Neurosis as a lifestyle: remixing revisited
Can't they sit still?
Readers had several excellent theories (read them all here), with Andy Toone taking the laurels.
Firstly, said Andy, was the view that "the geek experience somehow supplants all previous culture and creative expression" - hence "piss-poor blogs, flash-rendered animals dancing to looped samples and ultimately the Crazy Frog."
Secondly was the idea that "process is more important than the result, cooler still if it involves a new computer and coolest if blue LEDs are involved."
And thirdly, he reckons, is the belief that accompanies all innovations in media technology - that they'll lead to a utopian future. Revolutionary rhetoric follows new media as sure as spring follows winter.
What makes 'Creative Commons' so emblematic is that it marries a failure to value creativity with its corollary, that creators need not be rewarded - and that's the part that seems to rankle in the artistic community. As another Andy wrote -
"I'd like to see the looks on the faces of these people if their employers decided not to pay them anything anymore. I wonder how many would keep working, and yet they expect artists of every sort to keep producing music, movies, books, paintings, or whatever for free for the benefit of everyone except themselves."
But we may all have a missed a trick or two.
The passion for empty phrases such as "the democratization of the media" - which in practice really means the right to speak but not be heard - has become a proxy for progressive politics itself. The society-changing ambitions of the technology crowd end with the media - and doesn't quite extend to, say, eradicating Hepatatis C on our streets, or preventable infant deaths. But all must have blogs!
NPR is perhaps the best example of this. Listen to this Talk Of The Nation segment to hear how Nick Carr is given a grudging few seconds to rebut half an hour of gibberish about Wikipedia from Wired's Chris Anderson, Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales, and the presenter himself.
Faced with funding threats and a hostile opposition, NPR has decided that singing hymns of praise to technology is an adequate substitute for a tackling real social and political questions. But they don't go away.
The internet evangelists' love of technology today is clear enough - as was, once, the disdain of some of the more extreme modernists for their cultural heritage, and for discussing reality.
This exhortation by Italian Fillippo Marinetti might ring a few bells -
"So let them come, the gay incendiaries with charred fingers! Here they are! Here they are!... Come on! set fire to the library shelves! Turn aside the canals to flood the museums!"
And thirty years later, the trains were running on time. ®
Our Kevin Kelly competition remains open for another 24 hours - hurry, the standard of entries is extremely high. We'll announce the best and the prizewinner on Friday.