The Rise of Make-Your-Own Culture

David Bollier writes:

Physicists and complexity theorists have a term for the moment when a liquid suddenly transforms into a gaseous state. It’s called a “phase transition.” A phase transition is not a linear, predictable change, but a sudden shift from apparent chaos and randomness to a “sweet spot” of dynamic equilibrium. The idea of a phase transition comes to mind when I look at the declining credibility and reputation of conventional mass media, especially television and radio, and the fierce proliferation of make-your-own creative genres. When will the phase transition to a new paradigm occur?

The sooner the better, if you ask me. Commercial TV is a morass of tawdry reality shows, smarmy sitcoms, kitschy and formulaic dramas, mud-wrestling pundits, and news that has all the gravitas and insight of a corporate Politboro. All of this is interspersed with 20 minutes of advertising an hour and subsidized by broadcasters’ free use of the public’s airwaves. Now that broadcasting has been almost wholly deregulated, you have to scratch pretty hard to find serious news and public affairs shows, challenging arts and culture programming, locally produced shows, educational shows or children’s programming. The market has spoken.

Given the lamentable decline of the mainstream media, the appeal of the emerging make-your-own culture should be obvious.

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