Let's burst the web 2.0 commercial bubble & instead get really funky!

The commercially driven nature of Web 2.0 has been stressed by many commentators, for instance Tim O’Reilly in his influential essay of September 2005 “What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software“. Thus when I first looked at MySpace a little before O’Reilly published that text, rock bands clearly knew how to promote themselves to a new (as well as their existing) audience via this site, but writers and artists on the whole didn’t. The later two categories of would-be culture industry ‘professionals’ tended to use the internet as a means of advertising (largely ineffectively) what they were doing, rather than integrating their activities into it. Since MySpace made streamed sound central to its platform, musicians found the site was tailor made for them, and it didn’t require much adaptation on their part to benefit from it.
There were and still are very few professional artists on MySpace with notable exceptions like Martin Creed and Jane Pollard/Ian Forsyth; most of the art profiles are either for complete amateurs or run by fans of dead iconoclasts like Duchamp and Warhol. The majority of artists I encounter in London don’t seem to like the web very much (among other things it doesn’t allow them much control over the way their work is viewed and who sees it, which is why they prefer galleries), but Facebook attracts them as a networking tool. On Facebook gallery artists fit in very well alongside suit wearing culture industry professionals and corporate managers with their spreadsheets and calculators. If gallery artists have work they want to sell and that really is their bottom line, those artists working on the web (and doing more than simply publicising upcoming shows and reproducing catalogue essays) are more likely to have something to say or at least formalist concerns they wish to explore. Strangely beyond those involved in genres such as conceptual literature (Kenny Goldsmith is the most prominent figure in this field) or perhaps cyberpunk, even fewer writers than artists show much interest in the internet as a creative tool, despite the fact it is language based and offers enormous scope for ‘social sculpture’.
Moving on, the developmental model many Web 2.0 businesses work with is offering a service either cheaply or for free in order to mine data from their users. Web business ‘guru‘ Tim O’Reilly doles out advice along the lines of: ‘leverage customer-self service and algorithmic data management to reach out to the entire web…  For competitive advantage, seek to own a unique, hard-to-recreate source of data… The key to competitive advantage in internet applications is the extent to which users add their own data to that which you provide…. Involve your users both implicitly and explicitly in adding value to your application…. Set inclusive defaults for aggregating user data as a side-effect of their use of the application…. When benefits come from collective adoption, not private restriction, make sure that barriers to adoption are low. Follow existing standards, and use licenses with as few restrictions as possible. Design for “hackability” and “remixability.”… Don’t package up new features into monolithic releases, but instead add them on a regular basis as part of the normal user experience. Engage your users as real-time testers…“
In recent years networking theory has made much of the notion of weak ties. The pioneer in this area was Mark Granovetter in the 1970s and by the late 1990s his work had been combined with Stanley Milgram’s research into how many links separate people from each other (the so called six degrees of separation) by mathematicians Duncan Watts and Steve Strogatz. These ideas were later popularised in mass market paperbacks like Mark Buchanan’s “Small World” (known as “Nexus” in the USA). A completely ordered network (where every node is tied only to its neighbours) is inefficient in terms of its degrees of separation: but when some long distance ‘weak ties’ are thrown in these massively reduce the number of moves needed to get from any one node to any other. Thus from the perspective of networking theory MySpace is superior to both Facebook and Bebo since it encourages weak ties as well as networking among established friends (Facebook and Bebo actively discourage users from befriending people they don’t know). That said, those ‘virtual’ communities that go beyond ties to a single platform and that aren’t committed to capitalist business practices are infinitely superior to anything MySpace can offer.
Web business ‘gurus’ like Tim O’Reilly recognise the strength of collective activity, but they attempt to recuperate it for individual gain. Their world is one in which everything revolves around a bottom line; their outlook is essentially behaviourist, web surfers are enticed to click through links and to buy something (anything). Business data miners are interested in what makes someone click through links and make purchases, not why they do it. Thus what doesn’t gain clicks is either discarded or placed so far down search lists that few surfers will find it. This is a pseudo-meritocracy in which whatever is already popular has its position constantly reinforced, and what isn’t popular is buried under a mountain of celebrity trivia in a world that is currently ruled (‘ironically’ of course) by the likes of Lady GaGa. Nonetheless, social networking trends are constantly shifting and while both advertising and data mining on platforms like MySpace are now slicker than 3 or 4 years ago, that particular site is still not exactly generating a huge profit. Indeed, last year saw a small downturn in MySpace and Facebook usage in the UK (see “Is Facebook going out of fashion” – you’ll need to roll down the page on The Guardian site to see this).
So trendsetters, perhaps this really can be the year in which millions more groovers and bloggers break with the digital establishment by embracing a WordPress freakout. The easiest way to do this is to set up a blog on the WordPress site, but I’d prefer you all to be more dispersed and for as many of you as possible to use your own domains…. And let’s start using our sites to really play with the web, to spread myths and confusion, create false identities, disorientate the authorities, and inauguarate communal situations that overflow all the barriers between the so called ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ worlds! Oh and a few backward glances at how we got here wouldn’t go astray either… so if you’re not already familiar with them, look up the Luther Blissett Project, neoism and mail art (the ‘original’ pre-web paper net). “Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/ – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Aristotle on 2009-01-29 12:14:50 +0000

