Re:Web of Mediocrity
Re:Web of Mediocrity
Juan Rodriguez wrote an article in the Montreal Gazette titled the ‘Web of
Mediocrity’ which I found somewhat obtuse. Here is my response to that
(The article is only available online for paying members, so you will have had to have read it in paper form for proper context…)
I read your article in the gazette and I have some contentions with your arguments/opinions. I have a very different view on the topic, so I wanted to present my understanding of the Web and its effect on our society.
Where should I start? I guess we might as well put a time frame on this so we are talking about the same thing. The Web was created almost 20 years ago and has been growing at an amazing rate. It has pretty much defined our transition from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. It allows for the sharing of ideas on all levels quickly and efficiently. Because of this, the Web has attracted audiences of all types. Businesses can run smoother, teachers can better educate and pretty much any old Joe can share their knowledge, creativity and opinion.
So how does this shape our culture and society? I think that the economy plays one of the biggest roles in shaping a society, so lets look at that to start. When you think of the Web and economics, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the “dot com” era/bust around the year 2000. A lot of companies realized that they needed to be “web enabled” and ran full force into it without really understanding how web enabled businesses function. Because of this many companies bought or developed very poor solutions to their problems and ran into major issues when their chosen software couldn’t keep up with the changing technology and market. Many companies went broke while a lot of companies ended up squeaking by without getting hit too hard and took the experience as an expensive web tutorial. There were a few companies who understood the changing times and capitalized on the market, and the likes of Google, Amazon and eBay were born. These companies understood the concept of Software as a Service (SaaS) and built web frameworks to capitalize on the huge demanding market of consumers who where itching to be served by the web. These companies have become household names but the full potential of the web is not limited to there achievements. Every day new companies are starting to understand the Web’s potential and begin working to ensure their spot in the growing market.
To better understand why the Web is changing the rules, I have to discuss for a minute Long Tail economics (and yes I just linked a wikipedia page). The Long Tail refers to the fact that only a few companies make most of today’s products and a very large number of companies only make a small number of products (these companies are the long tail). The companies who make most of the products have always had the markets edge because they have the most visibility and customer goodwill because they are publicly known. However, with the Web becoming the major market, the small companies can now compete by promoting themselves and becoming efficient online. This is one of the reasons that artists are stepping into the web space and taking advantage of its exposure. Yes there is potential for more money, but the truth of the matter is that the record labels are way behind the times and the artists need to keep up with where the demand is.
Many of the major organizations of western culture have been falling behind due to the presence of the Web. They have built their business on the idea that they can force feed the consumer what they want to produce and they will be able to control the market. This type of thinking is quickly being phased out as a larger majority of people begin to express their opinion.
This brings me to the overall theme of your article. You have a very Industrial Age perspective of the Web and because of this I feel that in many cases you are missing the point. You have criticized the fact that there are so many opinions online and have questioned any good to be had from it. I see it from a completely different perspective. The Web is one of the best learning tools we currently have because there are so many opinions to be heard. In this ever changing world we need diversity of thought and to become less dependent on the force feeding establishments of the Industrial Age, such as government, the education system, corporate mass media and big business. Most of these organizations are falling way behind because they do not understand how to adapt to the changes of the last 20 years. The educational system, for example, is meant to be teaching our youth and training them for the future, but the system itself is stuck without almost any understanding of the future. They are still teaching from the perspective of; this is what the big businesses do in your field, learn it to become their employee. The way they should be teaching is; this is what the big businesses do in your field, learn it to be able to improve it. Creativity and diversity of thought needs to be brought back into the classroom if students are to be ready for the world upon graduation. This is only one example, but the list goes on.
The Web is here to stay and it is changing the way that people communicate, do
business and express them selves. There are advancements in almost every field
every day and because of the Web you can keep your self up to date, improve
your ideas and open your mind to new levels of creativity.
I feel that we need to embrace the Web for what it is and learn to use it to improve our selves and the way we think. It is one of the most amazing tools available to the majority of the population and should not be passed off as an inconsequential web of mediocrity.