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New Essay: Did the internet kill "Monoculture"?
My latest essay for Vox on how sameness has taken over digital culture.
I have a new essay published today on Vox: Does monoculture exist on the internet?
When Game of Thrones and Avengers ended in 2019, there was a rash of anxiety from journalists and critics: Since digital streaming is fracturing our attention and consumption, would any media be so popular ever again? They were mourning the loss of some perceived universality that came with old media.
My essay finds that “the monoculture” is actually bigger and more homogenous than ever, thanks to algorithmic social media and streaming recommendations. We think we’re getting personalized feeds, but we’re actually being driven toward more of the same stuff, and stuff that looks more similar than different or unique. It follows a big thesis of mine: Algorithmic culture creates sameness, whether it’s on Spotify, Netflix, Airbnb, or Twitter.
This is a bad thing! I don’t want to measure the success of culture only by how popular it can become, or how optimized it is to algorithmic platforms. I talked to novelist Caleb Crain about how to resist the looming digital monoculture.
I hope you check out the piece, and let me know if you have any thoughts! This is all more material that I hope leads to my second book, on my ideas of AirSpace and how algorithms shape the creation and consumption of culture in the 21st century.