24 04/10

The hollowness of Open Media

Tags: | Categories: digital media

The director of French intelligence had no scruples about their morality. It was rather that he inevitably found the exercise depressing. Nothing, he had discovered long ago, revealed quite as completely the emptiness, the banality, the squalor of most lives as did that harvest of the electronic scanning of an unguarded soul [1, p.270].

The recent explosion of people-led media contents in the Internet has led some to claim that the availability to freely exchange videos, photos, news, and comments in on-line platforms is making us to enjoy a state-of-grace not seen before, a media democracy. Now, we, ‘users’, are part of the media as we feed and actively participate in it. I share, partly, this enthusiasm. However, I distrust the so-called freedom and openness that are being actively promoted. I called this phenomenon the open media (OM). It is ‘open’ because everyone with access can introduce material and it is ‘media’ because we ought not forget that the logic of mass media still is hidden behind the spot.

Mass media are highly industrial and sophisticated means of technological communication that allow a central and hierarchical organization, like a state or a company, to widespread a package of contents. Ideologies and desires are the most common of these massively distributed contents. Traditionally, mass media have been closed and the audience do nothing else but to consume. The ethic and aesthetics of mass media respond to the popular taste.

The open media are empty vessels filled with the content of its consumers. These media are opened for they openly offer a general structure and each user produce its own version. However, the open media do not belong to the users, rather they are used by the owners of the media as part of it. The users are programmed to constantly feed the media with pictures, opinions, and videos. These myriad of materials are as empty as the media itself. In the OM we do care about ourselves and about our desire to be for short instants on the spot. In the OM we spend (waste) our time in front of a digitally enhanced looking-glass. There is anything else to be seen there but selfish banality.

  1. Collins, Larry and Dominique Lapierre. The Fifth Horseman. New York, NY:Avon Book. 1980.