easier! Recipes at our fingertips, access to the most obscure information without traveling to a library, the ability to communicate with the world from your home, and to talk to almost anyone, anytime, anywhere.

    It makes me sad, though, when I see a group of young people at a table, and instead of talking to each other, they’re all hunched over tapping at their smart phones. People walk through stores with earbuds in place, fiddling with iPods. People I work with have their phones next to their computer keyboards, ready at a moment’s notice to read and answer a text. I hear people say “I texted her over a minute ago, and she hasn’t responded yet!”. I attended a funeral recently, and one person couldn’t put the phone away long enough to sit through the viewing portion.

    I think this is leading to a loss of human touch and connectivity. And I worry if there’s a solar flare that knocks out communications for days or weeks we’ll have millions of catatonic people wandering aimlessly for want of a text or tweet. There’s something to be said for having some down time, away from work or texts or tweets, to read a real book, or talk on the phone with a friend, or just do something human.

  8. I have an iPhone 3G; it’s old, but it works, and it makes my life a lot easier. I love the potential of technology, and it makes me sad when people resist it because they are resistant to change. It’s so helpful and efficient. Technology can be your friend, just don’t abuse it! I agree with the previous commenter, that it’s sad when people get together and don’t talk to each other, just use their phones, but in the interest of not being discriminatory, it’s not just “young” people that do this – at lunch the other day I saw two 40 somethings doing the same thing.

  9. Mm, well… newspapers were laying off photojournalists long before the iPhone 4S came out — in fact, long before the iPhone came out. In the UK more and more newspapers rely on press releases and supplied images.

    I like using my iPhone 4S, but I wouldn’t even remotely consider using it for any kind of serious PhotoJournalism. My Nikon D3 is infinitely more powerful — interchangeable lenses, ISO up to 25,600, RAW images, and, of course, a true shutter release. The moment you want to shoot 8 frames a second, you realise that the iPhone isn’t going to replace a proper PJ camera (which the Canon powershot isn’t, anyway).

    As I’ve always said, you can get 80% of images with virtually any camera, and the 4S falls into that camp. For the next 10% you need a DSLR. For the 5% above that you need a D3 (or, now, a D4). For the final 5% you need a trailer full of lights, a makeup artist, three models and a £5,000 budget.

    More at — the home of Nikon users.

  10. I have to disagree with the premise because the mindset matters more than the gear. If a person thinks like a photojournalist, then s/he will use the smart phone like a photojournalist. That’s already happening; career photojournalists are experimenting with mobile media and apps. If anything, the smart phone and similar gear are opening the field to new approaches.

    What the rise of the smart phone and citizen journalism are doing is driving prices down. Longtime professionals and wannabes like me are complaining about this trend.

  11. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the comparison between the iPhone and point and shoots is that is of camera and phones of approximate equal value. In a couple of years, the $150 – 250 point and shoot camera will be obsolete as camera phones surpass them in quality and convenience. They will probably never replace the upper end digitals with changeable lenses that many professionals use. Some of these cameras can capture dozens of images in a very short time with almost no recovery time for the camera, making it still possible for the photojournalist to choose the best shot out of many. Something the little point and shoot will not allow for, at least at this point.

  12. I have a really good camera that is just sitting around because the pictures on the iPhone takes just as good of pictures…Now video too. Plus I’m the type of guy who hates putting stuff in his pockets so I’ll be leaving the camera at home.

  13. One commenter made a hugely important point: for most people the actual cost of a phone-based camera is the cost of the enabling real-time communications service. This points out the most important aspect of the spread of participation: in the popular arena, photography has shifted from being “a medium” to joining “the media”. Classic photojournalism “frames” images with *editorial* to set context, and with *editing* to set alignment of visual news and visual ideas. But the effort to “be at the right place at the right time” was always basically an industrial problem. Now that there are “affordable adequate eyes” already everywhere with the phone cameras, the most important three things that will happen is that (1) many more millions of people will practice photography enough to get good at it and at informal (opportunistic) journalism; (2) *most* observed behavior, now essentially being broadcast, will seem less and less unusual, making disciplined formal journalism work even harder at “explaining” things that it decides to show; and (3) formal journalism itself, as a practice, will both proliferate and diversify, then become even more “branded” by its practitioners.

  14. I love the infographic. Very informative. I’m intrigued. If we take decent pictures of current events then we have the possibility to make some money from news companies? That’s pretty neat to have the power of photo-journalism in my pocket. I have the Iphone 4 and love the power of its camera, so I’m sure the 4s has amazing capabilities.

  15. Well-designed infographic!

    As a journalist, I’d like to chime in and say that citizen journalism does play a hugely important role in our society. People with iPhones can be inside a situation where professional journalists may not be allowed to go. iPhones are everywhere, ready to shoot any event that occurs, and that’s great. In fact, according to Photoshelter, many professional photographers are beginning to use iPhones as their go-to point-and-shoots as well (not as their professional camera, of course). Plus, with social media’s rise to cultural importance, publications with an online presence allow readers/users to contribute their own photos, opinions, etc. to stay relevant. Many newspapers and magazines didn’t realize this soon enough, and had to shut their doors.

    That being said, I’d like to defend the role of professional photojournalists. Sure they can’t be everywhere and you have to pay them, but photography and journalism are incredible and important CRAFTS. Professionals can respect the craft. Professionals have a set of ethics to hold. Journalists lose their lives in war-torn areas to bring YOU the most honest and accurate depiction of what’s happening in the world. They might not be as mobile, but there’s something to be said for professionalism. Publications need people who are reliable and trustworthy, and I think it’s a huge mistake for the bigger entities to be firing so many journalists.

    Sure, I wish I had an iPhone, but it will never replace my DSLR!

  16. I agree completely. Many people think photography is simply “cool” and let their content get used for free or super cheap, while those who actually have a respect for the medium, the craft, and their own skills are left with no paycheck.

  17. I cannot imagine life without my smartphone. It is very versatile and does so much more than just take great pictures.

  18. At some point, I began to subscribe to the idea of citizen journalism. Its true smartphones and cheap digital cameras are putting technology into the hands of the masses. This is good of course.

    But I believe CJ works for breaking news alone. Its a matter of opportunity – someone just so happens to be at the site of an accident/crime/revolution… and has the ubiquitous smartphone in his/her pocket. In most of these cases, a photojournalist may not have been on the site until much later. So the public gets to witness something firsthand thorough the eyes of this citizen witness.

    But the value of CJ in journalism ends there. I don’t think citizens have the time to follow stories, unearth new stories, document things not in their/public domain. In all of these cases, we still do need good journalists / photojournalists to tell the story. Other citizens are too busy with day-to-day life and jobs to be able to deliver these stories.

    Besides, as others have pointed out in the comments, we do need journalists to sift through the heaps of info thrown into cyberspace by CJs and to come up with comprehensible “stories”. The work of CJs is to disseminate info from the field (frontline) where they happen to be (not choose to be). The job of journalists, as always is to tell the “story” behind all of that info.

    Have no fear, good journalism and journalists will live on, using technology and social media to tell stories.

  19. It is really crazy how everybody now has cameras on them at all times. We are getting tons of cool footage these days that we never used to get. Information overload!