libraries | play | information | media | policy | culture


Rebellion Is Dead, Long Live Rebellion

Doing an Internet startup is like having a band—that's my basic theory. Everyone will have them because more than anything, it's fun.
Zaid Farooqui, founder & CEO of Cyquester Technologies,
as quoted in The Boston Globe
In a radio essay broadcast October 30 on NPR, Andrei Codrescu used the first sentence of Farooqui's quote as the launching point for a meditation on youthful rebellion in contemporary society. Codrescu notes that back in the day, poetry was the chosen vehicle for his and his friends' disdain for adults. He goes on to point out that later generations have turned to bands and stand-up comedy, respectively, as their forms of rebellion.

Today, he states, it's the Internet: "And it makes sense also that the Internet should follow both poetry and band because it envelops all media and returns rebellion to its source, pure information, unencumbered either by poetry's referentiality or comedy's complex messages."

But Codrescu sees a dark side to this latest manifestation of rebellion, because the Internet is not just a vehicle of pure information. It's not just free expression or an informed public sphere. It's also an engine of commerce, which makes it a tool of conformity.

And who wouldn't want to conform? At one end of the Net you've got Farooqui, who's 20, already at the helm of his own business, and likely to be a billionaire one day. At the other, you've got Internet-based shows that tell us the life of a blogger is cool and full of drama and meaning (thanks for the link, Vik). Both want your attention, because your attention makes them money.

Proving it's always good to have around an old guy who's survived an Eastern European communist dictatorship, Codrescu concludes: "We have come full circle: Poetry has become money. Rebellion is dead, but power has passed on to the children. It's up to the old to rebel now. Poetry is a pretty good tool."

No comments: