Friday, April 20, 2007

Personal Exploitation

When I was in New York this week I had lunch with one of our company advisors who was one of the pioneers in interactive advertising. We were talking at length about user generated content, fame, and personal exploitation. My thesis is that there are two things driving the current generations expressive behavior, 1. The idea that entertainment requires a persons direct involvement to make it personal and worthwhile and 2. A desire for fame or status.

We talked around the topic a bit and he said something to the effect that it is fascinating that people both appear driven to and desirous of exploiting themselves. That is, they either don't understand or in fact don't mind exploiting themselves if they gain some kind of recognition, fame or notoriety. I don't like to think of it that way necessarily but I think a lot rings true to those words. I brought up the Jackass films and he said that although that was exploitation, it was brilliant and what we are seeing is a broad commonness to self exploitation on some of these websites. It was an interesting talk.

That evening as I sat in my hotel in Boston, I sat dumbstruck as I watched the footage broadcast by NBC of the Virginia Tech killer. I couldn't believe that NBC felt compelled to release something that not only provided no real value or insight, but also at some level validated the actions of the killer, at least in the eyes of others who would pursue similar actions in the future.

One of the most interesting things about user generated/edge of the network/consumer media is the potential for media that originates outside of the center of the network to be able to harness the massive reach and distribution of mainstream media. At it's best you have the Adam Stacy subway bombing pictures which provided a haunting and visceral image of news as it happens, at it's worst it is a news organization taking advantage of it's selection by a killer to broadcast his rants and insanity. I have great respect for NBC Universal as a company and I can only hope in the future that they make the decision to avoid these sorts of missteps.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I was struck by this post. As you know, I have an invested interest in progressive cultural theory and the more and more I reflect upon society (when I get the chance to) the more and more I have an eerie feeling that Phillip K. Dick was not only 20th centuries most important philosopher, but he was almost a "Nostrodamus" type individual whose predictions may someday be our reality.

I am obviously a believer in the freedom of information and all consumer products that make communication and information accessable and immediate for all people regardless of sex, race, or religion. However, the ways in which humans use it can be frightening.

I think the major question is that can humans ever free themselves of power-hierarchies (ie. the economy and quest for fame = power/wealth)?
Well at least that is the question in my brain today.

One would think that the power of immediate information would somehow propel society past these systems.

...sidenote...
I heard democratic and republican parties shaking in their boots about the up and coming presidential elections. It seems that they are deathly afraid of the power that the bloggers/public have in todays news and media.
Looks like their spin on the "truth" might actually have come to a close.

ha ha....so the bad comes with the good.

I still side with the progress of information accessability and networking.