Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No Barrier to Entry

I was in Groupdraw thinking how neat it would be if we had more tools at our disposal. Like for example if you could have more options in terms of filling in backgrounds with colors. If you could click one color in the drawing and have all instances of that color change instead of just the spot where you clicked. See how useful that could be? Whatever. Anyway, so then I started thinking about that and realized just how disastrous that could be. One click and you could unintentionally ruin something you or someone else was working on. Sort of like altering the genes of some agricultural product only to later find out that—wait. Anyway, I realized that maybe it’s best we only have a limited set of tools and nobody has too much influence over others, especially unintentional.

Bill O’Really just about had a heart attack on camera over some liberal blogger’s attack on whomever it was because he despairs the amount of influence someone who is not him could have. He dug up a bad photo of the blogger and showed it on air explaining that it’s a complete outrage people can just do and say anything they want who aren’t in the employ of Rupert Murdoch. But this is nothing new. In the old days, small villages would have poison pen letters, which would be when some person would write disparaging or ill-meaning words about people anonymously. There’s a great film by the French director Clouzot about this called Le Corbeau (The Raven). Whatever. The point is the fear that too much power is being wielded is like the fear of illegal immigration. The problem will take care of itself.

Because there is no barrier to entry, the internet will soon be just as full if not more full of, well, everything, that it will become the same as reality, minus the touchy feely tasty part. It has the sound and vision already. Eventually, enough voices will emerge until each single voice will have no more of an impact than it would in proportion to real-world society. Part of the reason people like O’Really get so upset is based on an overestimation of what a “hit” really means. A “hit” doesn’t mean squat. It doesn’t mean the person believes what they see or that they even read one sentence of it. I can tell you from the trenches, when I look at my stat logs, most people who visit my site only spend about three seconds, maybe four if I’m lucky, and that number isn’t rising. Now it could be that’s just my writing speaking for itself, but I tend to think it’s probably like that all around. One cannot equate “hit” with impact. I have asked many times on my site for the head of Alfredo Garcia on a platter, and still, no one has brought it to me.

And so as more and more sites emerge, it becomes no different than say, when you’re watching T.V. and there are a thousand channels. You see some talking head you don’t like, you move on to another one who annoys you slightly less or perhaps looks like Anderson Cooper. Or perhaps is Anderson Cooper. Look at that. How did that happen? Or maybe you stay and watch the jerk, in order to cringe in bewilderment and perverted ecstasy, like when I watch Sean Hannity. It’s like picking at a scab. Anyway these internet sites, with all their “hits” and semi-anonymous rants and semi-anonymous leaders are merely reflections of the real world with all its cult leaders and demagogues. Such personalities existed long before the internet, and will continue to exist now. Perhaps the internet will enable some who lack physical charisma, who would have been string-pullers from behind the scenes in earlier days, to benefit from the e-veil. But again, a “hit” does not equal a “vote.” Please consider that it’s a lot easier to click with your mouse every four seconds than it is to drive to a polling booth. That requires gas, and gas is expensive, even if it is a god-given right.

In the end, I believe it will all be just like it was before. Religious leaders and politicians will blog. Bloggers will preach. And cable will still cost too much. And we’ll still pay it. It may be true that print will yield much ground to electronic media. But the power in society will simply migrate from one to the other. Once it all settles, bloggers will merely reflect the forces of the real world.

If you’re worried the internet has too much influence, take for example pedophilia. While it’s true the internet does facilitate the coming together of like-minded people afflicted with this disease, it also provides law enforcement with a means for them to get “help,” by being caught. It isn’t as if the mere presence of this tool has caused pedophilia to occur (ancient Greece? Rome? The Senate?) nor to suddenly become acceptable in society. In the same way, nations develop ever more destructive weapons to fight wars. We don’t say those weapons are the cause of our desire to fight wars, nor do we say war is becoming more acceptable to society because of the ease with which it occurs. It must be cool, right? Because look how much we’re spending on it? No. Human beings are human beings. They didn’t change overnight because of some cables being stuck together. Of course, a little ctrl-Z wouldn’t hurt though every once in a while. At least on the groupdraw.

1 comment:

gawker user #3784 said...

but it will never be like the real world completely to the extent that the barrier to sharing one person's ideas with the rest of the world will be forever diminished. yes, it's true that the relative impact of one voice will be less amid a growing number of voices. but the fact still remains, one voice can connect directly and without mediation, albeit electronically, with anyone who chooses to click a button. this is new.

 


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