I just activated a Twitter account.  My entry into that social medium has been quite befuddling—not sure what I am to post or what to look for in the posts of others.  A new book project is now in the works with Cascade Books on media and theology, so I decided to indulge myself with Twitter (for research purposes, of course).

A casual glance at Tweets did, however, allow me to notice Publishers Weekly reporting that print book sales are up right now.  I have conveniently hyperlinked that phrase so you can instantly launch from this post to the PW article if you would like.

If you are still with me, resisting the urge to click that underlined phrase in calm, sky blue, then I thank you.  Nicholas Carr has written that the type of reading rewarded online is distracted reading—the hyperlinked text promises adventure, like a surprising new detour branching off in a promising new direction (still with me, or did you follow the link to Carr’s blog or to his book’s page on Amazon?).

An interesting phenomenon of the Internet’s textual dimension is what I just did with Carr’s name.  The underlined blue signifies a portal.  Click his name and you are directed to his very own plot of digitized real estate on the Web.

Paradoxically, the Internet is an invisible world that only exists visibly (at least for most of us who have never seen any of those databank-thingys that apparently exist out there in material form).

If you are going to be somebody in this strange invisible-visible realm, your name should appear underlined, and not in dull black but cool blue.

If your name is not adorned so, your identity in this world is, well, a bit diminutive.  Online validation occurs by the accumulation of “hits.” If your name cannot represent some site to which hits are directed, I am afraid to say that your cyber-self status is rather low.  Of course, this is tongue-in-cheek chatter, but I think it is important to recognize that the Internet in many respects depicts that bedeviling inevitability for any society—stratified echelons.  You have your online commoners and your online elites.

It is regularly emphasized that the Internet democratizes media.  This is certainly true to an extent.  Media-production has historically been the domain of the powerful, but now any of us can make a video and publish it on YouTube…

Wait… did I say anyone?  I suppose one would need a video camera and one of those cords that hooks up to a computer.  Ah yes, one would need access to that computer.  So we have eliminated massive swaths of humanity already.  (Follow the underlined blue to read a previous post on this called “History, Media, the Bible, and the Poor“).

Computer and Internet access is bound to expand and increase, so the democratization of media is indeed underway.  Well and good.  But we should recognize that the Internet is nonetheless a tiered, stratified society.  Those who names do not appear on the Google search are nonexistent citizens in that realm.  And the property owners can be easily identified… just look for the underlined blue.

 

[What do you think, dear readers?  If I am going to be writing a new book on media stuff, I should take advantage of the access this quasi-democratizing realms avails for input.  Would you agree or disagree that the Internet is a stratified society?  I am shooting from the hip here, thinking aloud, and eager to learn… and commenters with un-hyperlinked names are warmly welcomed!]

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