Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nov. 10th Response Blogging America Ch.5

Barlow’s chapter 5 of Blogging America dealt mainly with what blogs have done, or how they relate to popular culture. In this chapter, Barlow cites and quotes many Authors, books and films from the mid to late 20th century. Some of these pop culture references include The Man Who Japed, Forbidden Planet, Small is beautiful, The Man in the High Castle, and 1984. Although this increasing use of citations made it more difficult than often to chose what citations and quotes to use from the chapter for the blog, it helped to give great insight on how technology was perceived in the pop culture world.

While the Machine age during the two world wars captured the imagination of Americans, the referenced books and films had foreseen the wonders, and possible ramifications of technological advancement, by portraying it through Utopian societies. The later pages of this chapter deal with blogging in the new age of popular culture directly, and how bloggers or fan input can now have influence in media. Barlow references the atrocious movie ‘Snakes on a Plane’, and how bloggers had direct influence in the movie retaining that title after a considered change, in order to get his point across.

Another main theme of Barlow’s chapter 5 is his discussion of consumer control in a world of increasing mass or popular culture. Through quoting Dwight Macdonald, Herbert Gans, George Orwell, and their views on consumption, Barlow supports his underlying claim that it was inevitable for consumers to eventually take an increased, more active role in the consumption of products. Other touched upon themes include issues between amateur and ‘Professional’ bloggers, issues the older generation have with media change, and problems of authenticity due to fan based information playing a big role on the web, for instance Wikipedia.

To me, this chapter made the coarse material from beginning to end come full circle, and made me ask myself if the communication on the internet increased or lessened our freedom, individuality, and sense of community. Barlow references the movie V for vendetta, in relation to blogs giving people control over the centralized communication system rather than the rulers. But I would argue, that it was only by letting the volume of popular opinion increase that the real rulers were able to monitor everything, as discussed in Michael Zimmer’s reading on Issues of Privacy and the concept of Search 2.0. Barlow quotes blogger ‘Nicole’ on the blog With Hands Held High, in relation to 1984 and contemporary society, “If the government can legally listen to your phone conversations, search your things without warrant... what does that say about this so-called democracy? How is that any better than Orwell’s depiction of a similar society?”(Pg. 117) Did we trade our freedom of privacy for freedom of speech? And if so, are we okay with it because we can speak about it? We shouldn’t be.

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