Limitations of the Web medium.greenspun.com : LUSENET : Finding Time : One Thread
How do you address the fact that the potential audience for this work is greatly limited by social and economic forces due to the nature of the medium?
-- Finding Time (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 27, 1999
As Scott says below, the Internet is rapidly expanding to become a mass medium, and this will continue to grow as network technologies emerge. In its infancy television was certainly an "elite" medium, and continues to be so in terms of access to the means of its production. In this respect the Internet is much more of a mass medium in that the level of skills and investment needed to create Web content, for example, are comparitively low.
The Internet industry is currently undergoing a rapid consolidation as companies are swallowed whole by emerging techno-conglomerates. Such activities are of concern not only in that they eliminate competition and thus consumer choice, but also in that they replicate traditional models of media which lock out alternative voices and perspectives from public discourse. Such forces are mirrored by ongoing attempts at regulating Internet content by conservative legislators here in the United States which aim to limit ideological diversity. In this light, projects such as the Drone are essential because they challenge the "self-evident" models of what the Internet might be, and establish a basis for ongoing explorations that represent a different value structure. We must be a part of the Internet's future, and not leave the decisions to the lawmakers and corporate moguls.
A potential solution to the current dilemma, however, lies in the availability of such performances to a viewing public in accessible spaces. Part of the original proposal for this project, therefore, targets the location of a network of public access points around the world that agree to act as a "receptor" for the piece. As the piece matures we hope to see such a network of physical sites emerge, and grow to become an alternative set of cultural spaces that are involved in many such pieces over time. Cybercafes in particular hold much promise in this area, and there are signs that such events are already occurring, while mostly around more traditional events such as poetry readings and musical performances. I would hope that such businesses would become interested in Internet- based art precisely because it highlights the importance of the space as an access point to a currently scarce medium. If there are cybercafe owners interested in these ideas, please contact me. For further information please see the "Join" page of the main "Finding Time" site.
-- Jesse Gilbert (email@example.com), February 28, 1999.
It is true that at present, web audience is limited to a narrow band of society primarily composed of white men between the ages of 18 - 40. However, this is changing rapidly. Without sounding like a marketing fanatic, the potential growth of web users, considering the forthcoming broad-band and cable technologies, the merging of television and Internet capabilities, etc., is vast. At some point, in the not too distant future, it may be a number just slightly shy of those households with either televisions or telephones, which, when considering the average reach of a new music event, is far more accessible than anything even the San Francisco Mime Troupe has accomplished. This particular event absolutely will not have an ideal reach or level of accessibility. People will need good computers and web savvy to get the full experience of the piece. But this is another place where we are working hard in the present while keeping an eye focused on the future. However, it is not enough to simply say this.
There are several ways in which we would like to expand the audience even for this piece from the single user at home or work with their high end PC. I believe Jesse will talk about the Cyber Cafis and public viewing locations for the piece. We have also discussed the possibility of simultaneous low powered radio broadcasts. Apparently, the FCC is considering de-regulating very low power broadcasting, thus legalizing what has come to be known as Pirate Radio. There is an international community of radio pirates broadcasting to their local communities. We hope to incorporate any interested broadcasters in this performance as another means of expanding the listening audience. If you have any information about the de-regulation of low frequency radio, or are interested in getting involved in organizing a broadcast (or broadcasts) contact me.
-- Scott Rosenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 28, 1999.