Notice that Google is missing, since they cut their own social answer effort. Microsoft and Amazon remain in the field as big corporate players. But they, and other, lesser known entities, lag significantly behind socially-minded Yahoo!, in Roush's estimate.
Are there any other studies in this field? Kudos to Roush for the work.
We listed some podlogisms a few months ago. To be fair, those concerned podcasting, rather than iPods as such: podfading, godcasting, porncasting, podsafe, and so on. The Wired piece adds this one, which smacks of inevitability: podcasterbation.
There's a Left Behind Games site, naturally enough, which explains that the upcoming game (Left Behind: Eternal Forces) combines spiritual and... other warfare. Oh Babylon is fallen, and with some relish:
Command your forces through intense battles across a breathtaking, authentic depiction of New York City .
Control more than 30 units types - from Prayer Warrior and Hellraiser to Spies, Special Forces and Battle Tanks!
The short response: skip Rosen's article and read M.R. James' classic story of scary images instead, "The Mezzotint" (1904).
But I can offer a slightly longer response, not without misgivings about treating this essay too seriously. For a screed against the proliferation of images, "The Image Culture" makes several quick runs through historical antecedents. But they are strange passages. Iconoclasm never appears. Instead the article summons Thomas More and his king Henry, perhaps to suggest a dislike of utopian thinking (see below, re: politics). Despite an accumulation of grumbles against image-only artififacts, collage doesn't cross these passionate paragraphs.
Those same prose chunks also fail to make much of a case for the dire dominance of said images. Rosen slips from the statistical piling up of images to their triumph over text, without showing us much evidence for a great cultural turn from one to the other. Neither does she pause to consider text combined with images - perhaps "multimedia" is a bit too lowbrow or chic.
For there is a politics lurking in this neoiconoclasm. The essay repeatedly worries about the democratization of images - to be precise, image editors, more than image creators, despite the multitude of privacy and copyright worries around the latter. It's bad enough that Stalin had people snipped out of photos, but now everyone can be up to no good. DIY memory holes are all around us! Fortunately, some virtuous people have reacted. Rosen takes pains to attach impressive titles to those noble ones, usually faculty at highly-ranked academic institutions, each position duly
enumerated. In contrast the hordes of Photoshopperi remain generally unepitheted.
Despite the esay's publication's date of 2005, there isn't much sign that the past decade of digital critique has touched on this cliched point so far (here's Brin's transparent societyin 1996). Rosen's dislike for pop Photoshop focuses on one side of mass DIY media, since she doesn't notice the way many eyes make photo bugging shallow. No blogger spots errors in Rosen's spotty history, and no network effects occur to surface detection of "corrections." Technology is a fairly one-sided sword here. Even worse, that technology isn't very fresh. Like most Americans, Rosen doesn't say much about mobile phone cameras. Social image services are growing like mad, but barely register.
The article's politics shade into a curious fear of satire, which might just be anti-leftism. Like the Victorians amputating Percy Shelley's politics from his poetry, Rosen disapproves of art with a political aim (all the examples of which are left-wing). Instead she prefers "the manipulation of the image at least serves an authentic artistic vision, a vision that relies on genuine aesthetic and critical standards."
Indeed, Rosen's politics show an odd blindness towards the market. Her writing examines the proliferation of televisions, for example, as an odd intrustion into some pre-device-saturated world (radio appears nowhere in the essay), perhaps intended to "entertain and distract, but in fact ... more successful at annoyance or anesthetization." That television may be a device for selling goods and services is not apparent. Her dislike of cultural triumphalism similarly sidesteps the question of market choice.
That the market might choose erotic images is barely touched on, and only with a palpable shudder.
These image-purveying devices have apparently erupted into our cloisters thanks in part to the blinkered celebrations of "techno-enthusiasts". Rosen conjures up a technophilic elite in order to make her argument seem less frantic. That there may have been, and continue to be, debates about images with multiple points of view cannot be admitted to Rosen's Atlantean canvas.
That vista offers the occasional, odd bit of facile snarkiness. For instance, we come across the facile "In fact, television doesn’t really “tell stories.” See, tvs make images happen, and we viewers have to do the work of assembling narrative. Much as radios only produce sounds, or print makes letters visible. Similialry we also find the moldy complaint that much of tv content isn't very good, a tired jeremiad-particle emitted without a glance at its age (1961), or at the work of media studies, or even at the similarly old, but stronger, counterargument that most print content isn't very good, either.
Doc Searls' "Saving the Net" essay has a lot of good stuff in it. Here I want to draw attention to one of his points, which might be lost in the overarching argument, about net politics and partisan politics:
Advocating and saving the Net is not a partisan issue. Lawmakers and regulators aren't screwing up the Net because they're "Friends of Bush" or "Friends of Hollywood" or liberals or conservatives. They're doing it because one way of framing the Net--as a transport system for content--is winning over another way of framing the Net--as a place where markets and business and culture and governance can all thrive. Otherwise helpful documents, including Ernest Partridge's "After the Internet" [2003-Bryan] fail because they blame "Bush-friendly conservative corporations" and appeal only to one political constituency, in this case, progressives. Freedom, independence, the sovereignty of the individual, private rights and open frontiers are a few among many values shared by progressives and conservatives. (emphasis added)
The old left-right, liberal-conservative continuum, which we inherited from the French Revolution's legislative seating arrangements in the 1790s, doesn't hold up too well in cyberspace. Doc undercuts this a few paragraphs down by mentioning conservatives opposed anything socialist-sounding (the Dems, post DLC, are into this move as well), but the idea still holds. It's really easy to find putatively liberal congresscreatures energetically calling for censorship of online content, for example, and nominal conservatives arguing for freedom of speech. It's been more than a decade since Sir Tim unleased the web, and a generation since the internet shared files, and the politics still haven't settled down into the common groove.
Some of us have been saying this for a while. Larry Lessig has made this point many times, as well. There's a libertarian aura around this pro-net approach, but it doesn't make the translation to the larger, contemporary spectrum of conservative thinking.
It's just extremely difficult to translate such an awareness into politics, at least in the United States, since we seem deeply locked into the liberal-Democrat-left vs conservative-GOP-right duopoly.