Content churn behaviours, list culture and microhaters

So it’s the last day of the first week of my big new job, and I’ve got insomnia – this time I think so that my brain can learn some big new thought structures.

My brain and I have an arrangement – it takes up all the capacity I can give it and I in turn make practical decisions about what to do about the inevitable glitches. Blogging’s one maintenance technique I use, here’s another I’ve used in the past.

Apparently there is a concept in the business to business world called “content churn“, however at 1250 hits on the big G I think I can claim it for my purposes. I’m using it to describe a behaviour as an internet audience member, although there’s a definite and intentional attention-grabbing strategy there that some sites use.

In essence, it’s when I’m in a mood – whether insomniac, or suffering a more existential malaise – to not focus on any one thing, but to passively click click click through one hundred things I care not for in the hopes I find one thing I do care about, caring being the word I’ve chosen most thoughtfully here.

Here’s another word:  microinterest. I’m stealing it from business again – but at only 463 hits I’m thinking we can take this one too. We have a word for microdisinterest: Meh. A possible world for microinterest could be: Mm.

So ninety-nine times out of one hundred that is my range of responses whilst churning. Why does it matter? Am I harming anyone? Meh came right to me, but I had to think about whether to use mm, uh-huh or a variety of other noncommital but vaguely positive responses.

Does joy work by the soul being moved a tiny bit? In quiet, numinous ways, yes but I don’t see happening here. Can our soul be withered tiny step by tiny step? Every time, one meh at a time.

Which leads me to our list page. “The 10 Most Disliked Videos on Youtube“, posted by MelisMashable, a vastly microactive microcontributor. I’m not really criticizing her for doing her job (and what a microgreat job it is!), by the way, just pointing out what her job is.

Her job is to take a statistic like that, and microframe it. In this case, she wrote a 32 word description linking three of our current strongest cultural hooks – youtube, Justin Bieber and Rebecca Black. The rest was the videos, with no further description beyond number of “dislikes’ received.

I clicked to it because I’ve been following the Rebecca Black story as a creative artist and music educator. I’ve been out of content churn for a while as my twitter follows, facebook friends and RSS feeds bring me more than enough of the good stuff, those big ‘awesomes’ that the soul needs to recover from the daily death of one thousand papercuts.

Number ten, at sixty-three thousand dislikes was “Evolution of Dance” – which was an awesome for me in its time. The guy isn’t a ballet dancer, but he hits his changes with precision and presents not just the moves but the mood of each dance he is recreating. There is audience cheering and if one can bring one’s self back to one’s first viewing, the effect is to feel a part of that crowd as motivational speaker Judson Laipply wows them with a truly wonderful way of ending any talk.

The only other adult on the list is the still-young Lady Gaga. Of the rest, the most disliked is from Rebecca Black with over one million dislikes, five are from Justin Bieber, and the youngest is poor little finger-biting Charlie.

What’s wrong with us people? What is wrong with us? Why can’t we leave Britney, and these children here, alone? Diogenes famously went looking for one honest man with a lamp. He should have waited and he would have found seventy-three thousand, five hundred people willing to take time to honestly say they did not like watching a baby biting a toddler’s finger.

Clearly “meh” is the driving function in content churn, and clearly given the success of sites such as buzzfeed,  the daily what and many, many more, we want as much “meh” as we can handle. Yes there is awesome in there – but it will always be easier to present quick, negative content. I’d like to point out cracked as perhaps being one much-needed counterexample, with even their most sarcastic and apparently banal list pages being jam packed with thought, historical detail and analysis.

So why do we, the audience, do it? Is it our microaddict’s path to a shallow rock bottom of pages with titles (I’m making up) such as “dogs whose butts look like their owner’s face”, “butts whose dogs look like their face’s owner” and of course the ever-popular “flimsy excuse to show pictures of breasts” from which we can then make the nightly climb to microrecovery only to fall off a very small wagon the next time we sit at the keyboard?

Either way, this blogger says:

Copyright Matt McManis 2010. Fair use applies.

Time for a satifying microsleep before I get ready for work.


About seanmurgatroyd
Library (Shared blog): Personal including infoculture, book reviews: Music: band page: @seanfish

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