Networked Age Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Public dialog in a network age can cover a lot of topics. The network age is filled with a plethora of varying interests, ideas, subjects, and issues. Some of which relate to privacy, piracy, and even technology. People often forget what an impact the Internet has made in the last couple of decades, even in just 8 years. ANON came into existence, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter came into popularity, and the recent concept of content creators has shaped the way people view and accept media. With all these innovative ideas that came out, what kind of impression has it left on the public? What were the origins of some of these topics? And moreover, has the Internet shaped the identity of people in the last decade?

Several events within internet history have made public dialog important. People need to discuss and analyze things in order to fully understand something and adopt it into their culture. Such is that of content creation. When YouTube first came out it made history because it was the first of its kind to successfully implement a video sharing website amidst an audience,

Lanier does an excellent job of expressing the kind of mentality developers and inventors have over their identity online. "One might ask, "If I am blogging, twittering, and wikiing a lot, how does that change who I am?" Or "If the 'hive mind' is my audience, who am I?" We inventors of digital technologies are like stand-up comedians…" (Lanier 4) Much like other content creators, people often lose sight of their identity amidst the Internet stream. Groups that exist online sometimes adopt a "hive" mentality when it comes to their opinions for fear of being excluded or ridiculed. With technology making it easier to go online anywhere, even away from the home, it makes that need to please and be a part of the online culture, greater.

Furthermore, content creators have learned to use humor as a means of connecting to their audience. Sites like YouTube, offer content creators a means in which to build a platform. The audience has a chance to vote whether they like the videos or not and this in turn provides valuable insight to the content creators on what is entertaining and attracts fans. Facebook does the same thing. The "like" button allows fans and audiences to express their like for something and gives them an option to share it.

Sharing is something that can easily become part of the mainstream culture and is quality most often seen derived from the internet. People haven't seen this level of sharing ever as people now reveal part of their personal life they never would have like their personal struggles and their mental health. People are so connected and willing to reveal their personal lives to the masses, that sharing, expressing one's self online has become the norm. And with the latest technology making it that much easier to perform the tasks of sharing and expression, it's no wonder people in the modern age are obsessed with social media.

This then becomes a part of greater themes. Some of which are empowerment and privacy. "Computers have gotten millions of times more powerful, and immensely more common and more connected, since my career began-which was not so very long ago." (Lanier 8) Before the advent of computer technology, especially the Internet, people did not have the convenience nor ability to instantly connect. Now one can text, email, voice chat, and video chat even if they are thousands of miles away. Sites like Instagram capture sometimes the daily lives of people which can be viewed anywhere thanks to mobile and smartphone technology.

New technology empowers people to do more and share more, leading to less and less privacy for the average person who incorporates this kind of internet culture to their everyday life. It leads to more problems, some of which have come into recent debate. One thing that people have focused on, governments have focused on is online piracy. Piracy has become a part of internet culture. People steal songs, movies, games easily and quickly from websites easily found on However as Lessig explains, several kinds of piracy are useful. "Many kinds of "piracy" are useful and productive, to produce either new content or new ways of doing business. Neither our tradition nor any tradition has ever banned all "piracy" in that sense of the term." (Lessig 66) Piracy empowers people to take control of their media. If people want to watch something without paying for it, they can. The internet does that for them. The people, like the content creators and media creators, then, have a stake in the matter as they fear they lose money from people making and downloading illegal content.

Technology previously was limited to home use. However now people can pirate things from anywhere on their mobile phones. There are websites specifically geared towards smartphone downloads. People can conveniently get their favorite movies, TV shows, songs, all for free, all within an hour or so, depending on the file size, anywhere that has Wi-Fi. The digital age has truly produced a new level of data streaming, data availability and data manipulation

When looking at the origins of piracy, it's important to examine Napster. Napster was the first main source of peer-to-peer file sharing. "Peer-to-peer sharing was made famous by Napster. But the inventors of the Napster technology had not made any major technological innovations…had simply put together components that had been developed independently" (Lessig 67) Napster made filmmakers, song writers, and media artists become aware of how easy it is to steal media. They also became aware of the growing concern of piracy and its supposed effects on sales. Thanks to file sharing, the public was exposed to easy and quick ways to get their desired media. It paved the way for the plethora of sites and services that stream either stolen or licensed media and provided fuel for the "other side" to implement laws to avoid people stealing their work.

Although companies like Napster and websites like Mega Upload were eventually seized by the government, it still didn't stop other websites from taking its place. Does it affect sales of media? That question is often regarded with a "No" because sales of films, DVDs, songs, and the like have gone up. If people like something, they're willing to pay for it. Piracy allows them to sample the chosen media and see for themselves if they will become a fan or not. Although not all forms of piracy are good, most seem to have a limited effect on media sales.

Internet culture does not just contain piracy and innovation. It also contains ANON or Anonymous. Sites like 4 Chan have made a mark on the Internet and the public. This is because ANON has the ability to reveal information that would otherwise stay hidden. A lot of these ANON are hackers and possess the ability to hack into websites, etc. To obtain information. They then become markers for what is accepted in the internet. Images like Pedobear have leaked into mainstream. Shows like Jackass and even recently, Ridiculousness, have made it their selling point to run material that provides laughter and "lulz." As Coleman explains, the spirit of lulz is what fuels not just ANON, but several other groups. "The spirit of lulz is not particular to Anonymous, the Internet, trolling, or our times. The Dadaists and Yippies shared a similarly rowdy disposition, as did the Situationists and Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers; more recently, the Yes Men have tightly fused pranksterism and activism…" (Coleman 84) Without this desire to laugh at the misfortune of others, this while subculture would never exist and neither would the ability to reveal the information hidden to the masses.

Mainstream media is not informing the public. is another site that is driven by anonymous users and shows things even mainstream news coverage often neglects. They post things, mostly images that create buzz and sometimes even leak onto mainstream adding to the usefulness of its creation and implementation. A perfect example of something fueled by ANON that leaked into mainstream Internet, is Boxxy. Boxxy is a young woman who was featured on 4 Chan and became an Internet sensation. The attention from her new fans even garnered her a job on YouTube as a successful content creator. ANON, an aspect of the internet that has still to be figured out, has contributed to the rise of the Internet age and popularity of the medium because it offers content and news that cannot be derived from mainstream source.

What are the origins of ANON? Coleman explains ANON first came into being eight years ago via 4 Chan. "Anonymous, which came into being on the online message board 4 Chan eight years ago, is by nature and intent difficult to define: a name employed by various groups of hackers, technologists, activists, human rights advocates, and geeks…" (Coleman 83) 4 Chan…

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