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(Don't want to live in a) hub and spoke world - click opera — LiveJournal
February 2010
 
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Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 01:16 am
(Don't want to live in a) hub and spoke world

85CommentReply

barnacle
barnacle
The Plain People of Ireland
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 09:02 am (UTC)
We all tube for iTube

YouTube is an excellent case study of what happens to alternatives to the hub-and-spoke system. When they reach a size that threatens the hegemony (like YouTube and MySpace both did) then they're almost immediately gobbled up by enormous hub-ist organisations like Google and the Murdoch empire. As Momus says, the hub is desperate to avoid the spokes from connecting up: if it can't prevent it through protectionism, then it will attempt to control and feed off the means of those connections out at the rim.

Google, and by association YouTube, might try to position itself as some sort of global, centreless, grass-roots love-in, but any organisation that doesn't even check whether or not the name for its new mail system is trademarked in Europe might provide an encyclopædia with its canonical example of capitalist chauvinism. And while it's possible to produce a pluralistic culture with the machines of monoculture, it's harder than you think to prevent the prevailing hub-culture from twisting the discourse round to its own way of thinking.

Don't forget that, through the selectivity of this column, all of the commenters here (me included) are busy on YouTube watching Jan Svankmajer and Japanese vloggers whose comments are translated for us by Hisae. Do you think the vast majority of YouTube users produce or consume anything of the sort? If so, then Hisae must be terribly busy.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 09:59 am (UTC)
Re: We all tube for iTube

And while it's possible to produce a pluralistic culture with the machines of monoculture, it's harder than you think to prevent the prevailing hub-culture from twisting the discourse round to its own way of thinking.

Exactly! This is one of the key problems with seeing the English language as a way for spoke F to talk to spoke T. Languages contain ways of thinking, built-in. They make certain conversations more likely. They tie us in to certain migratory corridors. And so on.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 10:17 am (UTC)

Because success is more closely tied to failure than people who do anything in their power to be winners seem to realize. Take the word "monoculture". It comes from crops, agriculture. It's a nightmare scenario, even for those who profit from it. If you phase out all the "loser" varieties of wheat, and concentrate on one super-high-yield variety, not only does everything start to taste the same, but when the blight comes, everything goes.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 10:32 am (UTC)

Well, you believe in stuff like variety and choice, don't you? You believe that dialogue is better than monologue?

At the start of today's piece I laid out shocking figures which show that British people have less and less foreign literature or foreign cinema available to them. This is an impoverishment, no? Now, behind it is a "success story" for the Hollywood studios and Anglo publishers. But that success is largely a financial one (and goes into the pockets of a relatively small number of already-wealthy people). Culturally, this "winning" is losing. It's impoverishment.

Imagine if I switched off comments on Click Opera. I wouldn't then have learned today from Trevor the excellent news that a phenomenon called "the hoga bubble" is happening, reversing the trend I had charted of US films taking more and more of the Japanese market. A great example of why dialogue is better than monologue!


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 12:09 pm (UTC)

I get a bit anxious when someone refers to a country as a "market" -- or a citizen as a "consumer", for that matter! It's the fact that citizens are more than consumers, and nations are more than markets, which makes government intervention in culture essential.


ReplyThread Parent
barnacle
barnacle
The Plain People of Ireland
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 02:51 pm (UTC)

Congratulations: you have had the luxury of developing those personal tastes in a richer environment than the prevailing monoculture. Even Adam Smith warned against too much reliance on the invisible guiding hand, and the whole thing was his idea. To claim from a position of good cultural education, in the face of potentially declining cultural variety, that the marketplace will solve problems that it has shown itself singularly ill-equipped to solve in the past will do nobody any good when all the well-rounded aesthetes are dead and buried.

And the notion that technology advances will somehow lead us without prompting, and legislative and cultural assiduousness, to mobility and liquidity in anything is utopian to say the least. It denies whole swathes of limiting technology: regionalization, DRM, biometric identification, improved surveillance and all the aspects of our lives that have become circumscribed by technological advances. Such a claim begs more questions than I know how to answer outside of a PhD thesis, but I note in passing that the only item of recent technology I own that I can guarantee will bring liquidity to almost any situation is my handheld blender. Even then, it's no good with nuts.


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