Wednesday, August 12, 2009

shards of privilege

Recently I have stumbled onto a great blog, well a vlog really called: This could be old hat for some of you but I have been visiting it regularly lately. Basically it is a site that takes experts from various fields and through the wonders of telecommunication, they are able to have , what they call a "diavlog" (which I think is not only appropriate but notably clever) at different points on the globe about various issues. So in effect you may have a historical religious expert debating the Middle East conflict with a journalist or an economist discussing matters of psychology with a disciple of Freud, this may sound incongruous but to allow the powers of the internet to get intelligent people of different expertise to discuss matters that are not only important but typically interesting is a brilliant idea and in my opinion one of the more beneficial employments of the potentialities of the internet that have come about. A site who's m.o. is to capture a dialogue to then be commented on by its viewers, is a great idea. Admittedly I do find some things about the self promotion and momentary ego-centrism that can occur with some of the sites participants, it is easy to dismiss that for the overall good of this service.

So, in searching the site's archive and watching the past "diavlog" about both Obama's election victory and his inauguration, I got to thinking. Not only is the internet a vast and indispensable tool to archive thing in the past, as far away as the earliest written texts that have survived to exist in our physical archive, now digitized, but of the instant archive-ization (pardon the made up term here) that the internet provides and has so quickly seeped into its users consciousness. The power of being a personal, self sustaining media source is one that we have not yet realized the implications of, the long term effects have not been measured. The historical steps to have thoughts ripple out in the world has been given concrete shoes and thrown over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Most forms of cultural record keeping that I can think of off the top of my head while writing this seem to have been bound to only record what is perceivable in hind sight. This activity usually done by the elite, either appointed, in a privileged position (by being born into a economic class to afford the education)to do so, or highly intelligent and recognized by a collective as the man for the job. The world wide web shatters that privilege. The resulting shards of privilege changing into a universal right. Access to the internet is the most sought after "right" of the 21st Century. I am writing here in terms of typical Western concerns and by no means want to down play any human rights issues that still plague our species. But for those privileged enough to live in societies where the internet is both omnipresent and omnipotent this self entitled "right" may seem equally as real to someone who is ill-concerned with anything other than their own immediate gratification (which could be argued is at a higher concentration in a population in a Western society), may seem as close to contributing to their own survival as say workers rights in China. I realize that this is (hopefully) an exaggeration but it is so to make the point.

What will pan out from the access to the archive of the perpetual present. Television shows or even commercials no longer die and cascade down into an abyss of obscurity, they are online. When a defining cultural event happens, within the hour a cultural critique has already been played out by not only the culture in which it has happened but by outside cultures as well. I acknowledge that the spread of differing cultures around the world via the internet can plausibly contribute to more cultural and ethnic tolerance, anyone who is a reasonable individual should want such an outcome. But the immediate and thorough critique of culture on all scales is one that we have already become accustomed to since the internet was offered on a hand held device, now already almost perfected as it seems by Apple and others. It will improve but the hand held internet market has had a hell of a good start for this present infantile period of existence.

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