I received a delightful email from former Fairfax Fashion Editor Janice Breen Burns yesterday, telling me that her new fashion commentary website Voxfrock is now up and running. I've long been a fan of Jan's writing and perspective, but I'm very much looking forward to reading her work now that she is able to express it more freely than she might have otherwise on someone else's masthead.

One of the great perks of self publishing is exactly that - you're your own publisher, you're not accountable to anyone else. Your own opinion can flourish, without being edited by the agendas of others. Now don't get me wrong, this is fraught with issues too (hello, twitter trolls), but it does allow us, the people, a great deal more say.

Much has been made of the move away from traditional print publications to online, particularly in Jan's sphere of fashion. I see this new style of independance as being increasingly critical in a media landscape full of vested interests and obscured corporate agendas. Call me crazy, but I can't help feel that transparent and honest communications on issues as they relate to PEOPLE rather than CORPORATIONS is an important part of a democractic system and critical to the way our society operates.

Yesterday also marked the final time Jan's former employer The Age will distribute their print publication in its extended format, giving way to the bulk of content being delivered online, supplemented by a smaller midweek print run. The end of an era for many, including a number of staff.

As incomprehensible as it may seem for the likes of The Age (or fashion equivalent Vogue) to no longer hold such strong influence, there will likely be a time in the future where print publications simply don't exist. The balance of influence has already shifted percetibly. Small, agile publications (bloggers, tweeters, independent online platforms) are fast gaining ground on their larger, burocratic cousins and threatening to overrun things.

Case in point: i don't watch the news. I don't read the papers (except Saturday's Age, despite the fact it isn't as good as it once was). I subscribe to a selection of niche, mostly independent print publications. I read a great deal of online content - from large and small publishers and persons of interest. My opinions are not being formed by the publications folks once relied on for their connection with the world at large. I publish my own content on several different channels including this one.

Does this mean that I, as a self publisher, should be held to the same ethical standards as these larger outlets (once were)? That means transparency, honesty, balanced opinion, critical thinking, full disclosure. To me, the answer is yes.

This gives me a great deal more responsibility - to read widely, to think carefully and to navigate my way purposefully through the maze of content available to me. It means I need to be much more active as a consumer and creator of content. It means investigating, forming my own opinions - independent of opinions of those I'm reading - and thinking critically. 

The age of passive consumption has passed - of media and everything else. I hope others will take this opportunity become more active in the way they (and others) view their world, the information they consume and share, and the way they participate in the society they inhabit.

Are you a self publisher or an active media consumer? Do you take this seriously? Or should we forget about that and just keep babbling?

Melbourne's Most Influential, Inspiring and Creative 2011

Almost this time last year I wrote a post about the most inspiring people I'd met throughout 2010. This was prompted by my feeling that the version published by The Age missed the mark and was not at all representative of the true calibre of people in our fair city.I'm pleased to say that in 2011 I was asked by a journalist friend of mine, Greg Foyster, (a contributor to The Age (melbourne) magazine) to nominate those people I felt to be some of the most amazing in Melbourne. Happily, the published list was overflowing with some pretty incredible people. The likes of Ehon Chan, Kate Kendall, Chantal Baxter, Juliette Anich, Zoe Condliffe, Anisha Bhoyoro, Nerida Lennon and Emma Grace have all made my year brighter and made it onto their final 100 list.

I couldn't resist the need to add a few extras that I've come across this year, either personally or professionally. Granted, this list is quite skewed to my own interests and my own circles but I feel these people are all worthy additions to the list of who's who of Melbourne.

Kate Luckins

Sustainable fashion academic and founder of The Clothing Exchange, Kate has been a valued mentor and an inspiration as I continue my work in the sector. I'm also super excited to see how her next venture - Project Otherwise - will evolve, and delighted share an office with her and to spend time with her gorgeous baby boy Jensen and husband Soren.

Samantha Hardman

A former banker, Samantha took a huge risk just over 12 months ago and left the corporate world to pursue her dream to run Bento - a clothing line concerned with quality, timelessness and local production. She creating beautiful garments in a manner that is environmentally and socially sustainable and giving us an insight into the fashion industry from a refreshingly honest perspective on the labels blog. (Her husband Charles, also an ex-banker, took a similar risk establishing 100th Gallery - a space for up and coming artists.)

Genna Campton

Melbourne-based illustrator Genna creates beautiful things. Using her mixed skills in design and her talent as an illustrator she has been featured in many a print magazine and has had her work pop up all over the place - including the Melbourne Tweed Ride logo. She is also one of the sweetest people I've spent time with this year.

Jan Stewart

As the host of Hub Melbourne, Jan has brought a beautiful feeling to a dynamic space. Her beautiful serenity, care for others and genuine interest in the members has been a welcome addition to one of my favourite places to work. She has also encouraged me to bring some much needed mindfulness into my life which she blogs about. This also very welcome and something I'll be working on in 2012.

David Seignor

I was fortunate to enjoy the boundless energy of Dave every week in his role as the Facilitator of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership Fellowship I completed this year. Also a passionate educator, creator and helps people think outside the square through his consultancy Play Think. He's been a great sounding board and a friendly ear through a challenging 2011.

Sheeple Liberator

I stumbled across an amazing blog on the internets this year. The mystery lady behind some of the most on the money articles I've read this year is insightful, sometimes controversial and not afraid to swim against the current. I'm yet to meet the man behind the mask but I love the approach and the content covered - so much so that it prompted a fan rant email! I really encourage you to have a look! http://sheepleliberator.wordpress.com/

Pip Carroll

Melbourne Bike Fest Director Pip is a one woman powerhouse. Driving many of the city's bike related events and greatly contributing to the growing cycling community, Pip was happy to team up with me and other members of the Tweed Trust to deliver a record breaking Melbourne Tweed Ride in 2011. Inclusive, generous, positive and inexhaustible, she has all the qualities she needs for 2012 when baby Carroll is due to arrive!

Sarah Rose

I met Sarah somewhat fortuitously through the maze of twitter. A qualified social worker and survivor of an unexpected severe illness, we connected instantly and I found conversations with her insightful and inspiring. So much so that I needed weekly catch ups with her! Having prototyped her services as a lifecoach on me she is amazing for holistic physical/mental health and has a great understanding of the need for mindfulness, a good work/life balance, and the importance of quality relationships in life. Plus she writes a great blog on these subjects and more. Check out http://innerbeam.blogspot.com/

Sarah Dingwall

Mornington Peninsula local Sarah is a photographer, glass artist and lover of beautiful things. I've regularly been lost on her blog for hours, entranced by all the stunning things she makes and comes across. So much so that she (along with Genna Campton) was at the top of my list of people to engage when I became engaged last month. Can't wait to have her beautiful handiwork surrounding us on our special day! Who has been the most inspiring person you've met this year? Who have I missed? What makes someone an inspiration to you?