Wednesday, 30 November 2011

LA shows divide of how people use the web

Divided city, tweet concentrations overnight in LA show a cluster around the Occupy Eviction cam and Hollywood Boulevard, showing the division of economic and social perspectives that characterize our times.
Map of tweet densities in Los Angeles for the night of November 29th to 30th.  You can see two clusters, the largest is a the Occupy camp as police clear the camp.  These tweets are from journalists,onlookers and politically engaged people involved in a global issue.  Northwest you have Hollywood. See Wikipedia and Google drill down on Hollywood. Not to be too harsh on Hollywood Boulevard but we doubt many people going there late at night are much concerned with the state of the world.

This map shows a marked line that is developing in the Internet, and shows how history and geography are defining that line.  A large group of people want the web to be an engaged place of social discourse and debate. Against this is a trend for the web to be a collection of entertainment or trivial facts.

Someone tweeting from Hollywood Boulevard is going to tweet things like their hands fit in the hands of some actor who pressed them against a side walk.  Someone tweeting from the Occupy camp is going to be talking about free speech, protest, policing and social justice.

If you agree with the Occupy movement or not you can certainly see that two radically different ways of looking at the web are at work here.  Will the web be the new book or the new TV.  Certainly there a dumb books and smart TV shows, but the way the media has been organised in our culture TV has become dominated by content with no real social or cultural value or meaning, which books contain the great ideas and debates of our times.  To say I read a lot is to say I am informed, to say I watch a lot of TV is to say I am pretty ill informed.

The Internet provides both kinds of media creation, and certainly I have nothing against posting silly things you see to the web on your day to day life for the amusement of your friends, but we should be aware a major struggle is going on for the social and political value of the web.  The US lost TV, the greatest communication revolution before the web was turned to selling soap and telling us who wants to be a millionaire.  Lets hope we can do better with the web.

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