The Web 2.0 generation is the iPod generation. It is the MySpace and YouTube generation. It is the self-centered model of information production. These days are the days where one of my crazy rants can be read by dozens of people unrelated to me.
As bloggers, we are the grunts of a new faction. We are producers of information, may it be entertainment, news, public action, or just as an artform for self-expression. The table has turned from the large, centralized corporate information producers–the mainstream press and the media cartels–to you. And you can do basically whatever the hell you want.
Don’t be fooled for a second that we can exist without these big media guys. Still, life with people who blog, people who comment, people who aggregate blogs, links across them, and most of all–everyone who reads these things, contributing things, building up more things from the bare bones of everyday life (or even from the mass media) to form this new information ecology–makes a better world. Instead of caring for Tom Cruise, you get to care for your fellow bloggers, commenters, or just care about Tom Cruise all together (for example). It’s no longer about random things as much as it is about a group of people caring about random things. A community. An ongoing dialogue.
It may just be that I’ve been stuck in school for way too long, but this entire process reeks of academic peer-review publications, and how professors and researchers use these publications to build your next idea…it just seems natural. People critique each other in publications this way just as well as they collaborate to work on the same idea. This is a different community than, say, BBC and CNN; or TNT and Oxygen; definitely not FOX or NHK. It’s closer to 2ch or Slashdot, but not quite. What’s the difference? The long tail.
The ability of the internet to bring geographically isolated people who share similar interest together is the crux. I think in a macrocosm of American anime fans (for example), topically you’ll see a lot of people into Yugioh, Digimon, Final Fantasy, or what have you. Zooming in to any random segment and you’ll see the Naruto, FMA, or old fashion Ninja Scroll and Akira folks. Zooming in even more and you’ll see the digisubbing viewer mixed in all of that, the diversification of fandom expressed in cosplayers, fanartists, web comic people, and online personalities.
But is the anime blog community a reflection of that? Not quite so. I think within these sites there’s a conflict of sites who tend to “centralize” and sites that “diversify.” It’s a reflection of an instinct of people who wants to “syndicate” and people who relinquish that kind of editorial power to their readers. We have sites like Something Awful or Blogsuki which acts like filters, yet at the same time as censors. The Slashdots and Diggs today get around that by aggregating some kind of democratic response, but invariably they compromise on the same as well.
I suppose the criticism I have is that the lone dissenters today, just as they would decades ago, are still unheard. It is vastly improved in that they could be heard today, but the democratic process of filtering will still wash them out, and there’s no guarantee that a tightly-controlled, power-to-a-few-editors kind of process will improve exchanges of thought.
Then again, I think that’s also the case in academia. But somehow, merit speaks volumes more than appeal when the purpose is to discover truths rather than to entertain? Are there truths to be harvested in this medium, or are we just drones spewing meritless trash so we can claim we update regularly? Just because anime bloggers, invariably, flock to new stuff, is that why we don’t have much in terms of blogging older series? Is this the fingerprint of the god of Relevance? What is the state of the anime blog nation today?
Perhaps, the answer is a simple, “it doesn’t matter.” Perhaps it does; I don’t know. Maybe we’re at the right stage of the game given the size, but you can see it happening in various online communities even today. Still, a pinch of selfish interest is the way to go.
This is a continuing series of random stuff about blogging. Hit the “blogging” tag to see some of the previous entries!