Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Parties, seriousness and the death of Web 2.0

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  • James Green,

    I don't know if the web has really improved my prose skills, but all this typing has certainly destroyed my already pretty poor handwriting...

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    We also tend to discount the leap in literacy that has accompanied the mainstreaming of the internet. Yes, you did read that right. How many of us, even us pros, wrote as much 10 years ago as we do now? How many of us ever participated in the kind of lengthy prose debates you see on Public Address System?

    That doesn't quite equate with 'literacy' though, does it? The overall standard of written communication has had a slow leak for many, many decades. Even many of the scribes at this city's leading - make that *only* - daily, no longer seem to understand something as basic as the difference between a comma and a full stop, let alone correct or even consistent usage of apostrophes, semi-colons or square brackets.

    I've probably made one or two grammatical errors in this comment, but at least it's easy to read and the meaning clear. Much of what's published these days doesn't even reach that level.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Russell - I wish you would edit Metro! Especially if they get an editor that turns into a clone of the Listener..

    I find it ironic that a traditionally lightweight lifestyle mag (Metro) now has more interesting, thought-provoking comment in it that an allegedly serious news magazine (the Listener).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    From the Wired Blog:

    4. A particularly unfashionable thought: big media is not bad media. The big media engine of the Hollywood studios, the major record labels and publishing houses has discovered and branded great 20th century popular artists of such as Alfred Hitchcock, Bono and W.G. Sebald (the “Vertigo” three). It is most unlikely that citizen media will have the marketing skills to discover and brand creative artists of equivalent prodigy.

    What twaddle....perhaps in film, but in my industry of interest, music, the five most important events of the past fifty years, being The Beatles, Motown, the UK Punk revolution , Hip Hop and the electronic transformation of the mid to late eighties, all of which changed the audio world, came from popular movements driven from the streets, or sharp innovators outside the system, and were picked up by media giants reluctantly. Innovation has rarely, if ever, come from the majors.And the branding is usually little more than urban plagiarism.

    Bono?.....for fux sake......

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Keen sounds like another cash-in. Only those already net-literate will care a hoot what he says, and most of them will disagree. But he will get plenty of agreement from oldies like my Dad, who loves to jump up and find some obscure book on his shelves that's about 20 years old, and search for ages to find the answer to some disputed fact, rather than finding it instantly with a Google search.

    What's his plan? I mean all that he despises is happening anyway. Sadly lamenting the changing world is certainly a popular pastime for the elderly, but it's as ineffective as it's ever been.

    And bugger him, I'm definitely more interested in Pamela Anderson than Emmeline Pankhurst. Any time I want to hear about epiphanies I'd certainly like to be able to hear the 11-year-old's ones every bit as much as Martin Luther's. Sounds like he's just lamenting not having mastered search buttons.

    As with all Luddites, I'm sure he's got some valid points, albeit not the slightest bit new.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • jon_knox,

    I watched "Good night & good luck" yesterday and am struck by the similarities between new technology today and new technology in history.

    I'd suggest that the pervasiveness & stickiness of technology are key pieces of evidence indicating that our culture and economy is being changed rather than being killed. The fact that the changes are being so widely adopted suggests to me that the changes are in many ways beneficial.

    Keen may indeed have some valid points, but I'd suggest hiding them is not the best way for those points to be examined.

    Belgium • Since Nov 2006 • 464 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    Innovation has rarely, if ever, come from the majors.And the branding is usually little more than urban plagiarism.

    Bono?.....for fux sake......

    Heh, right on.

    He might've got away with it if he hadn't mentioned Bono.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Nobody Important,

    I don't think I'll win, but I didn't think I'd win in 2005 and 2006 either, so I guess it's as well that I'm actually going along this time.

    Oh dear, by actually going you have just jinxed your chances of winning.

    So MySpace is mostly trivial...

    Just like television, and the radiola before it ...

    Bono?.....for fux sake......

    Why does everyone hate Bono so much?

    expat • Since Mar 2007 • 319 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Common,

    and search for ages to find the answer to some disputed fact, rather than finding it instantly with a Google search.

    Ahhh but what is your confidence level that the answer that google has provided you is right? Either way you are putting yourself in the hands of third party providers for answers, with the main difference that the book would have had to go through a lot more "vetting" before being published than a web page refered to by google.

