The MySpacing of Flickr, Or: Revenge of the Spawn of Web 0.0, The Sucker Punch

For those of you not particularly quick on the uptake, or who have no idea who I am, writer Violet Blue & I are close friends & have been for some time. She has an ongoing dispute with Flickr, which keeps censoring photos like the ones in this post (which I have conveniently hotlinked from Flickr), presumably for their sexual content, despite the fact that any idiot can see they show nothing that could be considered sexually explicit.

I suspect that some attention is given Violet’s Flickr stream, by Flickr, because her name is associated with the world of porn — she watches porn, she writes about porn, and therefore her artful erotic photos of implied nudity must be porn. Relying on Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of obscenity (“I know it when I see it”) works even better for Flickr than for the Supreme Court, because Flickr, like any corporation, owes it users nothing under the First Amendment. Its parent company, Yahoo, eliminated all user-generated chatrooms from Yahoo Chat because of objectionable content in user-generated rooms — not because of legal action or company morals, but because an investigation by a Houston TV station caused an advertiser panic. Yahoo’s chatroom closures were the 1890 Census of Web 1.0, the death-wail of a world gone mad, or at least as mad as human nature.

Clearly Web 2.0 isn’t going to let things go that far, and if it has to put the kibbosh on Violet’s panties and any other panties out there that might be on their way down… well, there’s no First Amendment in private industry.

Yahoo, like so many so-called Web 2.0 companies, seems unable to decide if it wants to be a consumer-based service that sees to the needs of its users and their creative communities, or something soft and gooey with no sharp edges, seams or pointy bits that allows its corporate overlords to avoid ever going out on a limb, mostly because it permits them to be so wishy-washy that they begin to resemble a lukewarm bowl of clam chowder without any clams… just the chowder, thank you, if no one objects that is?

Having worked quite extensively in corporate America, I have seen this phenomenon, and frankly I wish I could be surprised or outraged when I see for-profit companies showing neither brains nor balls, but only a desperate stinking terror that someone will compromise their fourth-quarter profitability or start a letter-writing campaign to Save the Children From Violet Blue’s Pantied Ass or Make The Slut Pull Up Her Pants! These waking nightmares are not subject to the Bill of Rights.

I am not a Web 2.0 Hater, I just hate everything, and Web 2.0, let’s be frank, is asking for it. With its promise of everything for free, everything else for cheap, Web 2.0 allows you, the user, Time’s Man of the Year, to provide corporate America with everything it needs to suck the eyeballs out you, the user, Time’s Man of the Year. It doesn’t cost you anything, AND it doesn’t cost you anything. Information is free to go from you to you, and these giant virtual corporations unexist solely for the purpose of bringing information from you to yourself, for free. What’s best of all, the zillions of dollars generated by this non-transaction goes not to corporate fat cats like Archie Bunker and Boss Hogg, but to inventive thirty-two-year-olds named Piper and Spike who ride their bikes to work and have video games in the company lounge. Finally, true capitalism has been achieved: it’s a “Wild West” out there, with information free, in a Gibsonian sense, except for porn, which no one wants anyway, because porn is bad and sex is dirty and why would you want it anyway, why don’t you just post some more pictures of your guinea pigs?

The odd thing about the myth of Web 2.0 is that it’s so agonizingly similar to the myth of Web 1.0, for those of us who lived through the Dot-Bomb: “There’s shitloads of money just around the corner. Here’s the pie chart, the line graph, the bar graph; this over here on the left is now, this on the right is 3Q-2002, and up here in the corner is you jet-skiing in the Bahamas when your shares vest in early ’03.”

Problem is, no one seems to be selling entrepreneurship now; rather, they’re selling community, democracy, the liberation of information; they’re selling creativity, as long as your creative impulses don’t cause nipple erection. What they’re selling is everything for free, everything else for cheap, this other stuff for the (amazingly moderate!) price of home internet access and computer equipment and camera equipment and a phone and wireless service and an iPhone and tech support and hey, your privacy is guaranteed.

Violet suggested that someone should write an article called “The MySpacing of Flickr,” but to hold up MySpace as a model for colossal blandness ignores what I consider to be the much larger problem of MySpace being an unusable piece of shit that appears to be popular, as far as I can tell, because every human being on the planet is smoking crack. Far from being bland, using MySpace is always a fascinating adventure, much like the adventure my girlfriend Bridgitte is currently having with Gmail, which I depend upon for my personal email, and over which I do an enormous amount of business. Bridgitte’s Gmail account stopped working, and guess what? Gmail’s tech support is shockingly unresponsive, and calling Google in Mountain View gets you a recording: “Google does not offer live tech support.”

These are the companies that now hold your creativity in the palm of their hand, and bring you, mostly for free, mostly, the gift of absolute creative freedom, the ability to live your dreams, as long as your dreams don’t cause nipple erection.

Photos: Violet Blue by Violet Blue, from her Flickr Stream. Some rights reserved.


5 Responses to “The MySpacing of Flickr, Or: Revenge of the Spawn of Web 0.0, The Sucker Punch”

  1. The MySpacing of Flickr, Or: Revenge of the Spawn of Web 0.0, The Sucker Punch at Dogmatic Says:

    […] The MySpacing of Flickr, Or: Revenge of the Spawn of Web 0.0, The Sucker Punch. […]

  2. ell Says:

    Nice post Thomas.

    I wrote a little post about this a few weeks back and one of my regular visitors left a comment that cheered me out of my Flickr induced downer — I thought you ight enjoy its sentiment 🙂

    “Fuck Flickr and it’s censorship. No need to get your knickers in a knot. The history of censorship is a history of failure, a history of flacid old farts and their brownshirt enforcers protecting the rest of us from a glimpse of stockings, tits in the movies, and four-letter words in books and television. The tide of history will wash over this as well, leaving the corporate internet a tit-free tidal pool, teeming with small people and their small minds, and their shriveled sexuality. ”

    Tit free tidal pool — nice huh?

  3. Rich Ghost Wolf Says:

    You can never expect a corporation to see to your needs.

    One other thing is, never attribute to deliberate malice or malign intent, that which can be attributed to gross incompetence or sheer stupidity.

    If you look at how Yahoo (and Google, and MySpace, and all the rest) work, you start to see that it’s not necessarily screwing with people deliberately…it’s about “enforcing policy”. Read: “maintaining the lowest common denominator”.

    I became a senior web programmer because, quite frankly, I thought all the porn sites I was visiting sucked ass. Badly.

    I became a system admin because nobody would host my content.

    Along the way, I learned that, in fact, if I really wanted to be heard, I would have to put in a pile of work to make that happen.

    Too many people today want to just sit back and “let someone else take care of it”. Well guess what…learn to push your own pixels…from Photoshop to browser. Be your own end-to-end vendor. That lesson works in real life, too.

    No, really…for the last time…fuck.The.System. Or better yet, don’t fuck the system. It’s a bad lay anyway. Just ignore it; it’s not worthy of your time anyway.

    Be your own System.

  4. Lithium Picnic « Skid Roche Says:

    […] my half-assed opinion on Web 2.o? Oh, did I mention that the Wikipedia Entry on Suicide Girls mentions: In 2005, a number of the […]

  5. Web 2.0 — Now With Faster Implosion! | Blowfish Blog Says:

    […] wants to, and Yahoo’s Flickr, which believes that everybody’s pictures are beautiful, as long as they don’t cause nipple erection. Less famously, Web 2.0 includes such collaborative info-digitization projects as Project […]

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