Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Two Types of Webpeople

I think there are two types of webpeople: the self-aware and the un-self-aware.

Allow me to explain. Please.

Webpeople I define as those who create and share information or content. So webpeople aren't necessarily individuals; sometimes webpeople are groups or organizations or even institutions.

Self-awareness, in my uninformed opinion, is underrated. If you have a handle on who you are and what you're doing, you're on your way to being awesome. 'Course, there are some other things that contribute to being awesome as well, such as intellect and divine intervention, but as it is, the self-aware have a leg up on the blissfully ignorant.

There are some webpeople  who take the Information Superhighway seriously. They think that a) what they're doing is seriously going to change the world and b) what they're doing will last forever, or at least a long, long time.

These people are not self-aware. These people are blissfully ignorant. These people are often annoying.

Examples (and this is where I'll probably raise some hackles) are primarily political- and social-activist groups, like The Huffington Post or The Drudge Report. But one doesn't have to be partisan to be blissfully ignorant. deviantart encourages thousands--perhaps millions--of untalented losers to create and create and create, fueling their pipe dreams of brilliance or success. So do various other social-networking and open-source websites; the business of today's web is to validate the masses. And as the masses create and upload and comment and flame, they begin to think that what they are doing has weight--that they will be remembered.

To this end, I give you one of The Onion's recent news blips:

Amazing Original Thing To Become Hated Cliché In 6 Months

NEW YORK—An extremely clever and creative new thing will amuse the world for two and a half weeks in June, become passé by mid-September, and wind up as a trite and infuriating cliché by Christmas, sources said Monday. "Positive reviews on Boing Boing will signal the brief 'happy' phase of this exciting new thing's existence, about 11 weeks prior to the first backlash," said Wired magazine senior writer Stephen Levy. "I look forward to watching America fall in love with, make YouTube parodies of, sour on, forget about, and groan legitimately when hackneyed late-night talk show references are made to the thing." Levy estimated that the thing's creator will earn $400,000 from licensing its image for use on T-shirts that will all be donated to Goodwill by next spring.

Prophecy? I think so.

The other type of webperson is in the minority, unfortunately--the self-aware user. Self-aware webpeople realize that few will read their tweets and fewer will care...and the self-aware are fine with that. The self-aware don't create and post because they think they'll make a difference--they create and post because they enjoy it. It's a wry mockery of the earnestness of the blissfully ignorant.

Interestingly enough, "wry" and "mockery" are words often used to describe the efforts of the self-aware. Examples of self-aware webpeople are xkcd or The Onion or They don't try to change the world. They post and don't care who reads it--or who doesn't read it.

I like to think I'm the latter. But maybe the fact that I'm writing this post says that I'm not.

Anyway, the reason I haven't posted for so long is that I've been watching LOST. It's amazing, but I won't blog about it, because that ship sailed several years ago.

In other news, Burn Notice is amazing. I'm glad it's coming back tonight.

Long live half-hearted appeals!

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