I don't know about you, but I've read a lot of articles about the internet (on the internet) in the past couple of weeks. Apparently, the internet (or “web 2.0” as you might have heard it called) is forever changing the way we interact, socialise, think and behave. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are the birth of a new kind media, leading to unparralled levels of interconnectdness, while Wiki and blogs are busy democratising information.
All sounds rather grand when you frame it in those terms, but is it really?
I don't know about you, but a typical net outing tends to mean visiting the same ten or twelve sites, checking my e-mail and... not a lot else... Where is this brave new world I’m being promised? Maybe I missed a meeting.
In a recent article, self appointed, "obnoxious media know-it-all" Toby Young pointed out one of the essential problems with Twitter. It's one big game of follow the leader. You can post things to other people, but unless they happen to be "following" you, you don't get anything back the other way. It’s the computing equivalent of talking to a brick wall – typing at a screen!
It's very easy to argue that I just "don't get" it, but even on the rare occasions that I feel tempted to join in, curious to see if these shiny new "apps" can satiate my futurist desires, yet another mention of Stephen "courdroy-trousers-pipe-and-slippers-and-a-mug-of-hot-coco" Fry, and my dreams of a bright new digital future are crushed under old oak beams of convention. It would be chirlish to blame him personally, 100, 000 "followers" must give one hell of an ego massage.
This feeling of disconect reached its nadir when I read about Cadbury's new £3.7m ad campaign, and the entusiasm it has been greeted with, bouyed by the internet. A robot-sounding corporate exectutive proudly mugged about the company’s “innovative new approach”, starting the "buzz" by “letting the bloggers have it first.” Bloggers, were then, presumably, so flattered to have been approached they proceeded to let the world know about the lastest piece of marketing genius from “the creatives” at Cadbury. (Remember that Gorilla on the drums? That was them too! Wow!)
So, finally, here’s the rub. Where are the power centres in this equation? Are we really hearing a multiplicity of voices, or does the song remain the same? Has a plague of free thinking broken out or are we doing what we're told, for fear that doing otherwise might mean we don't get heard at all?
How the average blogger, with an audience of one (normally themselves), generates any "buzz" is beyond me.