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Tuesday, 16 February 2010

It's the idea that matters, not the artist

The early 2000s saw complete unknowns enjoying their "15 minutes of fame" with the emergence of reality television. The lives of these people were briefly in the media spotlight, despite having contributed nothing of worth.  As we move into the next decade, it's worth noting how measures of fame have changed, especially on the internet.  Web 2.0 first went mainstream in 2006, with content shared and created by ordinary people - people who had previously been end-users only - spreading across the net as sites such as Flickr, Wikipedia and Youtube allowed for rapid dissemination of information like never before.  It's arguable that, as we bid farewell to the 2000s (and ten years of Big Brother), fame is centred not on the individual but rather on content, concepts and memes. 

Ideas now spread virally and are shared through sites such as Hubclub (Facebook), Stumbleupon and Twitter. 76 million people have viewed the Harry Potter Puppet Pals videos on Youtube, yet very few of them will know that it was created by a Neil Cicierega.  Angry Hitler, Lolcats and Chuck Norris facts; millions will be familiar with these memes, but very few will know the creative minds behind them.  Such a situation is unthinkable for the old media of film, television, print and music.  Internet anonymity, both in terms of the creator as a person (worthy of "tabloid interest", so to speak) and the creator as a creator, is perhaps due to the wikiesque volunteering of ideas that is characteristic of the online community.  Contributions are made without any expectation of monetary reward or copyright.   On the internet, it's the idea that matters, not the artist.

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