Strange sense of deja vu!

Comment by Plotinus on 2009-01-29 12:18:47 +0000

You can say that again!

Comment by K Mail on 2009-01-29 13:18:23 +0000

But I thought capitalist exploitation was supposed to be a postmodern groove sensation! And right now I’m trying to sell my websites to Wal-Mart!

Comment by Dire McCain on 2009-01-29 15:07:16 +0000

I decided to klone myself today! Beep beep!

Comment by Time Traveller on 2009-01-29 15:11:24 +0000

Me too! Toot toot!

Comment by Natascha Wolf on 2009-01-29 15:13:11 +0000

I’ll buy that for a dollar!

Comment by ‘ndvslkns’dlv on 2009-01-29 16:49:59 +0000

“I” “am” “a” “clone”

Comment by Stewart Home on 2009-01-29 16:53:04 +0000

Well, I’ve just kloned myself…

Comment by Stewart Home on 2009-01-29 16:54:22 +0000

“I” “am” “a” “clone”

Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2009-01-29 16:56:27 +0000

It’s because of the suit wearing culture industry professionals and corporate managers that I avoid Facebook. That and a host of other things…
The net’s great for the propagation of myths and confusion. I had been about to suggest that it might be REALLY subversive to use it to spread truth and clarity, but it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

Comment by Mister Trippy on 2009-01-29 17:04:34 +0000

I decided to klone myself today! Beep beep!

Comment by Gottfreid Leibniz on 2009-01-29 17:05:14 +0000


Comment by Orange Sonshine on 2009-01-29 17:07:08 +0000

I’m digging the Web 2.0 thingy

Comment by Beatle Bob on 2009-01-29 17:59:48 +0000

I’m a cavestompin’ shindigger who twists and shouts and works it on out to the swinginest sounds of the Bird Dance Beat!

Comment by The Situgraphical Hypergraphy of Metagraphics on 2009-01-29 18:04:45 +0000

We are now facing a two-million pound eviction at Dale Farm because the Court of Appeal upheld Basildon council’s decision to go ahead with a direction action operation against our homes and community centre.
So far more than 60 families have sent in homeless applications, still hoping the council will provide us with an alternate place to live in the form of a mobile-home park to which we could move.
But although they have promised to comply with their duties, the BDC have already rejected our Joint Homeless Application and many individual claims, alleging people have made themselves intentionally homeless.
BDC also claims it has no land for a caravan park and may only offer flats or houses, despite being the biggest district in Essex with 45 square miles. A few families could be offered housing. But overall it would mean the break-up of extended families and the community.
Dale Farm only wants planning permission. That’s the commonsense solution – and it would cost nothing. What we need now is the help of supporters willing to act as Human Rights Monitors to see, if possible, that the council and police act within the law.
The job of Monitors will be:

  1. To assist in tracking our homeless applications (including attending interviews).
  2. Attend meetings with BDC officials and police aimed at securing agreement for the strict adherence to health and safety regulations and for a church-supported evacuation plan for small children and sick persons (before heavy machinery, bailiffs and riot police enter the site).
  3. Be present at the eviction to help see these agreements (if made) are upheld and to provide evidence of wrongdoing (with the possibility that an injunction could be obtained to halt the week-long eviction before it is completed.