    I deal with my fair share of luddites on a day to day basis :-)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 62 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Bono - glasses - pretentious moi?

    I remember reading somewhere that the British Tabloids used a vocabulary of ~100 words.

    So yes I agree the newsgroups back in the day and now the blogs and comments pages really have improved literacy.

    What's more interesting is the way people construct ideas on the web now. When folks discuss (argue even) they frequently reference facts and construct logical thoughts around ideas. Not always but frequently. For me the rise of peoples ability to discuss an issue of interest is the coolest thing about the internet. It allows people discuss and learn how to discuss.

    The print media fails in this - yes it's nice to get expert opinions from the print media - but I'll take vigorous discussion on the blog pages over that, 9 times out of 10.

    My only complaint - the way words get abused, but then I'm a pedant:). Infantilising????? really!

    cheers
    Bart

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • David MacGregor,

    Literacy seems to be a term that covers a multiude of sins. My seven year old daughter reads with ease at a level her teachers fete (and not a baby Mozart product in sight). But what counts most is not her capacity to consume the works of Theodore Giesel or Billy Shakespeare but her ability to navigate the world.

    Her world is different to ours when we were her age. Her literacy enables her to sing along with gusto to an incredible repertoire of songs on SingStar. She is able to decode complex instructions like those on the excellent BrainPop.com website. She is able to discuss things and make wonderfully fresh connections between the various ideas she learns in her rich media grazing. While the things she reads are different to what we read (though I am glad to say she enjoys Where the wild things are - the key is that reading is the key that unlocks the world - not one that keeps people out.

    I have a feeling she will never defer to an 'expert' opinion because she has always had easy access to another point of view. That is the future for us all. The Literatii with a capital L will no longer sit at the top of a hierarchy of thought (it was only in their imaginations anyway) in a world that is networked. Linear thinking and being 'The Smartest Guy In The Room' is over and out. The amazing speed of connections, formations and reformations in todays environment remind me of the floaty rotating coloured oil filters that the old Charlie Grey Theatre used to project on the curtain before the Sunday night screening of M__Oh Lucky Man__or The Song Remains The Same - joining, separating - always in motion.

    With regard to Web 2.0; I think it is a little retarded to think that it is solely about blogging and file sharing. Seems to me that Web 2.0 is about using the web rather than reading it - the democratisation of the tools.

    Ok, back to sitting cross-legged on the mat ...

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since Feb 2007 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Why does everyone hate Bono so much?

    I don't...his second single was fine....but he's hardly a cultural signpost for the ages. U2 are not, in the scheme of things, important beyond being a cash cow.

    Using Bono as his example was self defeating...a) he's a perfect example of a the revolution being driven by the, for want of a better word, kids. Without punk in 76 there would have been no U2...they were Irish post punk b) and they now provide a perfect example of why the media giants have lost their way. They're bloated, pompous and self important...and largely irrelevant...at least the Rolling Stones still make you smile.

    The music industry started to loose it's way when they began to believe that they were in control, and forgot that they were being driven rather than being the drivers. Berry Gordy, Clive Davis, and David Geffen understood that...Edgar Bronfman doesn't.

    Keene clearly doesn't understand his own theme, and grasp the irony of using Bono as an example.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    How many of us, even us pros, wrote as much 10 years ago as we do now?

    Back then, I was very involved with various online communities. Today I still am, but I write more. Now more and more people are online, I'm able to connect with those who are more likely to share my interests.

    In 1997 the closest to PA System was the nz.general usenet group, but I eventually left that because of all the shouting (and some guy ferociously objected to my quoting style).

    Rich said:

    I find it ironic that a traditionally lightweight lifestyle mag (Metro)

    Metro wasn't lightweight in the '80s. Under founder Warwick Rodger's editorship, it had really really long investigative articles. That was the era that brought us the "Unfortunate Experiment" expose. (I can't believe I used to read Metro as a pre-teen and teenager!)

    In fact, has Metro ever been lightweight?

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    It's also worth pointing out that U2 were signed and nurtured by an indie label, Island, which used to fly by the seat of its pants, driven by the vision of one man...Chris Blackwell. They were non-corporate indie renegades and are often regarded as a template for street driven A&R...very web 2.0 (damn I hate that phrase)

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    __Where the wild things are__

    Is this the late night bikini show on E?

