Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Web 2.0 is mass media NOT culture

What do you get when you mix culture and democracy?  The categories of culture stop existing.

Look at the IMBD listing of the top 250 movies depending on user votes.  See see things like:

Network (1976) has the same score as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) but both movies are not as good as The Lion King (1994) ???????  These are all also not as good in terms of voting as the The Matrix (1999).

The problem is that when a person makes a list of their favorite movies or books or art pieces they will include one of their own guilty pleasures.  If I was to make a list of my 10 favorite pieces of fiction I might be tempted to include Sci Fi pulp like Ian M. Banks's "Look to Windward".  But in the context of culture, for classes or in a group of critics I would no to compose my lists of top novels without references to Banks's book.  I learned this in University and over time have learned how to speak with other people about culture, I have also learned how to sort and separate  files I like, like the Matrix from  films that change the way we think like Network.  The two films both take for their name a system of nodes and connections, but one is on an entirely different level, more serious, more brilliant and more insightful.  They both play with the same fears but Network shows you that the fears are subtle, that your culture is working on you in ways you don't understand.  Matrix uses them in comic books. 

The thing about Web 2.0 culture is these means of refining our evaluations don't work.  You are asked to vote for a movie.  So maybe you go to a movie, see it, love it, go vote on the IMDB and give it the kind of score people give movies after they see them.  The collection of these views creates a collective stupidity and not wisdom.  The emergent network wisdom is not only not there, it is clear that as a group on the Internet IMDB voters have no collective idea at all what a good movie is."
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