The internet makes for strange bedfellows, and I’ve found myself both surprised and pleased to be corresponding with Alan Jacobs, and commenting on at his Text Patterns blog. When I sent the below privately, he suggested I blog it:
When IT (digital cameras, web distribution, etc.) swept through porn and expanded production dramatically, it was seen by some as an answer to the criticism that porn represented an unrealistically narrow range of body-types and sexual interests.
“Now there’s something for everyone!” was the pro-porn argument, “you just have to get out there and find what you like!”
Of course this is moronic.
The range of body-types and sexual practices depicted expanded dramatically because the economies of scale changed. But the underlying essence of pornography remained unchanged; there was only “something for everyone” if what you wanted was a videotape of people paid to have sex having sex, videotaped in a way that was dictated by the financial constraints of the business (i.e. not very well).
Similarly, the internet offers “something for everyone” so long as it’s something that can be produced and distributed within the framework the internet offers.
That’s a lot to be sure, but it’s surely doesn’t encompass the range of human experiences and desires anymore than a handicam and a handful of people having sex encompasses the range of human sexual experiences and desires.
To me, that’s where [Clay Shirky’s] “cognitive capital” is weakest. It defines capital so very narrowly, and in a way that I don’t see as being particularly egalitarian. I’m not particularly worried about the “future of knowledge”, but you already know where I’m making my personal bet, and it’s not on becoming an a-list blogger.
I am also spending less time making lolcats and more time watching TV.