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Damian White,

    In 1997 the closest to PA System was the nz.general usenet group

    Ah, the halcyon days of alt.wesley.crusher.die.die.die . . .

    . . . and 'wizard has summoned a Herb'.

    :)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Keen clearly doesn't understand his own theme, and grasp the irony of using Bono as an example.

    So true. All that does is peg him as out of touch. I can understand his point, I suppose, but it just looks like another 47-year-old guy who doesn't understand "the kids". I'm 34 and I don't understand the kids either, but I at least understand the minor revolutions of pop culture, such as Simon mentions above (all of which were widely hailed as rubbish by then-47-year-olds) enough to realise that his central premise is headed for a fall.

    Besides, if you want to root out the causes of infantilism and narcissism in pop culture, wouldn't the TV, film and CD industries perhaps be far more deserving targets?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Metro wasn't lightweight in the '80s

    I stand corrected (didn't live here then)!

    I had the impression that the pictures of people at parties and features on "trips you can do into the wild, wild country beyond Ponsonby" were the core of the mag.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    My only complaint - the way words get abused, but then I'm a pedant:). Infantilising????? really!

    You can question my authoritah, but do not question my word mojo:

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/infantilised
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/infantilising

    Example from the New Yorker: "It creates a crisis that infantilizes them -- causes grown men to squabble like kids about trivial things."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    In 1997 the closest to PA System was the nz.general usenet group, but I eventually left that because of all the shouting (and some guy ferociously objected to my quoting style).

    Everybody leaves Usenet.

    I just went and had a look at nz.general - it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, although it does seem that the topic generation is in the hands of the loonies: Stuff like "When will NZ stand up to the Muslims like Australia has?"

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    So true. All that does is peg him as out of touch. I can understand his point, I suppose, but it just looks like another 47-year-old guy who doesn't understand "the kids". I'm 34 and I don't understand the kids either, but I at least understand the minor revolutions of pop culture, such as Simon mentions above (all of which were widely hailed as rubbish by then-47-year-olds) enough to realise that his central premise is headed for a fall.

    Meh, it all started going wrong with the rise of the singer-songwriter. Before that, popular music was young and dumb. Ugly guys who couldn't sing wrote lyrics. Beautiful young men and women with no brains sang the tunes. Life was good. Then came Dylan, damn his word and melody combining hide@1!

    Sure, all the minor revolutions Simon refers to were all about trying to fix the Dylan problem. But it never works, the genie was out of the bag, and 40 years later we have Bono.

    We've only got ourselves to blame.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    Everybody leaves Usenet.

    Pffft, the greatest football discussion group ever is on Usenet. I can't imagine a Web that could ever replace it.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Peter,
    I'll blame 'Sgt. Pepper' for where it all went wrong. The recent Dylan doco 'No Direction Home' documents well Bobby's ever-growing exasperation with the wildly misinterpretive public and media swarming around him. In truth, Dylan was, harder than anyone, working against the pop thing; promoting traditionalism; an anathema to the infantilism and narcissism of pop. I think he unfairly got swept up in some widespread fetish for faux intellectualism that broke through at the time, like an army of Nickelbacks to Kerouac's & Ginsburg's Nirvana, leaving Bob virtually shouting "I am not the Messiah", when no-one wanted to hear it.

    Bono on the other hand is just an ego-maniac. Maybe that's why he's so popular.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    The cultural consequence of uncontrolled digital development will be social vertigo. Culture will be spinning and whirling and in continual flux. Everything will be in motion; everything will be opinion. This social vertigo of ubiquitous opinion was recognized by Plato. That's why he was of the opinion that opinionated artists should be banned from his Republic.

    And that's one reason why his Republic and every other utopia was a bad idea. Still, there's something there in the general topic of technology and democracy. There couldn't really be democracy with the sorts of populations we have without technology.

    As for Bono and the big media engine - who zoomed who?

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Sure, all the minor revolutions Simon refers to were all about trying to fix the Dylan problem. But it never works, the genie was out of the bag, and 40 years later we have Bono.

    I'm not sure if I'd describe Hip Hop, punk and elecronica as minor revolutions....and Dylan...all he wanted to be was Woody Guthrie fronting The Beatles, but I take your point.

    No-one outside of Australia and NZ buys U2 records in 2007 anyway.

    Beautiful young men and women with no brains sang the tunes. Life was good.

    Avril Lavigne is number one in the US so you can relax

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

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