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Luke Barats and Joe Bereta are indelibly cemented into the YouTube hall of duo successes. Known for their popular YouTube channel BaratsandBereta, they have become a strong comedic duo capable of raking in views at an astounding rate. However, there is a very true reality surrounding these two – they simply wouldn’t exist without the platform that YouTube offers. It’s a form of commensalism that has been cultivated and can be seen repetitively in the archives of YouTube.

Barats and Bereta MANtage

So the assignment on Thursday was to go and make a substantial edit on Wikipedia to see if it could last through Saturday (today). Well it just so happens I had gone in on the Tuesday before and was playing around with the concept of trying to find a topic to edit – so I figured beanies were pretty obscure. I went to the page, skimmed over it looking for something quirky to add in and there it was

“The beanie cap is typically made of wool or felt and…”

Of course this was my opportunity to add in the velvet beanie

“The beanie cap is typically made of wool felt velvet and…”

However, upon receiving the assignment in class I knew I had to go in to try and make a more substantial edit. So I went in and made up this whole story about velvet beanies that went something like this…

“In recent years beanie production has adapted to warmer climates. Now considered to be a trending fashion item in South America, manufacturers have utilized the use of velvet to produce a beanie that is much more tolerable in warmer climates. Cross thatching is often used to allow for extra heat release which is coupled with stressed velvet in order to keep the user cool and fashionable.”

On top of that, in order to provide some sort of a reference I even created a YouTube video in order try and get it past the Wiki editors, it went something like this…

Unfortunately, it failed…miserably. Within 24 hours. Congrats to the Wiki editors for being on top of their game. BUT! Victory still stands thanks to the velvet beanie possibility

Velvet Beanie Victory...kind of

Wikipedia – never really understood the basics of it until about an hour ago. It’s a pretty fascinating concept and the fact that almost half the content is generated by 1% of the users is simply mind boggling. I think I’d enjoy meeting one of those few elite Wikipedians.

One neat aspect of this wikipedia is the discussion button at the top (I had never noticed it before). You can actually go in and see disputes over certain bits of content under an article and see the debate that takes place. One of the most interesting and perhaps professional article debates takes place on the 9/11 discussion page. Before anyone really gets to discussing specific points, one of the editors addresses everyone throwing out his proposed edits all at once in order to organize and initiate. Within his letter he

  1. States what he believes needs to be change
  2. States specific sources in order to back up why he wants something changed
  3. States his credentials in case a dispute arises over validity

Though too long to quote, I highly recommend that everyone read his letter and take note of the professionalism involved. And this isn’t the only discussion page that is like this, a majority of the discussion pages all exhibit high levels of rhetoric and utilize specific sources in order to debate for a change.

(In Progress)

The Panopticon may seem like a brilliant architectural Valhalla. How ever, now we must face the newest in opticon designs – the Non-Opticon. With improved sneaking capabilities, this new idea is the ultimate in the line of self-policing strategies. With the capability to go completely undetected, the government watches you without giving the notion that you’re being tracked through a virtual world, comparable to the capabilities of our stealth reconnaissance jets. Perhaps this may come across as a terrifying idea to the everyday law abiding citizen. However, to most peons, fear of the government spying on web activities shouldn’t exist. The government simply doesn’t have enough employees to go through and sort through what is being viewed. Granted they do have computer systems that are developing the capabilities to (and they will eventually utilize them), but for the most part they simply don’t care about the YouTube videos you view, the porn sites you visit or the anti-government rants you post on your hate blog. We do need to understand though a majority of what they’re keeping track of is a preventative measure to help lower internet crime and to signal indications to officials of people that may commit crimes (by understanding what they’re searching for on the internet).

The other day in class a comment was made concerning the internet that was rather questionable. The on going debate in class was focused around the various dynamics associated with net neutrality. The student that spoke up roughly stated that we are the users that generate a majority of the internet content and that we have the right to control the internet, not the big corporations like AT&T and Verizon. Our professor stated that it’s almost a matter of if the internet should become a utility – so I applied it to the student’s comment and it came across as,

“Electricity is our right, we screw in a majority of the lightbulbs, we should own it.”

I’m afraid the majority of us were not the ones that developed the infrastructure surrounding the electrical grids, or the generators, or laid the cables, and you get the picture, the list goes on and on. However, the student did strike a chord on something. I believe there is something fiercely territorial in all of us concerning the openness of the internet. The freedom that surrounds the infinite space. Be it socialist, capitalist, democrat or republican – the internet has the ability to move all of us forward and it’s a matter of protecting the thoughts that we put out for the world to see.

Personally I think that our freedom of expression on the internet can be protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I hope this spurs on debate, the true form of problem solving.

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, and regardless of frontiers.” Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.” Article 19, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of borders.” Article 10, European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

I support Net Neutrality. In no way should a corporation be involved to such a level that it restricts the very people who contribute to it on a daily basis.

Here we find an article that states that Google, once a great supporter of net neutrality has actually reversed it’s position. In my opinion that’s a little extreme to say they’ve gone the opposite way. I’d  say that Google is a company and they are implementing business strategy in order to survive. They are simply covering their bases when they’re seen negotiating a specific channel for their content with phone companies.

Alright, I feel like it’s time to stir things up a bit instead of just going with the flow. I like the internet. I think it’s fascinatingly complex and has a high potential for both good and bad to prevail. However, when it comes to “democracy” I’m just not so sure.

