Somewhere, somewhen, in one of the many worlds implied by Hugh Everett’s relative state formulation there is a pleasingly-straight-fringed, happy-go-lucky and financially viable young man writing a blog called The Noughties Were Ace.
Right at the top of his list, exhibit #1, is the vast network of mediated social interactions that are often referred to as web 2.0.
Twitter, Facebook, the blogosphere, wikipedia, collaborative authorship… these are wonderful things with wonderful repercussions. They are Timothy Leary’s Intelligence2 made a reality, Intelligence studying Intelligence; every digital interaction between two people operating like a fired neural impulse in a gigantic overmind that is open to anyone with a broadband account and the urge to discover its power. Interactions between groups are even more efficient, multiplying exponentially the power of communications technology to drastically reshape every aspect of our lives.
And he’s right – that lucky, alternative universe dwelling bastard, sitting there without a horrible cold counting his money and awards – he’s right. Web 2.0 is ace. It is transformative and extraordinary and it would be the height of petty, pompous negativity to criticise the minor effects of it’s extremities in the face of its otherwise awesomeness.
It’s just that… well… comments: they’re annoying aren’t they?
Because comments look like they are judiciously breaking down the walls between the elite and the people and giving everyone a voice – but they aren’t: they are mainly just giving a voice to the kind of person who wants to passively comment on things.
Not uniformly. Sometimes comments can be brilliant – like when you write a bombastic post about how much you love Carter and someone rightly assumes that you’d want to know that they’re with you. I liked that. They can function like points of information, give right of reply, right of correction. They’re a great idea that often works fine.
But then, there’s the kind of person who used to write to points of view. The kind of person who comes up to you after a gig and wants to talk to you about machine heads. The kind of person who believes that ‘constructive criticism’ is always welcome…
Well, it isn’t, right? Nobody will ever really want your constructive criticism. I definitely won’t. If I did want it, then I’d to travel Okinawa, climb up a mountain with two full buckets of water suspended from a yoke and beg every day for your constructive criticism while you rap me across the head with a zen stick and call me an arrogant pup. If you’re willing to dispense it for less – it’s no good to me. Even if you are right it will just make me petulant and rebellious and want to not improve on purpose just to spite you.
Even worse are the people who have spent every day since they left university working on a highly personal, grand unified theory of social cohesion that they like to use to bludgeon people with in comments sections only tangentially connected to their argument.
“ha, I see that you consider Dogtanian to be epic win -well, isn’t it the case that the imperialist messages inherent in Dumas’ work can be traced ultimately to the machinations of Blair and his illegal war..?” – you know the sort of thing.
We have been left with a comments culture where the news doesn’t feel like it’s been reported until Brian from Chepstow has called it disgusting and sent in a photo of it snowing. Web 2.0 was a test to see if we could we embrace the best of the noughties without grubbily spoiling it with our self-absorbed desire to piss on everything and we failed. Even when the noughties were ace, they were a bit shit.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to say in the comments section of that alternative-universe me’s blog. That’ll show him, the smug tosspot.
Anyway, here is the Intro to Dogtanian. It is epic win.