Saturday, April 26, 2008

Web 2.0 and the New Generation Gap?

The Mediakunst 2.0 symposium in Gent went well as Geert Lovink and I traded mini-lectures on Internet / web / net art history, China as Web 2.0, a challenge to next generation media artists to create their interventionist artworks in online social networking spaces ("Where are the Facebook artists?") and the need for artists to tell their stories and invent their histories before they completely disappear in the Society of the Query (as opposed to the Society of the Spectacle).

As always with jet-lag consciousness, things unexpectedly appear right before your eyes and you're not sure if you really saw what you thought you just saw or if you are perhaps projecting these images from deep inside your dreamworld unconsciousness.

Thirty-six hours of travel from distant Hawaii to Belgium, leaving on the day of the Pennsylvania primary, a blur motion of hallucinatory achievement coloring all perception, drinking a coffee at an outdoor cafe, a tram whirs by and the image on the side of the cars is consistent:

It's an ad for the local art business/marketing school, a kind of invitation that says "this is what going to school is about these days." Apparently, it's about taking the media into your own hands and mashing up source material to tell your own story or at least make an impression.

iTube Impressionism is what I feel like calling it today. Where the student is required to continually generate random acts of senseless creativity.

The MyObama quality of the generation that keeps funding and feeding energy into the presidential campaign this year is at odds with the conventional Washingtonian media scene and the so-called "wisdom" that issues forth from that conventional apparatus.

Just look at the ABC debate of a couple of weeks ago. The Clintonian / Washington apparatchicks were convinced that together, as a political / media machine, they could overpower the MyObamians by creating an old styled media narrative that would make him look weak, far-leftist, so-called elitist and out of touch, and unable to close the deal. They did a pretty good job of it but at what cost and why?

Meanwhile the counternarrative, driven primarily by the Web 2.0 distributed aesthetics of the MyObamians, switched the media narrative so that it became more about the moderators and their out of touch elitism and, by the way, have you done your math homework lately and calculated how Clinton's victory in PA actually seals the deal for Obama now that she cannot be the nominee based off the delegate rule counting? In order to seriously make a challenge for the nomination, she needed a much larger blow-out victory, similar to the +20 numbers that the polls first reported post-Ohio/Texas. But the MyObamians closed the gap to a mere nine points and a very close divvying up the actual PA delegates.

Even as the MyObamians begin their movement toward the convention coronation in Denver, another gap continues to widen, and it's generational in spirit if not in actual age (though the demographics suggest it is partially age-driven as can be seen in the MyObamian's largely youthful volunteers). I think of it as Real Life 2.0 (Society of the Query) vs Real Life 1.1 (Society of the TV Spectacle). Generally speaking, it's the difference between Portland and Pittsburgh (discuss among yourselves).

It will be interesting to see how Web 2.0 plays out in the general and, if the MyObamians win the White House, how it continues to influence the policy decision-making process thereafter.

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