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The livelihood of the internet is at stake.

2011-03-19 13:06:11 by flight39

Please read this. I know it's hard to grab someone's attention on the internet these days with a huge wall of text (that's what the title was for), but I would like to hear what you have to say about it.

I've done a number of things with my allotted bandwidth. Not trying to brag, of course, but for years I've been scouring it for ways to get viewers and do what I like to do online, which includes blogging, filmmaking, and, on this account, musical artistry (if you call what I make "art"). The internet is a wonderful place on which you can post your labors of love and watch your fanbase steadily grow. And I've had a few fans and a few critics and it was all very well - probably my most successful posting of anything on the internet was a YouTube video that I made of my chiptune version of the song "Down Under" by Men at Work, which now has about 8400 views.
So I've never been all that popular and that's fine with me, because as long as you have a few people who like you, you have a reason to keep going on. However, I like to take long breaks from my work sometimes - breaks to work on another medium of art, or perhaps breaks for no purpose at all other then to take a rest after the exhausting, fast-paced world of the internet. But the internet doesn't like that very much. And lately I've been noticing something very unsettling.
Lately, it's been getting harder and harder to get noticed on websites. Maybe it's just bad luck, I don't know. But here, for example, there sure seems to be a bit of an upsurge in downvoters lately. Their numbers have increased and as a result it's harder to get noticed unless you've already been noticed.
I've realized this is due to the fact that more and more people have started to come to Newgrounds. And I've developed a bit of a theory. I like to call it the Cramped Artist theory. It's probably been stated a thousand times already, but just because more people might be aware of it after reading it, here it is:

As a new media-sharing website starts up and new users start to pour in, the difficulty of getting noticed and building a loyal fanbase through that website decreases and keeps decreasing until it hits what I call the 'central point'. (The number of users a website has when at the central point is hard to define, but I like to define it as a website with gaining popularity and already a few big names where you can gain a few friends that actually care about what you have to say and you will start memorizing usernames that you see all over the place.) At the central point during a website's lifetime, if you are new and unique to the scene, your productions are most likely to get noticed by important people.
But then, once a website has reached this crucial size and more people keep pouring in, the website reaches a stage of decline (i.e. it's harder and harder to get noticed, gain friends, etc.) At this point the number of users who share content has become huge, and they're all trying to grab attention away from one another and be famous.
However, normal people aren't interested in new artists anymore, since the views are too spread out and there's too much to choose from, too much to sort through to find something you like. More artists and less viewers view the new content, and those artists are often fickle viewers only trying to promote their own work, secretly despising everyone else's (the type of comments you'll see a lot in this stage of a website are "Great song! It sounds a lot like me! Check my videos out at youtube.com/desperatelywhoringmyselfou t!) Normal people will likely check out the more popular content instead. The website develops into a system, in other words, that rewards people who have already been there, rather than people arriving there. But that doesn't stop people from coming to try and promote their content, bloating the website further.
In a declining website, to gain major popularity, you often need to start selling out your beliefs, your image, and everything else about you in order to appeal to the normal people who are used to watching the popular videos or listening to the popular songs. Diversity is often crushed, and it all gets worse over time until there is a major change in the website's workings or until the website 'dies', like Myspace did a few years ago.

I think Newgrounds is an excellent website and has had some measures put in to prolong its growth and not let it get stagnant, but we need to change something to halt this decline further before it starts getting like the musical branch of Myspace, which has become the place where no-hope bands desperately sell themselves out for views that will never come to their page, or YouTube, a website that is quickly becoming the same thing. And we need to change websites all over the web, for through this process, the more options you have for websites, the less websites will likely progress into a state of decline, and the more diversity there will likely be.
If anyone has kept reading this post until this point, please spread the word about it. I really think that if more people were aware of this then we might be able to fix it before it gets out of control. Sort of a grassroots internet movement. Where the grass is pixelated. The internet used to be a place where anyone could get popularity, and now it's become a lot more exclusive. Perhaps we could return it to a golden age again.
Maybe I'm completely delusional, but those are my two cents. Take this rant as you will, and if you want to say something, don't hesitate to comment on it.
Signing off,
flight39


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