28 octobre 2008

Collaboration v. Institution

Clay Shirky shows how closed groups and companies will give way to looser networks where small contributors have big roles and fluid cooperation replaces rigid planning.
emerging technologies enabling loose collaboration will change the way our society works. [See the lecture at TED on video]
"How do groups get anythings done? How do you organise a group of individuals so that the output of the group is something coherent and of lasting value instead of just being chaos? [..]
The answer is to put the cooperation into the infrastructure, to design systems that coordinate the output of the group as a byproduct of the operating system, without regard to the institutional models."
The Blogosphere is exactly that. Web 2.0 builds in a system that allows people to communicate across platforms, countries and institutions, with RSS feeds, blogrolls, and tags. Folksonomy, or collaborative tagging, is an example of user-generated taxonomy that finds its place in the big picture when everyone only deals with the tags that best suit their own need.
Of course tags are not 100% reliable, and it is disconcerting to the conservatives at the Institution, editors in serious newspapers, critics from reputable magazines. But the scale of this new pool of information takes on a completely different dimension. That's why we can't compare the Press with the Blogosphere, point by point! The competition is unfair. And the purposes are not even equivalent.
The wealth of the Internet doesn't function on a Zero-error model like the Press (though we could challenge this proverbial infallibility...) but thanks to statistical laws, the inevitable misinformation can be easily overlooked, and the reliable content will eventually surface. Now the advantage of this new model is that if you accept that EVERYONE (non-academics) is allowed to contribute (for free), to give their personal opinion, their own definition, thus as much potential mistakes, you benefit from a wisdom of global efficiency! We may access a much larger range of subjects, trivia and sources than if a radically smaller number of Institutions struggle to publish these informations one by one. The accuracy of the Blogosphere is in its size.

A blog shall never threaten the authority of a newspaper (maybe a couple of lucky bloggers, for exceptional reasons), the Blogosphere shall not be substituted to the role of Institutions. That's why the defiance is ridiculous on both sides. The Blogosphere is like a anthill, where the activity of the individual doesn't matter, as long as the global community prevails in the end. The contribution of many benevolent bloggers generates an ensemble of powerful content for the Internet-savvy reader. There is no obligation of regular periodicity, dispatch of topics, organisation of work, because the enormous crowd shall eventually cater to all imaginable needs. This is because every blogger does whatever they want/like that the resource of the Blogosphere is constantly alimented with fresh new insights that the reader is able to hand-pick for a custom reading.
The activity of the writer and the activity of the reader are totally distinct online from the old paradigm of the paper media. We no longer follow the ONE source we were conditioned to trust, we are empowered by the choice to elect our own content.

"As with the printing Press, if it's really revolutionary it doesn't take us from point A to point B, it takes us from point A to chaos. The printing Press precipitated 200 years of chaos, moving from a world where the Catholic Church was some sort of an organising political force to the treaty of Westphalia when we finally knew what the new union was the nation-state. Now I'm not predicting 200 years of chaos... but 50 years in which loosely coordinated groups are going to be given increasingly high leverage. And the more those groups forego institutional imperatives, like deciding in advance what's going to happen or the profit motive or the leverage they'll get. And institutions are going to come under an increasing amount of pressure, and the more rigidly managed and the more they'll rely on information monopolies, the greater the pressure is going to be. And this is going to happen one arena at the time, one institution at the time. The forces are general but the results are going to be specific. The point is not that we're going to transition from only institutions to only cooperative framework. It's going to be much more complicated than that. But it's going to be a massive reajustment. And since we can't see in advance what's coming, we might as well get good at it."
The parallel with Film Criticism follows the same pattern. The Institution is the anointed official Press, and the Collaborative is the pro bono amateur blogosphere. And the conclusions are identical... we can see the first results already in the recent economic crisis of the paper business model. It just doesn't work like it used to anymore!
Readers feel less enslaved by the hegemony of a relatively small number of venues emitting the news, and they want to diversify their choices, instead of staying faithful to a particular revue, like if they were football fans... The consumers are less "captive", subscriptions are less sustainable, but even the quality of these magazines are less permanent as they used to.
And the flourishing offers online give the power back in the hands of the consumer. Readers don't have to settle with the meagre choice of the Press Establishment, they may now find riches on the Internet or even create their own content for other readers.
The exclusivity of official and reliable information is over because it is available to all : IMDb, Wikipedia, GreenCine Daily, Google... Is it dangerous? Only to the economic model of the paper Press. But I don't think that we should see this as a danger of misinformation in the big picture of Film Discourse. This is a chance to bring in more people to the table, spontaneous candidates, passionate cinephiles, from diverse background, new profiles, people who would have been turned down or discouraged by the Institutional route...

2 commentaires:

HarryTuttle a dit…

Pascual Espiritu aka acquarello (NYFF, 9-27-2008) :

"About the comment, do we go to schools and add it as a part of the curriculum. I think that’s exactly where the advantage of the Internet is. You don’t have to make it institutionalized, where they have to learn it here. It’s basically for them to stumble onto film when they’re ready for it. I think that’s one of the advantages of being on the Internet versus being in print, especially something like a daily where the next day it’s going to get pushed to the back or recycled. Fortunately, if it’s on the Web, it’s going to be there practically forever. So it’s at your leisure, it’s at the people’s convenience when they’re ready for it, or when they’re looking to go in that direction it’s available for them."

HarryTuttle a dit…

Nick James in Sight & Sound (Oct 2008): "Who needs critics?"

"This is not a call for critical purity among official critics. Bloggers have the advantage over print film reviewers in really free speech: they have no professional responsibilities, or policy interventions to deal with. They can write at any length and access historical material that once was restricted to library collections. The web offers an opportunity for another golden age of film criticism, as long as its adherents can get access to new films."

In the same issue (but offline), Mark Fisher "On Critics: Bloggers without boundaries" :

"It's no accident that many of the most interesting blog sites are para-academic spaces where theoretical work that would never appear in the circumscribed pages of academic journals can emerge and be discussed. The best blogs are defined by this quality: they occupy a space between journalism and academia, between disciplines, between film and other cultural forms, offering a new type of criticism."