Removing the mass from media

Netflix Doodle

I was listening to Framerate 152. And they mentioned a story written by Tim WuNetflix’s War on Mass Culture Binge-viewing was just the beginning. Netflix has a plan to rewire our entire culture.

So I had a read of the whole thing on my kindle via instapaper and it was intriguing.

It starts to answer the question about what happens everyone sees something different. One of the same questions I want to research with Perceptive Media. But I find myself thinking so what? This all sounds like normal life? So what? Hardly breaking new ground. Then I stop and remember… My world isn’t mainstream yet.

If modern American popular culture was built on a central pillar of mainstream entertainment flanked by smaller subcultures, what stands to replace it is a very different infrastructure, one comprising islands of fandom. With no standard daily cultural diet, we’ll tilt even more from a country united by shows like “I Love Lucy” or “Friends” toward one where people claim more personalized allegiances, such as to the particular bunch of viewers who are obsessed with “Game of Thrones” or who somehow find Ricky Gervais unfailingly hysterical, as opposed to painfully offensive.

The baby-boomer intellectuals who lament the erosion of shared values are right: Something will be lost in the transition. At the water cooler or wedding reception or cocktail party or kid’s soccer game, conversations that were once a venue for mutual experiences will become even more strained as chatter about last night’s overtime thriller or “Seinfeld” shenanigans is replaced by grasping for common ground. (“Have you heard of ‘The Defenders’? Yeah? What episode are you on?”) At a deeper level, a country already polarized by the echo chambers of ideologically driven journalism and social media will find itself with even less to agree on.

And there are those who laugh at me when I couldn’t remember the names of the 4 Beatles members or when I don’t know who the guy is playing the guitar on the closing for London Olympics 2012 ceremony. Well laugh all you like but theres going to be even more of us soon and you may be one them sooner than you imagine.

Now I know this might seem like a reason to be fearful for the future, I mean what about social collusion?

But it’s not all cause for dismay. Community lost can be community gained, and as mass culture weakens, it creates openings for the cohorts that can otherwise get crowded out. When you meet someone with the same particular passions and sensibility, the sense of connection can be profound. Smaller communities of fans, forged from shared perspectives, offer a more genuine sense of belonging than a national identity born of geographical happenstance.

Tim Wu then goes off on one about how this is the grounding of America, which is a logical argument. Netflix is simply understood where the future is heading and hitched its self to the future.

Purpose of blogging it was as a clear sign for those who laugh and make fun. One day its going to happen to you too…


Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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