Tuesday, July 11, 2006
In recent weeks I have been really fascinated by the phenomenon of MySpace. So many of my (actual) friends have contacted me to encourage me to create a MySpace page: "You don't exist without MySpace," they say, "We can be friends online." (And here I am, thinking it's sometimes hard enough maintaining friends in the real world!)
So what is it about MySpace that has everyone moving in? I don't make it a habit to answer my own questions, as Philosophy was one of my hobbies back in the day. (Philosophy taught me that 'negotiation,' 'engagement' and 'dialogue' are words to be used in any sentence where an answer might be required). I think web-nerds (bloggers included!) are moving into MySpace because most net and new media speak specialises in a myth of self-recognition. We believe the hype of a new computer-mediated phenomenon if it is invested with a sense of (pseudo) individuality. Apple has a corner on this market, having named their product range after the 'i' of identity. The customisation of the iPod, iTunes, iPhoto or any other Apple product is stressed by the 'i' – a reference to lowercase selfsameness.
Even iPod ads cash in on the oldest advertising trick: presenting silhouetted figures blanked out and lacking identity to facilitate the psychic projection of ourselves onto these human colour fields. And the iPod and its wife iTunes present the illusion that we're in charge of the digital music revolution. By creating customised Playlists, the consumer is championed as a unique author, the artist a secondary effect. If iPod ads are to be believed, mp3s of our favourite songs provide a mere soundtrack to our identity and singularity. But not a days go by when I don't see the world overrun by iPod people, including myself. Where's the individuality here?
While the Artswipe got serious on some veiled Marxist critique of the iPod and its friends, an automated email from iTunes announced that it's New Music Tuesday. Following I bet, another MySpace Monday.