It used to be that people would wander in the dusty stacks of the library or old bookstores in search for arcane lore. More recently, it’s been indie artists who seed obscure references into their music, and even more recently, independent films or TV series such as Twin Peaks. The most difficult thing has always been that it takes a certain amount of commercial success to get your work seen by a large number of people. Writers have always struggled to find publishers, musicians have always wrestled with how to get a recording contract without sacrificing artistic integrity, and TV shows have had much the same problem. The problem has gotten successively worse as the cost of producing a single work has gone up from print to film. In all media, pulp has been the predominant output, be it trashy romance novels, boy bands, game/reality shows and soap operas. But now there’s a new game in town.
For less than it costs a publishing company to run a small pressing of books, anyone can share lessons learned from life experiences. Any kind of arcane or abstruse discovery now has an unlimited production run, in almost any language, too, thanks to text translation tools such as Babelfish(itself an arcane reference to THE answer) or Google’s Language Tools. I’m talking mostly about blogs.
Here’s my bit of arcane lore: This is why we as a nation have become increasingly shallow through the last half of this decade. We’re predominantly exposed to more and more shallow media just due to the economics of the situation. Information we receive about “how life is” comes from more shallow sources. There’s been a resurgence of the nerd, a person deep in at least some respects, precisely due to the fact that blogging about “how life is” isn’t subject to nearly as strong of economic forces. (This revival of the nerd started before blogging became a phenomenon, but it does closely parallel the development of computing.) Instead of “Everyone Loves Raymond” for everyone, there’s millions of different ways people can see other people getting through life, making mistakes and learning from them. I think this is so big, it has the potential to restore my faith in the human race.
Of course, the primary output of internet media is still pulp, too.