The gross flattener

Has the digital channel degenerated from an elite medium to a mere platform for cat videos?? And what is the effect of the omnipresence of the opinion bubble around content? catastrophic, according to Thomas Hettche

The flattening of content is quickly observed when it comes to digital media. And with that, the critic finds himself in good company with those who see the claim increasingly dwindling in other media as well. Der gute alte Gatekeeper kann sich zunehmend kein Gehor mehr verschaffen, um das Niveau der Inhalte im Netz auf einem Mindeststandard zu halten. Cat videos and half-baked stuff populate the servers. The content that has earned the label High Quality disappears behind the paywall.

So easy to argue and lament.

The flattening of the Internet, as far as it can be defined and located, has a completely different connotation, if it is understood as the democratization of former elitist media access. Flat hierarchies now allow everything unfiltered and make it possible for every recipient to become a broadcaster, too. This sounds not coincidentally like the radio theory of Bertolt Brecht.

Thus the radio receivers should already be led away from the pure distribution apparatus. Towards a program structure co-determined by all, which should serve all. In 1970, Hans Magnus Enzensberger described how content should behave away from the specialists in his essay Building blocks for a theory of media (in: Kursbuch 20) briefly outlined and immediately put into perspective again. It is not possible to do without specialists; a nation of Super 8 filmmakers has not created a new Hollywood.

A digital medium that has now gone into a breadth in expansion and access never seen before allows for individual peaks in niches. However, content levels off to a broad standard so that it can be perceived. Just as pop shows itself to be a flattening of a contemporary musical current, content is leveling out to meet broad needs and is no longer available only to an elite fringe group. A traditional understanding of culture and the media is changing, and is probably also throwing overboard categories that have been expressed in high and popular culture as in the notion of Flattening in itself.

What has really emerged as a result of social media, but far before that on the worldwide web, can be described in terms of content as a Pointer describe. More and more, especially in the timelines of Twitter and Facebook, the original content is leveling out into a I just read-Linkkultur. The reference becomes the important statement, and it we, "to my" Opinion coupled. The mab of opinions has grown a lot and begins to enrich the media everyday life with a noise that has not been there before.

Distrust of the voice from the depths of the net

Thomas Hettche, who in his essay collection Totenberg is currently dealing with the question of the reader’s freedom with and in a work, laments the increasingly hysterical tone of public debates, which is now conducted by everyone in digital comments. It has become difficult to be a reader in a freedom of opinion, when the fear of the shitstorm can influence one’s articulation of that opinion.

Hettche goes so far as to distrust these voices substantially, since they are neither democratically legitimized, nor is it clear from where their primarily negatively dynamic discourses are justified. The dream of Brecht is over, and social media are on their way back to the political hype of the 1920s, which had little desire for real discourse. The comments lacked an effect of self-impression. The shitstorm has not developed a process of calming itself down. The return of the barricade and the raised fist is directly due to the social media channels, which are generated in an original democratic way, but are unclear in the purpose and origin of their participants. Moreover, they were only economically in the pockets of very few people.

While the net today makes it easy to go into depth very quickly in any thematic region, and a relevance of e-art and u-art, if one still wants to use these terms at all, exists side by side, it is increasingly difficult to find this depth, because Google as a flattener, is not interested in a special compilation but in the medial center for many. Only clickquantity is relevant for Google, maybe that’s why we have to think about a kind of qualitative register again, like the one Yahoo started almost twenty years ago on the net.

The digital

Three media workers, Michael A. Konitzer, Anatol Locker and Harald Taglinger, who have been in digital channels since the late 1980s, have lived and accompanied the digital transition. They talk in a podcast once a month about the current hotspots and how, in an evolving digital world, the constant human being behaves with more complex media possibilities. They do not do it alone. They invite guests. You chat with him/her/it about his/her/its view of the topic. All episodes are also available as podcast via iTunes