Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Man In The Web 2.0 Mask

In the last post I discussed the social pressure behind technology acceptance and technological decision making. To the already long enough list of social pressure sources, a new channel was recently added – the Web 2.0 with its "folksonomic blogo-podo-sphere" – a new viral marketing streamed to your laptop in real-time. Yet this time it's for the people, by the people, and it is so stylish, kewl and ubiquitous that the boundaries between the medium and the message become blurred.

Take, for instance, the opening page of O'Reilly Network from October 15th (Unfortunately, they'd changed their site content. I tried the Internet Archive, but got a message saying the O'Reilly Net is blocking robots – so you'd have to believe me for what I'd tell…). The opening page of the site figured two big boxes, the first boasting O'Reilly's "Distributing the Future", the second stating something like: "Learn Why Ruby on Rails is So Great". If Tim O'Reilly, "Father of the O'Reilly Radar", distributor of the future, and the patron of Open-Source-Emerging-Technologies says that Ruby on Rail is great, what should I think? Does this I of mine has any right to think at all? Is my thought relevant?

Marshall "The Medium is the Message" McLuhan described the above situation as follow:
"When things come at you very fast, naturally you lose touch with yourself. Anybody moving into a new world loses identity...So loss of identity is something that happens in rapid change. But everybody at the speed of light tends to become a nobody. This is what's called the masked man. The masked man has no identity. He is so deeply involved in other people that he doesn't have any personal identity."

McLuhan, quoted in "Forward Through the Rearview Mirror: Reflections on and by Marshall McLuhan", by Paul Benedetti.

Web 2.0 is THE new medium and undoubtedly it is coming very, very fast. It has already infiltrated so profoundly into our lives and people do get deeply involved in other people by this medium - after all, the "participation age" is its motto.

Truly, in web 2.0 everyone has the chance to say his/her word; only, when everyone is speaking, nobody can hear. Everybody becomes Nobody. Web 2.0 is, therefore, an ideal playground for the masked man.

Is this herd-fusion occurs albeit our revolting against it, or are we engaging ourselves willingly in this process of deindividuation? I'd suspect that we are admiring the masked man. Vox Populi is Vox Dei, or is it not?

Says McLuhan: "There is a deep-seated repugnance in the human breast against understanding the processes in which we are involved. Such understanding involves far too much responsibility for our actions".

For the times they are a-changin' and who are we to ask questions?

This is the second post in the "Pressure" series (Pressure, The Man In the Web2.0 Mask and Mind the Gap)


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