Karl Rove has rightly observed that images/video/audio are far more powerful on the internet than print. He asserts the news cycle has speeded up here, and as a consequence, I say that “reading” is taking a backseat to our now instinctive habit of “watching a screen flicker and being amused for hours.” I don’t have any hard evidence of print blogs suffering versus v-logs and podcasts and YouTube, but I am shocked by just how popular those things – which I feel are only gimmicks – are.
This is still a very, very new medium and real online communities are rare. Most online communities are imports from the non-virtual world: liberals have found each other here, as have conservatives and music fans and artists and religious and blah blah. Communities centered around making the web work well, communities which don’t indulge totally in tech-geek jargon, are very rare.
The above means that places where you can get an open-minded mass audience are few and far between. Myspace and Facebook are mainly for playing around, and allow you to meet new people (who might not be who they say they are) pretty much one at a time. Blogging communities are a little better, but have a deep problem we’ll get to shortly. And social bookmarking like Digg and Reddit and StumbleUpon is pretty much a time waster, although I got lucky and made friends from each. Then again, I’ve gotten my audience a number of ways (including using all the types of sites listed above), none of which for me has been particularly effective.
Despite the fact I love my audience and think there are plenty of good, decent people online, there’s no getting around the fact that most people online are bottom-feeders. Most people online will put others down just because they can. I could attribute this to the problems of community here or the fact that this is still a developing medium, but structural problems with sites or the Internet itself don’t explain the sheer amount of stupidity I’ve run into here, nor the fact that many of the most popular personalities online would be charitably described as “losers.”
The lack of communities that are genuinely web-based has created a further problem: if it feels like the audience here is too fragmented to be of any use, it is. Only DailyKos has “solved” this problem by catering to the lowest common denominator.
Bloggers, because of the sad state of affairs outlined so far, need an incredibly thick skin and need to be relentless in self-promotion. Arrogance and manipulating others is par for the course. That there are so many nice bloggers out there is terrific: I think a lot of us have decided that competition isn’t going to work, and so together we have to build an audience for the work in photography and print we’re mainly doing. But that doesn’t mean that the other side we have as bloggers doesn’t exist. Our “niceness,” for many of us, isn’t fake. But does that mean we’re surprised when we do run into fake bloggers looking only for attention more often than not?
All these problems point to the greatest potential of the Internet: there is room for some to change, and when good people come along here, it’s nice to be able to appreciate them and enjoy their work. There’s lots to do here, and it is fun.