Comment by Johnny Thunders on 2009-01-29 18:45:51 +0000

Who are the mystery klones?????

Comment by Michael K on 2009-01-29 18:52:29 +0000

Hey I’m too busy trying to arrange all of the details for ‘The Beast with 14 Backs’ (it’s not exactly the same as ‘The 14 Secret Masters of the World’ but Blaster wouldnt be drawn on the differences) to keep up with latest happenings in fields as diverse as Glop Art and Japanese Panty-Sniffing but I have had an interview request and have partially talked the requesters into a round-table discussion with Stewart Home, Michael K. I was going to mention Tessie to them but you know these ‘serious’ mags.
Anyway to paraphrase Hans Haacke in this age of virtual free lunches, ‘The Interview Need Not Take Place’.
I’ll be in touch with my people and they’ll be getting onto your people who will get into a lot of trouble if they get onto Tessie’s people so probably they’ll just get back to my people who will undoubtedly provide me with no uselful information whatsoever, rather like a tax adviser who wants you to do all the work and then just say ‘That’s OK’ before presenting her invoice.

Comment by Díre McCain on 2009-01-29 19:06:54 +0000

If all goes as planned, Kelso and I plan to embrace a WordPress freakout for the zine…
And the klones’ identities are irrelevant at this point. I for one am glad that mine has jumped in the fire, because I’m far too busy debunking Ludovico Maria Sinistrari’s theories about the exorcism of soul-sucking incubi…
P.S. “Mr. Bob” forgot to mention that he’s also ein Dieb…

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-29 22:17:01 +0000

Great, let’s have a real WordPress freakout…. and btw: Akismet has protected my site from 169 spam comments already, but there’s nothing in my spam queue at the moment. And man has the spam been boring, mainly online casinos and slimming scams…. if they’d only try something really down home and dirty I might let it thru…..

Comment by You on 2009-01-30 17:36:15 +0000

In a world which really is topsy-turvy, the true is a moment of the false.

Comment by THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE PENSIONABLE on 2009-01-31 15:43:26 +0000

But Basildon is a horrible place. Who wouldnt want to be evicted from there? They play fucking Depeche Mode constantly even in Wetherspoons. It’s a swiz!

Comment by WEST ESSEX UNITED AGAINST RACIST SPARROWS on 2009-01-31 20:01:40 +0000

fuck weatherspoons man let em play kmfdm 24-7 – WE will drown your sorrows in the running well of runwell and bury your bullshit in the bartlow hills – WESTEASTSEX4LIFE

Comment by The Egress on 2009-02-02 00:34:40 +0000

Interesting, but how do you get fookin’ wordpress to work on a mac la?

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-02-02 01:51:13 +0000

Dunno, my site and the WordPress back end blog was installed from a PC….

Comment by aNNA k on 2009-02-02 10:09:29 +0000

0ne great thing about trippy’s blog here is that comments are open and s/he is using some good anti-spamming software. great moves. in contrast, wearebad’s blog on blogspot.com won’t let anyione leave comments, which is no good – but not as frustrating as blogspot – trying to leavea commetn on http://cambridgegazasolidarity.blogspot.com/ the other day took ages and i gave up in the end cos u need to have a user account with blogspot or a googlemail account. blog on bloggin on baby.
0 and btw – fuck them racist sparrows man – everyone knows that basildon council are acting illegally in making people intentionally homeless – they have a legal obligation to provide land to the travellers there and just like other councils and authorities are conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing just as vicious – but far more covert and hidden – than wot is going on in palestine. basildon is tory run and it was the torys that proposed moving travellers into concentration camp style ghettos on ex-military sites – u better get organised – big tings a gwan

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