group b: reload response

What exactly does mobility on the web mean? If one imagines web mobility as advanced search engines, a problem arises; one is working within a “contained database” as McPherson put it “which increasingly privilege commercial sites.” [206] The concern with the commercialized format of web browsing we are familiar with today is not only that it is organized and distributed in a manner based around algorithms based in advertising, but also that it gives the illusion of user-friendliness and agency where there is none. Is it worse then to note that there are not any necessarily sinister motivations behind this? I mean overtly sinister. The concept behind user-friendliness is based far more on consumer demands than those of the web designer. Company men like the one who McPherson describes as thinking of being able to interactively buy Jennifer Aniston’s sweater from an episode of Friends as “empowering” are indeed trying to work with the medium they are given in creative ways. If we lived in a vacuum, that idea in and of itself is intriguing. But as it is, whether these companies like it or not, the philosophical implications behind these arrangements are sinister indeed.

One question that came up for me was, how necessary is a corporate and commercial layout of the web in the age of information overload? Because for me when I imagine how to navigate the web in this time where there are more sites than grains of sand I do not know how that would work without there being certain tunnels carved out by people in the know. A response, of course, would be that web and coding literacy ought to increase to counteract this, so that anyone looking for just the right gardening blog can find the one they need without fear of manipulation of misdirection. But I also wonder how accessible such literacy would be when there are so many people who are lucky enough just to have a smart phone in the first place. And are such coding community fantasies applicable now that so many people are part of the web? The final sinister implication, also, is that when you give someone something like Facebook, which is not only easy to use but used exclusively by all their friends, it is hard to convince them to learn coding and design their own web platform instead in the name of online liberty, especially when they have a job and possibly a family. That isn’t an argument against the idea, of course, but its a point that certainly effects the way we ought to think about this problem.

The final thing that I considered while reading McPherson’s text is that if we have entities like TV which manage to exist a double life, one that is corporate and one that is independent and, to a degree, ‘avant garde’ (which here for all intents and purposes simply means non-commercial in every sense) then there ought to be a way for the web to do the same. A system so widely accessible and coveted will have a hard time avoiding corporate interests all together, but is it possible to create a web that is entirely separate from the web we all use today? As if our mainstream web was like the planet earth, could we leave and colonize a new and completely separate web-planet? One that was still accessible but not necessarily as ripe for monetization as the other? It is hard to say. If something like that were to exist and become populated enough it would be hard to avoid capitalization. But then we’ve really got to start talking about the problem of capitalism in and of itself. So where to start?

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