About “The Cute Cat Theory Talk At Etech” by Ethan Zuckerman

The impact of user-generated -content produced for entertainment is a lot bigger than we might assume.
The term web 2.0 describes the phenomenon of the internet not being a publishing space only for web authoring professionals but for everyday consumers on given platforms that make it easy to participate. In recent years this term in particular opened discourses about its range of opportunities in every possible direction. This relatively new mass medium is often enough considered to be a challenge for the political establishment.
Governmental organizations and also financial companies struggle with the accelerated flow of information – that are possibly seen by user public and accordingly this possibility cause major changes in their well-rehearsed structures. This fear of these organizations, including governments’ is reasonable and yet gave rise to the attempts of the prevention of movements that are largely organized through the uses of web 2.0 in several countries. This has also been discussed widely in global society.

Ethan Zuckerman, an American internet activist, posted his opinion about the relationship between the groups of Internet users and Internet activists. On the one hand those activists  employ the potentials of web 2.0 for their political purposes, the larger Internet user community employ it for enjoyment on the other.

The first group is the one that is alarming for governments and PR-specialists for obvious reasons, while the second group is often underestimated.
Zuckerman states that a functioning web 2.0 platform cannot be successful without some certain internet-typical features like porn or cute animals. These features are usually known to be completely debilitating for serious controversies. Still they attract the masses in the internet and manage to put them together. The shared interest in the shown material makes people from all over the world discuss vividly which makes frequently visited web-2.0-websites an ideal place for internet activists with more serious intentions.
In the past numerous websites have been blocked or censored by states because they presumed they would stop a threatening social movement by terminating the channel of communication. This strategy works in the case that the activists get limited in the ways of expressing themselves.
If the group of users that get bothered by this censorship is bigger than the group of activists, it is much likely that this action creates a big awareness to the issues that were meant to be brushed under the carpet. As it turns out social entertainment sites are less likely to be blocked by submissive governments than sites that are solely built for activism.

The block or limitation of digital amusement by general censorship causes a wider awareness of the censorship itself on the part of users, rather than the limitation on digital activism.

Given that the blog entry is dated in 2008 the internet nowadays has developed a lot towards an increasingly fugacious culture of memes, rage comics and short films. The public awareness of the younger generations has risen with a dynamic that cannot be stopped without shutting down the internet itself. This will not only improve the chances of social movements but also bring  new challenges for the up-to-dateness that has to be given constantly to be relevant in the mind of consuming users.

by Justin


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