It’s definitely not television, is it?
In fact, although I watch TV less and less, whenever I do, I now get this strange, vacuous, helpless sensation, from the knowledge that despite all my best reflexes, I cannot change or interact with what is happening in front of me.
I can’t tell the producers what I think of their programme, I can’t personalise news/information/documentaries to the items I want to hear about. I can’t return to the weather for my region if I’ve missed it… and the channel has no idea what I really want to see; they’re just happy to dilute it to the lowest common denominator among their target audience…
And I can’t submit my own material to them even where the channel is close to my issues of interest.
With WebTV, however, I can submit content to a number of Web video channels dedicated to my specific audience, interact with viewers, change, improve and adapt my content, on my own channel, on various hosts. (My own example: http://www.metacafe.com/channels/VoxAppeal/)
The question remains though, with social network hosting services exploding in such numbers that it’s getting harder & harder to keep up: Are they losing the focal impact that they have had until now?
Before they’ve even mastered the means of reaching across cultural boundaries?
Several Buzz sites are cross-linked – WordPress to Twitter, Twitter to Facebook and Facebook to YouTube, etc., but as they cross-link and multiply (see the “Share” list below), the walls dividing each language group from the next are as high as ever. If not higher still, as the impression of comprehensive reach to anything that matters is greater than ever, so you just don’t know what you’re missing on the other side of that wall. In fact, we no longer even notice the wall because we think that the whole world is speaking in our own language.
I have noticed that some subjects are better covered in specific language communities than in others. English is of course the most widespread, but still only accounts for about half of all web content, including content created by 2nd-language English writers. But for example, I have found a huge amount of information on Web programming on French sites and forums, and the Japanese are way ahead of the rest in terms of digital subtitling techniques, software and references (drawing from a rich Manga culture, no doubt). I can’t begin to list what I am missing in languages I don’t understand, let alone emphasise the importance of simply understanding the cultural particularities of each community.
“I hate America” – How others see us?
Also extremely useful would be to know, for example, how Iranians, Chinese or Latvians report their news and views, in contrast to how the English contributions to Twitter, WordPress and the BBC report them.
Maybe that final frontier of networking, the language barrier, could be crossed with the creation of a global translingual social network (the fact that “translingual” just showed up underlined in red tells me it really is a more foreign concept than I had imagined!)?
Or maybe what we need is an optional tweak at the root of Google (or any other search engine) allowing the search of translations of websites into the searcher’s language, before displaying the list?
Or maybe both would be required before either could work properly?
In the interim, it feels like we are sinking into that TV-sofa passivity again, where we’re happy with what we’ve got, because it’s a bit better than what we had before. At least until, eventually, frustration sets in again.
Enfin, ça viendra, un jour.
ﺎﺒﻳﺮﻗ ءﺎﻘﻠﻟا ﻰﻟا