Just in case you are still wondering whether you should check out this whole “Social Networking Thing” – too late. It’s way tired. The tides are tiring of Facebook. MySpace has been declared dead. We are now halfway through the Web 2.5 paradigm; there are already so many books at Amazon.com about how to conduct oneself properly on Twitter that they outnumber books on Rocket Science.
In the meantime this whole Creative Commons Lawrence Lessig talked about seems to be finally taking hold. Exhibit A – the meteoric rise in popularity of Flickr.com that arguably saw a spike in numbers due to the fact that bloggers love auto-searching its commercially reuseable photostreams to spice up their otherwise banal output. How about podcasters who don’t make music and who don’t to pay for music? Podsafe sites are sprouting up everywhere – and they work – exposing hundreds if not thousands of indie artists to new audiences. Give it away now, indeed.
Web 1.0 was non-invasive, 1.5 was push, 2.0 – the Superpoke era – totally invasive, 2.5 is condensed and does away with the extra unneeded bells and whistles (be it complex licensing, “Flare” or Superpokes” – which may leave Twitter back at the 2.0 stage) – will 3.0 be customized to you – leaving behind all the trolling through huge atriums of people and their drama and restoring some personal quiet time back to you so you can carry on with… whatever it was you were doing before Status Updates disrupted your life? Well, there is at least A generation that doesn’t remember a time without status updates so this point may be moot.
3.0 will likely understand “you” much more succinctly and endeavor to cater to your needs with micro-precision. It will comprise the evolution of the Tastemaker age. You will type “dinner and a movie” into your search line and it will play concierge to your tastes and preferences – serving up not only menus and addresses and reservations for the restaurants that you love, but potential dates and friends available and compatible to accompany you there.
Marshall McLuhan said “you become what you observe” – and I fear that the more we are catered to, the less we are exposed to unforeseen variables, the more homogeneous and narrow our tastes will become. Nonetheless, I will be happy to do without the time sink of being tossed around in the choppy waves of the collective id-sourced drama. Sure you can tell me it’s my choice, that I can just turn it off and do something else, but I have ideas and works to promote and the old way of doing things holds no water. I mean – post flyers up? Take an ad out in the Weekly?
How do you think Web 3.0 will operate?
“Shut all the blinds
You mighta been seen
With your internet dream
Winning the race
For your digital fix
Living your life
With a clickity-click
“So every day I swear
I’m gonna go to bed at like eleven.
And all of a sudden its 4AM . . .
And I was just watching Youtube and
reading Wikipedia for five hours.
It’s like MAN . . . you ask me the
next day. I can’t even remember
what I was doin. Crazy.”
– Tay Zonday “Internet Dream”
(writer of Chocolate Rain)
*author deftly opens his umbrella to protect himself against the thundering Chocolate Rain*
I have had the good fortune to attend a wide variety of so-called new media conferences, hear people who drive the “content market” speak about the present and future of the various “media distribution platforms”, how to “drive traffic” to your site, using Web 2.0 social networking sites to make friends where you would have previously just been tossing spam into the anonymous gray mass of stats , the importance of making your site interactive and sticky, how long visitors will wait for a page to load (3.2 seconds) and the importance of viral marketing.
They usually call out YouTube as the de facto turning point and how “anyone in America, and the world for that matter” can now “make movies with their cell phones” with the hopes that they will become the next “Chocolate Rain,” “Star Wars Kid,” “Lolcats,” “Tron Guy,” or that weird snaggle-toothed Japanese girl who just stares into her webcam and draws millions of views for doing seemingly nothing (it helps that she has a big rack). Now a site like TubeMogul allows you to instantly upload your homemade insertion into the pantheon of filmmaking to virtually all the major “video aggregation and distribution sites” our there including Vimeo, MetaCafe, DailyMotion, How-To Cast, MySpace, Revver, and of course YouTube.
Have you caught on yet? This blog entry is one big fat collection of keywords, something used in “SEO” (search engine optimization” and to promote higher “CTR” (click-through ratios) for my “affiliate ads” (but, you know this already) – another thing that they talk about behind the velvet curtain which now seems to enfold pretty much anyone else sitting at home bored and lonely and wondering how to get everyone’s attention.
And when they do, they realize they have not yet figured out how to “monetize” all this traffic. ROFLcon, which took place at MIT this year was a conference for all the people who somehow managed to garner said attention for one reason or another and came together to figure out what to do when the general public shows up and says “Here we are now, entertain us.” That’s all well and good but unfortunately the creators of these phenomena forgot to hire a door person with a cash box.
This is not leading to a discussion on “how to monetize you content” so much as it is underlining William Gibson‘s astute assertion that the very idea of Fame is becoming extinct due to it massive over inflation; if everyone is famous, then really, no one can truly be famous. Everyone is broadcasting and those same people might be watching. But are they watching, or are they trying to figure out how the hell these heat-seekers pulled it off? Well that was then. So I get to my point: we now have this glut of Web 2.0 “guerilla marketing” -savvy ingenues who will stoop to progressively lower depths to grab a piece of the “eyeballs” / “asses in seats” pie. It makes me feel like I ate way too much cotton candy with my mustard-covered hot dog.
It isn’t even the “content” that bothers me. It’s that fact that everyone thinks that they can somehow pull the wool over everyone else’s eyes using the above mechanics. It’s not just preaching to the choir, it is an infection in the culture. It is indeed a virus in the system, that thrives at the expense of its host, adapts rapidly to any form of inoculation and then proliferates to any other candidate that comes within range.
Snap out of it folks, you’re having a bad fever dream. You have tools at your disposal that defy the imagination of your former self ten years ago. You are Marshall McLuhan‘s cautionary observation that the medium becomes the message – your very source has become your pitch, you are making trailers for things that don’t exist, like specters that haunt the territory where they died – but lest you click-away at my posting yet one more iteration of that now tired cliche – recognize that I am appealing to you to bring something to the table.
Forget viral marketing. Forget spending your days and nights checking your visitor stats; these activities have supplanted the very act of creating itself! Make things. Make things that come from you. If you still have something within that you can remember being distinctly your own, then call on it. Viral videos are so DRM ago.
"Keram makes excursions into almost every style of music imaginable here and does it with such flair that these very pleased ears, he could have settled on any of these genres and made just as brilliant a record." - Mark Rheaume, CBC Radio