Positive Cynicism – But if the Internet is over, how am I writing this?

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, pop music legend Prince declared the Internet dead.

Discussing his new album 20TEN — released exclusively as a giveaway with the British newspaper — Prince opined: “The Internet is completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it, and then they get angry when they can’t get it.”

Of course, Prince has had a long-running battle with the Internet. Remember when he tried to sue YouTube, eBay and the Pirate Bay for using his music? Well, he hates the Internet so much that now he even refuses to work with legal outlets like iTunes and eMusic. He’s even shut down his official site, and will probably one day take the step of suing people for even daring to listen to his music. It’s like he’s fighting technological progress — and the new methods of commercial distribution that come with it — for the express purpose of making himself completely musically irrelevant.

“The Internet’s like MTV,” he told the Mirror. “At one time, MTV was hip, and suddenly it became outdated.”

So, Prince’s quest to find something newer and hipper has led him away from the web, and into the dying medium of printed news? Making stupid decisions — and making them loudly — is a great way to get some momentary publicity. I’m not sure what the long term gain is, but hey, this is Prince: crazy is what he’s been selling for 30 years. And predicting the death of the Internet is hardly anything new.

What has been dying, according to The Economist are blogs. And that, as a blogger, is something I can see evidence of.

I’ve been blogging on Blogger for nearly six years now, and it came as no surprise to me when a study quoted in The Economist found a “vast field of dead blogs,” not updated in a year, in Indonesia. The article doesn’t mention it, but there are a lot of dead blogs here in America, too. Many of the people I’ve met through blogging seem to have disappeared, their blogs no longer updated. Blogger meet-ups seem to be a thing of the past, and traffic has really slowed down while, according to The Economist, Facebook and Twitter continue to grow.

So, really, the desire to communicate and post your thoughts online hasn’t died, it’s just moved on to other platforms. I remember when everyone was on MySpace, which seems like a dinosaur now. Facebook is a decent way to stay abreast of people you know or reconnect with people you knew and share updates on your life; I finally gave in and got a Facebook page recently because it’s apparently the only method by which my family keeps in touch anymore. As you may remember, I got onto Twitter last year, but I just haven’t been interested enough to stay on it. There was nothing much to do on it other than try to find ways to be pithy in less than 140 characters, or to get judged for not being very pithy, and it just didn’t seem like a decent pastime.

So what is the platform for social blogging? Currently, my choice is Tumblr. I’ve been on Tumblr for over a year now, and I enjoy it. It’s fluid and flexible, and I think so far it’s managed to avoid the trappings Facebook fell prey to: they want to fit everything into a neat little box and have everyone’s page look the same. The people I meet on Tumblr are all interesting and are doing their own thing, and can use it for whatever they want. Some post updates about themselves or little quotes or quick jokes, ala Twitter, while others use it as a blog. I’ve used it to meet new people, share my projects, blog my thoughts, be creative, post pictures of myself or things I like and even share music (including Prince’s).

Tumblr is whatever I want to use it as; Facebook is whatever they allow you to do with it. (And besides, Facebook is becoming an evil empire of corporate information-thievery; witness Mark Zuckerberg’s comment calling Facebook users “dumbfucks” for trusting him with their personal data.)

Tumblr is probably what Internet communities will look like in the future: an amalgam of all the social networks that went before, combining creativity and theme, design and chat, blog and video, music and special interests. And that’s what makes Tumblr work for me overall: it’s a community. It’s a neighborhood. It makes sense to you because it can become whatever you need or want it to.

Unfortunately, it’s also a massive time thief. But one Internet problem at a time …

So I have to disagree with Prince’s attention-getting but ultimately non-prophetic attempt to declare the Internet finished.

And if you see Prince, tell him the Internet thinks he’s completely over.

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com.

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