Core Post 5: Post TV
From this week’s readings, I was particular interested in Prof. McPherson’s “Reload: Liveness, Mobility, and the Web.” Prof. McPherson draws a parallel from Jane Feuer’s observation of Television as having an essential element of liveness (or the illusion of liveness) that also remains a central feature of the Web. Prof. McPherson states that this notion of liveness while navigating the Web, structure “a feeling that our own desire drives the movement,” (202) offering a sensation she calls volitional mobility. Volitional mobility is the sensation a web surfer experiences as he/she navigates the web as if they have the ability to control/customize their virtual journey. It gives the user a deceptive facade and a fabricated sensation of feeling in control. Prof. McPherson specifically points out how search engines are “powerful programs which promote the illusion that one is actively surfing the Web” (206). She goes on to say “Of course, when you use a search engine, you’re not really moving through the Web, but through fairly limited databases. […] Rather, you remain within a contained database, usually cataloguing less than thirty to forty percent of the Web as a whole” (206). The user/surfer believes that there is autonomy within their expression of individuality and choice of content, but in reality, it furthers to “privilege commercial sites” (206).
Because of this, both cultural homogeneity and corporate interests are kept alive through a unifying global network. The Web enforces a global cultural homogeneity through users’ communication with each other in cyberspace. We (or at least I) believe that there is a sense of agency when searching things online, but in actuality, the same websites and formats like Google, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. are predetermined by commercial interests. And many of the sites that aren’t commercial or capitalized on are either difficult to find or hidden within the deep web – a part of the Web where the content cannot be discovered by conventional search engines. In an era where vanity, self-obsession, and having a sense of individualism seem to pervade social media, the Web (at least the surface Web) provides a space for dominant organizations and corporate institutions to reinforce common homogeneous inclinations of desire. These uniform desires could be veiled underneath an ostensibly individual niche market. For example, with the rise of internet subcultures/internet subculture style (such as cyberpunk, vaporwave, seapunk, health goth, normcore, etc), corporate institutions may not be appropriating, but they are certainly capitalizing and benefiting on these so-called individual styles. Take the internet subculture ‘health goth’ for instance, whose ‘dark’ fashion aesthetic includes wearing sportswear like Nike, Adidas, Puma, etc. These global and unifying internet subcultures are ultimately furthering the interests and the continuation of a neo-Fordist capitalism.