<videovortex> [Fwd: the anti web 2.0 manifesto]

Adrian Miles vogmae at gmail.com
Sat Sep 29 00:59:43 CEST 2007

around the 27/9/07 niels van doorn mentioned about Re: <videovortex> 
[Fwd: the anti web 2.0 manifesto] that:
>Is this for real? i mean, seriously, is the author trying to revive 
>Adorno's cultural elitism/pessimism in relation to a grossly 
>oversimplified view of what Web 2.0 stands for? Sure, there are 
>dangers in any form of uncritical optimism regarding the 'democratic 
>possibilities' of user-generated content, but this attack on 
>participatory (network) culture seems equally uncritical of its own 
>narrow definition of 'culture' and those who supposedly bear 
>responsibility for it. In fact, this manifesto mainly evokes its 
>smelly roots in political/moral conservatism.
>i hope this is a joke..

alas not a joke. There is a book which has attracted a lot of 
attention (particularly in the United States). I think most of it 
just misunderstands Web 2.0 and its ethics. For example, the first 

around the 27/9/07 Annet Dekker mentioned about <videovortex> [Fwd: 
the anti web 2.0 manifesto] that:
>The cult of the amateur is digital utopianism's most seductive
>delusion. This cult promises that the latest media technology in the
>form of blogs, wikis and podcasts will enable everyone to become widely
>read writers, journalists, movie directors and music artists. It
>suggests, mistakenly, that everyone has something interesting to say.

I don't think there is anything in the rise of Web 2, citizen media, 
produsage or whatever the heck you call it, that says we will all be 
widely read. In fact I think it is almost the opposite of this. 
Anyone can produce and distribute content, and there might be some 
others interested (family, friends, fans, so on) but it does not 
follow that this also implies big media scales. There are certainly 
lots using these things to try to enter big media, or to find an 
alternative to big media (think of rocketboom - it's been on CSI, 
it's had a scandal, it probably makes money, it is sort of TV that 
uses RSS and the web as its primary platform), and lots of 
videobloggers making content in the hope they land a studio deal, but 
that is not why most are video blogging, or blogging.

Also it is not that all have something interesting to say. The 
argument confuses equality of publication and distribution (my blog 
is as close or distant to anyone else as anyone else's blog) with 
quality of content. They're different things. It's like saying that 
because all these magazines are on the same stand at the newsagent 
that they're all got the same thing to say or are trying for the same 
audienece. They're not. Good material in these enviroments is 
specialised. Whether it's my sisters photos or a theory blog that is 
intelligent. Neither have a space outside of Web 2.

Anyway, the bigger gripe I have is that the whole thing is so bathed 
in North American assumptions about what the web is, and even things 
like cult of the amateur. It just smacks of the whole 'anyone can be 
president' sort of odd egalitarianism which assumes 'natural' ability 
which will of itself rise to the surface of its own accord. Hence 
this idea that if i post to YouTube and my work is good it will 
garner attention and so by definition prove that I'm good. This sort 
of slippage between popular media (and media in general) and high art 
just doesn't work, so he makes category errors where popular media, 
and populist media, are seen to bring the death of value because this 
will determine the values of high art, popular art etc. (going in 
circles here.)

I guess I don't see why this argument would be no different to saying 
that popular/populist journalism would lead to the death of 
literature (it didn't/hasn't), or that TV will kill cinematic art 
(um, no, indeed the rise of cable has lead to a tv renaissance 
witnesses by Sex in the City, Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, and 
so on). Enough. It's Neil Postman updated.

Adrian Miles
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