Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"You"


2006 TIME magazine Person of The Year – "You":

Lev Grossman:

"It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes."

In 2006, Time magazine chose the millions of anonymous contributors of user-generated content to Wikipedia, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Second Life, the Linux operating system, and the multitudes of other websites featuring user contribution as its Person of the Year. The choice was personified simply as You.

The capital Y is fitting as this is an abstract you (it doesn't refer to any one "you" in particular). By not referring to a particularity, it isn't required to refer to anyone: whether you are there particularly or not, "You" are there regardless - the which is a perfect expression of fantastic agency.


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The term "crowdsourcing" is a neologistic portmanteau of "crowd" and "outsourcing," first coined by Jeff Howe in a June 2006 Wired magazine article "The Rise of Crowdsourcing"

Howe explains that because technological advances have allowed for cheap consumer electronics, the gap between professionals and amateurs has been diminished. Companies are then able to take advantage of the talent of the public, and Howe states that "It’s not outsourcing; it’s crowdsourcing."

The banalization here of information itself is more clearly described when juxtaposed with its correlative:

Democracy, a "big element of Web 2.0", as exemplified in bloggers and the best news reporters, and random people as the best encyclopedia writer (as in wikipedia). In both cases, "expertise" is surpassed by amateurs.

In both cases, the amateur/expert divide has all but disappeared, and in both the amateur steps up to the plate to provide the answers - the masses are answering questions - this virtual democracy and massification's environment has only one key distinction between itself and the democratic debate-place of the Athenian Agora: its environment comes about as a byproduct of unrelated commercial activity (in contradistinction with the more simultaneous and overlapping quality of the Greek market and urban philosopher debate grounds - here specialization must work to meet the demands of more sophistication and a wider scope, making the cross-integration less and less incidental). Democracy and the sourcing of crowds then shifts the relationship to where those people and crowds are the primary means for the virtuality to subsist, their engagement being secondary to the mass establishment of the space (again, comparable yet far more modular and colossally segmented than the Greek Agora - the people here are more and more a mass a priori, embedded with the mainstreamed information they can produce - while the company might need that information for their site (what's wikipedia without articles?), it cannot provide it itself, which is an inversion of the philosophical banter in the market - now that banter forms the market itself - and out of that strangely inverted environment it is only varieties of noise which serve as actual agent-expressions.

This design is user-centred, and its bazaar is contrasted with the old contained cathedral. The bazaar, like the agora, has its vendor tent poles lined with the activity of its participants, its very space is an informational byproduct - the democracy enters as informational effect, the crowdsourcing as the actuality of the info-effectual democracy. The bazaar too, lets one see those haggling processes they'd prefer to not participate in - suddenly commerce is clear and its competitive stimulation sits uneasy for the former church-goers so used to consistency in purchases - the bazaar that instantiates the ideals of former rock stars on their myspace profiles as company sites whose users form the parasitical host for the star to continuing living, indefinitely.

Indefiniteness is the perpetual beta (see Raymond), no longer scheduled in christian software releases, the sacerdotal Britannica is given over the beta-release amateur, Heraclitean and with more eyes than Argus (to shallow out the bugs), to produce and reproduce, without end (this, in the terminology of the acedic-anomaly, the unholy union of goat songs and burlesque into the inert - the Steinian blank verse that says nothing at all - over and over again).