We started this project to connect to our community… to weave together a fabric of ideas made from the kindred producers making interesting videos about art online.
We were also curious as to what art organizations talk about when they talk about art.
We had hoped to create structures for navigating a section of the internet that somehow resisted an algorithmic experience. Our experiments show this might be possible, but the connections and conversations we had while experimenting suggest… no plead… that together we need to build alternatives.
Collective and collaborative projects like VUCAVU (a streaming platform for Canadian arts distributors) and Cube Commons (a new collective owned and operated arts education platform) are essential to the long term health and well being of the Canadian Cultural Sector. We will not topple the monocultural infrastructure of algorithmic video consumption, but we risk ecosystem collapse if there is no diversity. Not only diversity of content, but of platform management and information structure and recommendation systems– diversity in the deep dark soil from which things grow.
Here is the summary of what we have learned in all its complexity and contradiction:
YouTube (and TikTok and Reels and and and) are gambling games that pay out.
If you optimize to be machine readable and play the algorithm you and your organization may share in some of the winnings, but the house always wins in the end.
However, some of us must play.
Some of us must try to beat the house because we do not want these platforms to be absent of our perspectives and ideas.
Culture of today is made there as much as anywhere.
But we must also build alternatives to these casinos of culture.
And not just hope for a new casino with a new type of gambling but a collection of alternatives that show there are other ways to play, other ways to create, distribute and enjoy culture.
And most importantly we must do this together.
There is much to be said about the optimism of the early, more open, internet. It feels like we are in a striking moment, coming into a post-COVID world, fatigued by what network existence has become, we can be tempted by nostalgia for a pre-social media time.
However, as we look to the past we must be careful not to gaze with rose colored glasses. It is perhaps our optimism about digital life that enabled these new technological (and thus political) superpowers to become what they are.
There are, of course, many shifting elements to this post-COVID digital world. The rise of the Fediverse is putting new terms into the public imagination. If you can see through the smoke and mirrors of crypto culture one can see very exciting conversations about interoperability and governance and democracy happening in the blockchain space.
There are many important projects and thinkers working through new ideas of network life and the collective dimension to it. They are identifying the state of things, but also proposing alternatives.