How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Web 2.0
By Ed Driscoll · February 20, 2006 12:15 PM · The Future and its Enemies
In the Weekly Standard, Andrew Keen looks at Web 2.0, a bloggish attempt to bring Web publishing to the masses.
Keen explores the downside of such a proposition:
So what, exactly, is the Web 2.0 movement? As an ideology, it is based upon a series of ethical assumptions about media, culture, and technology. It worships the creative amateur: the self-taught filmmaker, the dorm-room musician, the unpublished writer. It suggests that everyone--even the most poorly educated and inarticulate amongst us--can and should use digital media to express and realize themselves. Web 2.0 "empowers" our creativity, it "democratizes" media, it "levels the playing field" between experts and amateurs. The enemy of Web 2.0 is "elitist" traditional media.The Vertigo reference is curious. Hitchcock himself thought the film was a bomb, because, 20 years before VCRs first appeared, the film failed to make money during its initial run at the box office. (Hitchcock attributed its failure to Jimmy Stewart's aged appearance, but its themes may have been just too dark to connect with a 1950s-era mass audience.)
Vertigo became a cult hit only later, because critics eventually recognized how many of Hitch's obsessive themes he brilliantly explored within the movie, and they managed to convince enough people to go back and give it a second look, via revival houses, late night TV movie airings, and eventually, videotape and now DVDs.
In other words, it wasn't a hit because Paramount said This Is The Big Film To See In 1958! Quite the contrary: Paramount's attempts to promote the film failed. But word of mouth ultimately prevailed.
The same thing is happening on the Web: the stars of the Blogosphere (insert your favorites here: InstaPundit, Hewitt, Lileks, LGF, Roger Simon, etc., etc.) have built-up large followings because they do consistently great work which strikes a chord with their audiences. Cream rises to the top. And it doesn't necessarily take a mass media promoting it to succeed these days.
More from Keen:
One of the unintended consequences of the Web 2.0 movement may well be that we fall, collectively, into the amnesia that Kafka describes. Without an elite mainstream media, we will lose our memory for things learnt, read, experienced, or heard. The cultural consequences of this are dire, requiring the authoritative voice of at least an Allan Bloom, if not an Oswald Spengler. But here in Silicon Valley, on the brink of the Web 2.0 epoch, there no longer are any Blooms or Spenglers. All we have is the great seduction of citizen media, democratized content and authentic online communities. And weblogs, course. Millions and millions of blogs.But you can't put the genie back in the bottle: the mass media began to splinter in the 1970s with the birth of cable TV and the first dial-up computer bulletin board systems. It's only going to continue, and accelerate.
Sadly, that means less and less shared culture. But would you like to go back to the alternative? Three TV networks, one or two big city newspapers, a handful of music radio stations, no viable talk radio, no Internet, no blogs, no fun.
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