Ramadan approaches, and so I shall have time in the office with a computer and four weeks to fill.
I wish to write about American history during the nameless decade of 2000 to 2010. So I have roughed out some chapters on politics, the economics, and so on. I have discovered I know nothing of American culture.
What has happened in America in terms of culture in these years? Some things even I have noted:
Increase in Spanish-language influence, especially in AM radio.
Continued consolidation in media ownership.
More influence of cable TV, as in the Sopranos (Oddly, “cultural” cable TV networks constantly fail.)
The effects of the internet, whatever they might be.
Of course the end of the Golden Age of basketball, the steroid problem in baseball (and elsewhere).
One cultural effect is the emergence of Internet-based social networks, via MySpace, Facebook, etc.
Another is the widespread availability, on the Internet, of content for which in earlier times you would have had to go to the library, or which most people would have had no way to get at all – e.g., a clip from a TV show you missed yesterday, now available for viewing on YouTube.
The rise of the internet is critcal, of course, but I think the rise of the cell phone - with all of its different uses now (text msging, camera, internet connections, etc) probably affted even more people.
There was no culture during that period. I blame Bush!
Actually, I do. Iraq and its fallout at hime really have dominated things over here. I mean, Ashcroft was all set to turn the mighty resources of the Justice Dept on America’s greatest single most pressing problem … Internet porn … and then 9/11 happened.
I think Japanese pop culture has definitely made inroads in the US, and is expanding rapidly, but mostly it’s anime and manga. I think only a tiny fraction of Americans could even tell you what cosplay and loli-goth are.
That statement isn’t exactly true. “Cultural” cable tv networks (I assume you mean original versions of A&E, BRAVO, TLC, etc.) didn’t fail, the owners and operators simply weren’t making the kind of money they wanted. Channels like those were successful enough to keep running but that’s about it. The owners realized “Hey we can make more money running an episode “ER” than a documentary on Hitler.” or "We can get bettter numbers dangling a worthless designer prize in front of 12 hopefuls than showing that special on the cultural impact of “Native Son,”’
One of the most important effects of the Internet and widespread cable and satellite TV is the declining role of gatekeepers. Used to be, ALL TV and radio went through one of the Big Three Networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) and there was no way to get big-M Mass Media exposure without going through their process. Now, radio has consolidated but TV has splintered and the Internet is making serious inroads on both of them.
This has resulted in the creation of ‘hits’ most people have no knowledge of. For example, most people didn’t watch The Sopranos and most people aren’t buying the Billboard Top 20 CDs. Compare that to, say, people watching Johnny Carson and buying the Billboard Top 20 records.
It’s become easier and easier to immerse yourself in a subculture divorced from the Mass Media. Being geeky is going mainstream.
This may be just another way of saying what you just said, but what I was thinking was that the internet, and blogging in particular, has made it so that the line between “experts” and “everyone else” is getting very blurry. 20something bloggers with a no degree in journalism are quoted and sourced like actual trained journalists, and people are seemingly happy to get their news, medical, legal and technical advice, as well as encyclopediac information, from sources which would have been laughably suspect 15 years ago. And the thing is - it seems to be working! Wikipedia is no less accurate than Encyclopedia Brittanica!
I think this democratization of information authority (that is, we the people decide who we want our information from) has also led to a shift in how the actual trained people have to do their jobs. The (infuriating, to me) tendency of “reporters” to speculate on the news instead of, y’know, reporting it, seems as if it might be an attempt to do what a blogger does - offer “analysis” and outright guesses instead of just the facts, ma’am.
We also have this idea now that it’s not only difficult to present an unbiased report of events, but that it’s impossible, and the only just and fair thing to do is to declare your biases so that the reader (or viewer) can intentionally seek out other also biased stories and then they themselves choose what the truth is. It’s a totally different mindset than what I was taught in college, and it’s a little weird. But I think it’s also brought about because of this awareness that everyone has their story and their spin on events - something that didn’t concern us too much when there were only three outlets for any news story.
And then, totally unrelated (I think): Viral marketing. Email and YouTube have facilitated a new form of advertising, sort of a meta-advertising. We’ve become so cynical about advertising on the one hand, and then we send each other “banned” and “controversial” or “edgy” ads that amuse us - so in effect we ourselves become the advertisers that we claim we despise! Even here on the SDMB, we have a bimonthly (or so) thread on “Ads we hate” which, perversely, exposes me to dozens of ads I’d never have seen otherwise!