Monday, October 02, 2006

Cashing in on internet loneliness - noisily

This came via David (Again! Come on, other readers. Lift your game - drop me something…). Robert J. Samuelson wrote a Washington Post piece on the blogging and internet networking crazes - A Web of Exhibitionists - and slags off 'our' propensity to bare our souls to complete strangers on the net:
Call it the ExhibitioNet. It turns out that the Internet has unleashed the greatest outburst of mass exhibitionism in human history. … We have blogs, 'social networking' sites (, Facebook), YouTube and all their rivals. Everything about these sites is a scream for attention.
Samuelson goes on to complain that many on these sites just want some self-promotion or make money. Well, some of us are honest about it. Others pretend we are doing it to improve our writing, change the world, keep sane, etc (mois! non, non!). Far be it for me to pretend otherwise, or write a long piece defending blogging etc from print journalists who like nothing better than to slag off bloggers and internet groupies for the titillation of their readers. ; )

I do find it ironic that, who published the piece, uses a slew of internet networking tools to promote its articles and build a sense of online buzz about them: they've tools in a window showing readers who's blogged about that article, and allows readers to link straight to those blogs that have posted on the particular article. (See the screenshot of the page on the left)

AND they have tools to let readers tag the article and save it to their website saving and sharing tool - also an internet social networking tool! Yes, the same tools of the 'Exhibitinet' that their writer likes to slag off. Well, anything to create a buzz about your 'product' (articles, ads) and make more money – and use bloggers to do so. We're just suckers. Hmm. Have I created enough cred for the Post to sell its advertising space yet?

Still, I wont begrudge the fact that Samuelson makes interesting points about our preoccupations with baring our souls (or egos) online:
we are clearly at a special moment. Thoreau famously remarked that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Thanks to technology, that's no longer necessary. People can now lead lives of noisy and ostentatious desperation. Or at least they can try.



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