Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Spontaneous Socialilty of the Web

I'm not original in thinking that the Web is a way users can structure life both online and offline.    Parodies of online life are nothing new, evident in the Make Love Not Warcraft episode of South Park a few years back.  The reality of the situation is that youth culture uses the technologies in both F2F and virtual realms.  The New York Times wrote about flash mobs in 2003, which was all about pointless "spectacles" generated by connected users.  Usually, being featured in the NYT means its already pasée, but flashmobs are still going on.  Spontaneous happenings for those "in the know."  The use of technologies to belong, to connect with others, and to gain "meaning" or simple entertainment are part of fundamental human processes.  What are the parameters here?  What happens when companies and organizations try to co-opt these organic happenings?

Another somewhat non-commercialized spontaneous activity on the web is the creation and dissemination of "lolcats."  These started out as images of cats using "lolspeak" captions, with the object being comedic value (which is in the eye of the beholder).   Time wrote about it last year, noting how the sub or microcultural becomes mainstream (and hence covered in magazines like Time).
 Like flashmobs, these were organic and spontaneous creations, not generated by a slick production house and spawned by WGA writers.  Now, they're commercialized, but there's still a DIY-feel to the phenomenon.  There seems to be a 
desire for these organic and spontaneous creations.  What can be done to foster more of these or does that do violence to the spirit of the idea in the first place?


Kmk said...

A video for the G4 network on Lolcats is here:

nick said...

flash mobs? like chris crocker on youtube? or that guys W.O.W funeral that got attacked and nation news? those wierd internet things everyone or most net people have seen? like a fad thats here and gone before you know? anyways yea...