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February 1, 2012
If I Can't Share, I Can't Dance
posted an interesting piece to his Searchblog this week describing a surprising personal experience and its relationship to sharing and culture. Battelle has had a hand in founding WIRED, Web 2.0 (the conference), and The Industry Standard, among other things. He's seen more than a few crowds in his day and has a good feel for them. The Searchblog focuses on search, but also on the intersection of media and culture. So it's a little bit of a surprise to find him writing there about his experiences at a Wilco concert, titled "What Happens When Sharing is Turned Off? People Don't Dance."
As he tells the story, he found it incredible that people at the show were mostly not dancing. He says "It was as if the crowd had been admonished to not be too … expressive." In fact, no one had told the crowd not to be expressive, but the band had gotten the venue to enforce a strict "no smartphones" policy. Deprived of the ability to photograph, tweet, capture, and share the experience, the crowd largely shut down.
Battelle muses on the phenomenon, and how these devices have changed our experiences in the past decade or so. Certainly people moved to bands before there we were mobile phones and nobody brings a mobile to a mosh pit. So perhaps Battelle is putting too much emphasis on the device and its influence on social culture. Or maybe not - maybe a rule like "thou shalt not share" is interpreted - even subconsciously - as "thou shalt not experience fully". Concert bootlegs have existed probably as long as people were capable of carrying recording devices and while some people may be perfectly happy in the moment between themselves and the performer maybe that's an isolated experience. Maybe the majority experience is to become fully immersed and to want to share that joy with friends, both present and remote.
Tape trading, anyone?
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