I just discovered Pandora Radio this summer. It’s been a great opportunity to explore the largely unknown realm of popular music with my limited experience. But I noticed that I get bored quickly and keep switching stations. It’s true that we get a simulated shared-music experience without actually getting to speak into each other’s lives in any really meaningful and life-shaping way. Even if we’re just talking about music. The authors write: “In real communities, whether in physical space or cyberspace, members share affinities, interests, and needs; this commonality is recognized and mediated by the members themselves” (269). I was just talking to my co-worker the other day about Wikipedia, how it is actually a very reliable source of information and has only a slight increase in error over edited encyclopedias (4 errors to their 3). It was never expected that people would share reliable information and volunteer their time for editing and upkeep for something open-source like the Wikipedia project, but it’s happening. Where did our faith in people go? Why turn to automated servers when a world of real people are (literally, these days) at our fingertips, just aching to connect and share?

I found this article really interesting in light of a class I took in the Spring with Barry Taylor on pop music. We talked about some of these same issues, especially regarding the changing experience of music with the entrance of technology and the ability to buy music to listen to over and over whenever you wanted to under any conditions. I like that we can trace fandom (at least in music) further back than merely the entrance of the internet or the TV. That tells us it’s not just a technology-driven phenomenon (though it is certainly technology-enabled). The negative in the article was the tracing of the commodification of art and performance (and people, and personalities, and public personas). We sell everything these days, even (and perhaps especially, or rather essentially?) ourselves. Which means on some level we buy each other. So identity value decreases, self-image decreases, oh my. What a dark path I’ve started down.