‘The website is DEAD!’ proclaimed the folks who let their websites die off to replace their writing place with the ease of Twitter or the community of Tumblr. Moving from the tick-a-tack adorned HTML of communication to the hollow space of the ‘profile’, people whom made things became ‘content creators’, and simultaneously, ‘users’. The beautiful age of self-publishing had gotten sucked back in to the mass media monolith. And the gifts of ‘followers’ and ‘likes’ and the instant ego satiation kept the ‘users’ so busy that they failed to notice what they had traded: status as independent publishers, lost, in exchange for the new role of corporate product, and status of corporate product creator.
I used to get my corporate news when I went to the bastions of corporate culture. In the life of a punk, this was generally the doctors office. 45 minutes to spare, I would turn my eyes to the pages of whatever magazines littered their tables, and look on to see what society was up to these days. ‘Apple is making a multi-coloured computer’ I would say to myself, looking at an ad for the first iMac. The advertising came from a ho-hum place, a world that did not exist in concert with my world, whose pitch and origination in the universe seemed alien to mine. Mid-to-late 90s ads for Gap khakis, computers, and the occasional prescription drug seemed miles away from the reality I existed in. Both in world view and in aesthetic.
My world was that of what was visible from the side walks of my neighborhood. Urban. Old. Graffiti was the message of the day. Shephard Fairey stickers for magazines being put out by friends of friends was the new aesthetic. That and other things made by friends of friends, and friends, and me. And we never felt alienated. We felt connected. We had a world where we were both supply and demand.
But as time moved on, the empowering force of internet came and soon our friends, and friends of friends, now shared their creations digitally. Intrigued, I taught myself the new language and built places for friends and friends of friends, and even made some money in the process. And things were good.
But mass scale society was still alienated from the technology. Punks generally tend to be on the cusp of things, making the things ourselves. Little did we know that DIY would eventually become a mantra for knitting magazines, or our ethos heralded as a ‘new movement’ in business in the form of start-ups. And that eventually, all this would come back to visit us under the guise of empowerment, but actually ripping us from the culture we had created, and integrating us into the millenial version of those doctor’s office magazines. But this time, with us working for them, and profits and power being sent to the top.
‘The website is Dead”? No. We have just disenfranchised ourselves.