Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Internet as a Public Community

Recently I watched a video by Jeff Jarvis detailing the pros and cons surrounding the publicness and conversely, the privateness of the internet. As my work here on, and my ventures on YouTube would indicate, I am a strong proponent of the internet as a public medium. We should be open and willing to share stories and anecdotes, thoughts and experiences, not fall prey to the Puritanical subculture that inconspicuously affects us every day, and thus be opposed to the pursuit of comfort through anonymity.

(Link here:)

Yes, we should be open--but not excessively so. I can post images of myself, videos of myself, music by myself, blogs by myself, Tweets or Facebook statuses by myself that encompass myself and everything about myself.... Myself, myself, myself, etc. The internet certainly nurtures a culture of egotism. People will post something about themselves, they will get supportive comments, in the form of "Likes", "Diggs", "Thumbs Up", "Five Stars", whatever it be, and feel that much more confident about themselves. They will then take that positive energy into the outside world and may more fiercely, than they otherwise would, assert themselves in the public sphere, leading to social friction, tension, and a clashing of egos among similarly-minded egomaniacs.

And so, there are indeed two extremes of one's internet publicness. One being in the vein of a high school girl taking sexually suggestive photos of herself in her bathroom, with a whole array of Facebook albums to back that up, and the other being an oftentimes meek , anonymous internet "personality", if not, lack thereof that will from time to time post comment on,, etc. And in addition to this "personality", is as Jarvis details, an enraged commentor, one who feels totally excluded, and thus senses he or she is behind the illustrious "wall". This "wall" implies the media's exclusivity to the creation of their content, in that it excludes the public from fully participating in a "Crowdsourcing" kind of way.

"Crowdsourcing" is a phrase coined by Jarvis himself, examples of which include websites such as,,, and virtually any other blogging tool. These are inherently community-driven services that encourage contributors to contribute as much as possible, as a high a rate as possible, and in as high a quality as possible, all of which are incented by public recognition (as mentioned earlier, through comments, positive ratings).

Now back to the infamous "wall". It is what separates the communities of any enthusiast, political, or entertainment internet publication. It is what has its users post nasty, harsh, and brutal comments-it doesn't adequately allow for a two-way street as a proper conversation. In that, it doesn't equally value the comments as it does the original post. Commentors are seen as indiscriminant underlings in comparison to the initial creator, which couldn't be more backwards. Because you see, commentors, whose role it is to motivate the initial creators must create too! Only, they must create criticisms and render appropriate ratings. And in turn, it is up to the intial creators to absorb the [hopefully] constructive criticsms in hopes of further improving their content, whatever it be.

So as you can see, the internet is a tremendously cyclical form of media, and if its users fall back on their pseudonyms followed by a couple of supposedly "lucky" numbers, or hide behind their business desks and cubicles, their business positions, or salaries, the true voice, the true freedom of the internet as a place, as a destination will no longer exist as a result of government regulation. So it is our duty as internet users to proudly be who we are not solely in the physical space, but equally in cyberspace. This means we must use our full names whenever relevant, communicate to community contributors constructively what we like and dislike, and ultimately be respectful of our fellow users, because if we are true to ourselves-to our names-every user we come into contact with on the internet has an equally likely possibility to meet us in person some day and call us out on what we said. And who wants to get in a shouting match in public?

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