I wrote the below on a protracted train journey between Hull and Norwich, thinking this awestruck article about Random Shit’s internet hidey-hole would be the only snippet in my sheaf of weekend newspapers to arouse my ire. Oh, how wrong I was. It seems last weekends’ newspapers were positively brimming with the kind of think pieces Joe tries to confiscate from me for my own good.
The piece in question was a profile of ‘meme hothouse’ 4chan, one of an ever-proliferating raft of articles serving up bite-sized portions of the worst of digital culture (read: stuff young people like) with a hefty portion of wonderment, incredulity and the Emperor’s new clothes. A old media/new media hatefuck, if you will.
I don’t think I Can Haz Cheezburger was quite what internet visionary Vannevar Bush had in mind. Writing in 1945, Bush imagined tools for man ‘to access and command the inherited knowledge of all the ages’. On the present, the internet’s transparent democracy has rendered a portrait of the human psyche as giddy playground of neophiliac ephemera. Digital utopians huddle together at academic conferences and it falls to a bunch of tech-savvy US liberal arts postgrads to really take the internet for a spin through experiments in digital literature. The rest of us fiddle about trying to monetarise our blogs. Disappointing.
Anyway, when I returned home Joe’s day-old copy of the Guardian presented this wretched front-cover piece of navel-gazing and all bets were off. You win, Tanya Gold!