A growing quantity of culture now is globally dispersed, user-generated, open-source, multiplatform, available on demand — jargon that, taken together, speaks of a gradual untethering from the particular slivers of earth and particular moments in time in which culture was traditionally imagined to sprout. More people than ever, perhaps, have the opportunity to be makers of culture, even if that means more to choose from and, consequently, fewer standards and blockbusters shared in common.
Culture as we’ve known it in the past, that calls on decades, if not centuries of knowledge, is no longer what it is today. With digital technology putting the power in anyone’s hands – anyone that has access to it – culture cannot just be made, it can be rewritten. May I point you in the direction of Wikipedia, for example, which isn’t culture per se, but everyone’s first reference point when they want to find out about history (among other things). In a similar vein, James wrote an interesting post earlier this year where he questions whether there can ever be an online masterpiece, given the flimsiness of the web:
Is the web itself hostile to the idea of art, to the idea of the masterpiece? We coo with satisfaction at the latest piece of whimsy on the web (one of Frank’s projects, Young Me / Now Me would qualify here), and move on to the next thing. Is it possible to imagine a work that took years to make, that makes a genuine attempt to understand what Kundera has called a ‘human possibility’, rather than something that is designed to entertain us for a few minutes?
Anand Giridharadas further says in this New York Times piece that we’re often synced with our tastes but not with that of others. I personally feel the truth of this more often than not – what does that mean for us as a generation, I wonder.