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DigiHum and the Hiveminds of the Web

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3 Comments

  1. Unknown User (bmm18)

    Here is something that you might want to consider, especially pertaining to your example regarding Reddit: do a site's users (i.e. the "collective consciousness") create the site's "bias" as the wikipeida article states, or is such a bias created by the site's administrators/founders?

    Your entry seems to convey this notion that people with like minded ideas on the internet form these collective groups; however, I think a good counter argument might be that there is no such thing as an online "collective consciousness" as every site is, in fact, created by one or a small group of "elite" individuals.  So, while Reddit may appear to be a website where individuals can create and share all of this "biased" content, I'll argue that Reddit is first and foremost a company, out to make money, and that the individuals posting on the site are not posing information that the "collective consciousness" finds interesting; they're simply buying into the information power dynamic that has been created for them by the site's executives.  

    In other words, the site's users are operating within a very limiting, confined environment--an environment that was created solely for the purpose of financial gain.

  2. Unknown User (cjs3)

    On the surface, Reddit is all the things Brendan just described.  What some may call "collective consciousness" others might say "mob mentality" when referring to what is upvoted and what is derisively downvoted.  If we were to explore the first few pages of Reddit, we would undoubtedly find links, comments, articles, pictures, gifs, and films that all share the same slanted and biased worldview that has become an unfortunate manifestation of aggregative media culture: the elitist love for cats and everything cats!

    In all seriousness though, Brendan makes some really good points.  Along with pictures of cats flying out of boxes, you're going to find a lot of posts that are ideologically one-sided (liberal/atheist) and not so keen about dissenting opinions((neo-) (paleo-) conservative or libertarian/christian).  Yet, when I think about Reddit's oppositional counterpart, 4Chan, the thought doesn't necessarily conjure up a balanced and thoughtful environment even though it doesn't make nearly as much of a profit, if any. On 4Chan, you can basically post and say anything without censure (name-calling, maybe).  On Reddit, as long as you argue with reason and understanding, your dissenting opinion will be respected.  Unfortunately, not too many people know how to do that on the internet.

    Reddit, like all aggregator sites for whatever reasons, are imperfect communities (in other words, normal communities).  Whether it's based on a hidden power structure, monetary motives, or a limited environment will be difficult to expand upon in a Storify article.  What's great about most of Reddit is that certain groups are more mediated than others and have specific goals that aren't tied to serious ideological bias (r/Volkswagon is a perfect example).  If you were to really focus on these groups (which make up an enormous part of Reddit) you could easily counter the "elitist" argument since these people would be talking about the same exact things in the exact same way on a boring forum.

  3. Unknown User (keh22)

    I'm a lot less familiar with this stuff than a lot of other people, but I think that when you talk about Reddit culture in this way, you dance around the idea of Memes, a really fascinating aspect of this collectivity to explore, and something which predates the internet by a surprising amount of time-- it was conceived of by Richard Dawkins as far back as the 1970s. Here again you can discuss the important as opposed to the irreverant existing side-by-side, a fascinating phenomenon, as "meme" can be used to identify cultural/ethnic stereotypes as well as the "Socially Awkward Penguin". It has even been described as a sort of evolutionary apparatus, almost biological in nature.