The Internet Bohemia

A map of Bohemia (and Moravia)

A map of Bohemia (and Moravia)

When realizing that part of my homework load this weekend was a reading on bohemia’s in cities (Wicker Park Chicago or Williamsburg NYC) I questioned the enduring need for these sites in the shadow of the accessibility of the internet. Yes these places will be nice to have for the sake of your day-to-day life added with the fact of a heavily diverse environment. This same diversity is important as it “is taken to be a central principle of urban authenticity, and the definition of diversity typically proffered by local artists gives special value to the illicit and the bizarre.” (90) But if we can access anything and everything from the internet, why would we need young artists to move to these locals? We can have just as much weird and bizarre from the web anywhere in the world (have you seen 4Chan? (note: do not go to 4Chan)).

4chan

For the love of god don’t go! Don’t go! Don’t- (sigh) you went, didn’t you?

So one fine Saturday afternoon, after a healthy conversation of religion, racial identity and nipple piercings, I decided it was time to do my daily dose of work as subscribed to me. As I drifted through the pages and pages of text, trying my darnedest to pay attention, I started thinking of video games…

And then I started to think of video game videos on Youtube…

And the personalities I watched on Youtube…

Huh, I watch a lot of white people on Youtube…

How many people of color do I watch on Youtube?

At this I found a concerning answer.

1

I only watch one person who is of color on Youtube. I began to think to myself ‘well certainly this is just a problem with me isn’t it?’ Feeling interested and concerned, I asked my other two study buddies if they could name any Youtubers of color that they watch on a frequent basis.

YouTube-logo-full_color

Of my two buddies (both women, one white and one Asian), we found out that between them they only watched 2 people of color on Youtube. More so we found that we generally watch the same kind of content. I watch let’s plays (videos where you watch people play video games with commentary, either for review or entertainment) and educational videos (where you learn new things, either facts or ideas), one of my friends watches mainly DIY’s (Do It Yourself instructional videos, learn how to do new things) and the last friend watches mainly comedies (you know, where you laugh at stuff). It seemed that the problem was one that stemmed not just from the lack of racial diversity, but also from cultural diversity as most if not all of the people we watch are American. On top of this we didn’t have a wide span of content we enjoyed, usually we stayed with whatever we knew. Granted Youtube will suggest content for you to watch based on your previous views so it makes sense that you are exposed to mainly the same content through their systems, but why don’t we the users ever set out to find different content?

We seem to be sedated into what we like and thus, don’t explore. Why is this? Isn’t the internet suppose to be a center for diversity on the web itself? Isn’t it suppose to be the ultimate bohemia? And why am I asking so many questions?

What seems to be missing from the Internet in all its infinite amount of freedom, is a little bit of current. I’m not saying that we regulate the Internet, but maybe we need to figure out a new culture within the Internet. One where we do not subscribe simply to our comforts but also to our curiosity.

The Internet can be considered a bohemia in itself but it only thrives based on our user input. Without wanting to explore the web for the weird and bizarre, we homogenize our experience and as a result have impact on the larger experience of the web by contributing to a homogenized culture of settling into the same websites rather than trying to find something new.

We get put down certain avenues of the same content over and over again that the discomfort of searching out new areas of thought and content becomes daunting or unappealing enough to persuade us to stay in the same routines that we always have had.

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There are websites that explore this idea like Stumbleupon or the random button at the bottom of the frontpage of the Reddit. There are reddit-logo-01-674x5011probably others but these are the two I know of. In effect, if we are able to properly explore the internet, we no longer have it as just a resource for our own tastes but also as an accessible Bohemia for anyone. All we have to ask is every so often is why don’t we go for a walk and try and find some new content?

And as Richard Lloyd makes the point in his book NeoBohemia of by quoting Howard Becker “All artistic work, like all human activity, involves the joint activity of a number, often a large number , of people. Through cooperation, the art work that we eventually see or hear comes to be and continues to be” (166)

In order for the internet to function like the Bohemia it can and should be, we as a collective need to explore it and utilize it’s function us not just a tool to pander to our own wants, but to be explored and discovered as a whole, to be used to expand ourselves and as a result, encourage others to explore and utilize this untethered Bohemia.

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Comments

  1. Emily Bergmann says:

    can you speak on some of the categories of YouTube videos that you and your friends watch? couldn’t gather a lot from brief (jargon?) category names. sate the curious! totally not well-versed in the vlogosphere.

  2. Of course! I’ll make a quick edit to that section.

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