Friday, May 23, 2008
Love Theme From "Web 2.0"
I was hoping to spend today thinking about anything other then the internet, but Emily Gould's "Exposed" and Weezer's "Pork And Beans" video put the kibosh on that. Both kind of feel like tail-eating themselves moments, and naturally I prefer the one under three minutes thirty with great editing and overdrive pedals more than the one ten webpages long and written like a college admissions essay. But while there was plenty to prune, I'd rather read "Exposed" than a piece by or about Gould extrapolating insights into "the blogging generation" from her experience. The newsworthiness of it (at least to those actively participating in Web 2.0) is obvious by the number of people who've read it all the way through, whether or not they were bored the final product*. While, thankfully, she didn't trump up the piece by claiming so herself, many of her observations could be seen as common among folks with an online social life, even universal.
Knowing that the worst of my online oversharing is still publicly accessible doesn’t thrill me, but it doesn’t scare me anymore either. I might hate my former self, but I don’t want to destroy her, and in a way, I want to respect her decision to show the world her vulnerability. I’m willing to let that blog exist now as a sort of memorial to a time in my life when I thought my discoveries about myself and what I loved were special enough to merit sharing with the world immediately.
That this penultimate paragraph is followed by one repping her current blog is annoying, but "Exposed" gives a definitive look at where personal blogging can take someone, emotionally and occupationally. An article "about" bloggers would be written to the uninitiated, and the debate would be over whether the piece "got it right." Having a livejournal post on the cover of the NYT magazine doesn't suggest how things have changed, it proves it.
"Pork And Beans" is nowhere as self-revealing, but the way Weezer exploits, legitimizes, celebrates and identifies with the subjects of viral internet humor is equally an acknowledgment that things have changed; its such an overt surrender to web culture at its most potentially humiliating that it might as well be titled "Youtube Killed The Video Star." The clip is oddly moving for me, providing a context for the song that takes my attention away from the overly specific whiny meta of the verses and puts it on the defiant, unapologetic chorus: One look in the mirror, and I'm tickled pink. Where most entertainers are looking for a way to maintain some dignity and distance, Weezer soaks in it.
The information industry is being sucked into a new marketplace, and will be whether or not it can find a way to turn public attention into enough loot to maintain its current size and structure. I appreciate Emily Gould and Weezer speaking up for the people caught up in it, whether or not that was their intent.
*I don't usually claim that attention proves merit, but people aren't angry because she's wrong, they're angry because they think she's overpaid.