First off, let’s keep in mind that the U.S. is NOT a direct democracy. It could even be argued that it is a republic, but for the sake of keeping things on track we’ll settle with calling it a  democracy or a representational democracy – a democracy in which the people elect leaders to represent them.

So the internet comes along. Politicians tap into the fundraising, grass roots, constituent outreach capabilities and it’s good. The people start to blog, YouTube and spam email accounts about political issues…and it’s…rough to say the least. By rough I mean the citizens of this nation are becoming extremely polarized.

uncle sam youtube

One right wing nut posts up some crazy statement and a left winger completely destroys him through either a direct internet comment or a post about an equally absurd idea. The cycle grows. It involves more and more people. The sides entrench themselves further through brazen comments. Things heat up so much that it overcomes the masses of the middle. Anyone left standing either picks a side or leaves. They don’t participate which in turn, kills Democracy.

We are supposed to, as Americans, be able to come from both sides of the political spectrum and initiate as well as participate in civilized debates on issues in order to meet in the middle. That’s the America of old I learned about in my history classes. I don’t know what all of this vicious banter going on now is – people acting like chimps as opposed to educated human beings. Perhaps this is why we need politicians and not a mob rule by the people. The internet is not encouraging debate, it is encouraging polarization.

Here you can find an article by Chris Saccomanno that clearly argues that the internet is in no way bad for democracy. Despite my respectful disagreement with the piece, Saccomanno does speak some truth. He states that the internet allows even more free speech than before which is “key to a vibrant democracy.” Yes Chris, vibrant indeed – full of racial slurs, hate messages and unproductive debate. In order to achieve a “strengthened democracy” an assembly of maturer and wiser internet users will have to amass before we can see a serious change.

Since the beginning of the web we have seen a gradual destruction of certain events within our everyday lives. Many of these you can find here. However, I personally have experienced the decommission of several affairs.

atom bomb

1. College Visits – I highly suggest that if you have a high schooler sibling and a money saving parent that you do not show them how to use Google’s Street View technology. With this new ability to get an eye-level view on practically any street you can gain a fairly realistic feel for a college campus and/or college town. Granted it’s not the exact same as the real thing  – the lack of a face to face meeting with an admissions advisor, no purchasing of college apparel, but as I stated, if you have a money saving parent just don’t go there.

2. The Dictionary – I can’t remember the last time I flipped through the actual pages of a dictionary. Why do that when dictionary.com is so much easier? Plus it has a variety of others tools readily available like the instant thesaurus,  encyclopedia and translator.

3. CDs (music) – I literally have not purchased a cd since 6th grade. YouTube, iTunes, Frostwire, Limewire. I type in the song I want and I have it. Simple as that.

Social Networking

1.  An article published by the New York Times. Focuses primarily on Cisco’s acquisition of Tribe.net. Tribet.net creators insisted that social networking sites should be able to form to one’s own interests and that Facebook and MySpace severely limit customization.

2. An article published by The Atlantic. This was a really thought provoking article for me. It brings up the possibility that instead of the internet connecting everyone, it’s just connecting the same people in a different way. I really recommend this for everyone.

3. Not exactly the most professional article. None the less I felt somewhat enlightened after reading the article and it helped me draw more connections to class in order to understand the business side of emerging media.

(Still in development)

In Andrew Keen’s book The Cult of the Amateur, we find that on page 15 he believes the internet now responds to

“the law of digital Darwinisim, the survival of the loudest and most opinionated. Under these rules, the only way to intellectually prevail is by infinite fillibustering.”

First off, Keen is concerned that we are descending down into a pit of cocophony in which only the super opinonated people “prevail intellectually.”  This is absurd.

Yes, the net is full of ridiculous youtube videos and blogposts. But are those posts no more than what we experience in everyday life? These people are the same ones we have dealt with for years. The socially inept, the  class clowns, the loudmouths. They always did something crazy either to make you laugh or to be contradictory just because that was their personality. And yet we all know them. It’s all talk with nothing backing them up, which is another point Andrew Keen makes. He states that

“What the Web 2.0 revloution is really delivering is superficial observations of the world around us rather than deep analysis, shrill opinion rather than considered judgement.”

We can see that Web 2.0 has simply heightened the typical antics that these attention seekers posess to a new level. Yes, some may become a web superstar because of it, and some may benefit financially, but these people are certainly not “prevailing intellectually.” Many are being lost in the vast chasm of the web.

In order to succeed you must have a creative edge to an idea and you have to know what you’re talking about. The same basics apply to Web 2.0. People are transitioning from the physical or “real” world and translating it into symbols and circuits in order to move us to the virtual world.

This can simply be proven by typing in “top 10 blogs” on your favorite search engine. Instantly you get a list of 10 blogs that mainly focus upon some sort of issue that is highly present in today’s culture. Let’s take Avinash Kaushik’s blog. It was the #1 Web Analytics blog. Reading through it you can clearly see that this man is not being absurd. He has a solid thought process and is putting out creative ways in order to market blogs. Obviously his blog has helped humanity due to his success.

We can clearly see that Keen’s digital Darwinism only applies to a small portion of succesful internet viewers and that there is plenty of deep analysis out on the web. It’s how we respond to the information we’re seeing that determines if there is considered judgment or simply shrill opinion.