Monday, 21 October 2013

Welcome to the matrix

Responding to my earlier piece on the fetishism of vinyl (records, random saucy Googlers), Dave of the excellent Didsbury Bookshop sends me this Walter Benjamin quote, which he suggests applies as much now with reference to Twitter as it did then, when cinema and radio were the scary new media:

Obviously he wasn't talking about Twitter, those of you who arrived here looking for essay material, but Dave's right. The move from élite media to mass media did involve a degree of disreputable activity: a colleague reminds me that it took a mere 7 years from the invention of photography before a man was arrested for selling shots of a woman in congress with a pony.* In more recent times of course, video and DVD sales were driven by pornography: lots of people wanted the material but didn't much fancy the experience of going to a porn cinema. I think Benjamin would have seen Twitter in the same way: the form invites 'disreputable' use as much as 'reputable' use, but like printing, cinema and the web in general, a thousand flowers will bloom, not all of which will be organising lynch mobs, cyber-bullying, being cruel to sensitive politicians or sexting. Equally, not all social media use will revolve around organising bridge night and Mozart appreciation evenings - nor should it.

*Citation very much needed.

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