Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Shutdown Day site -- the morning after

I'm disappointed at how the Shutdown Day site has devolved into much more static forms. The home page uses typography to show the often crude and macho claims that the day was spent on the computer and/or engaged in exotic sex. I had been very much taken with the energy of the "Shutdown Day" site in the runup to March 24. It was driven by the device of an artificially created deadline, and some interesting graphic representations of statistics about participation levels, which stimulated more participation. It was engagingly "sticky" to use a phrase from the book "Tipping Point". In comparison to that excitement, the commitment, even on the part of the people who put the site up there, seems to have evaporated once the day came and went. Now the site seems to be drifting like a satellite that has run out of fuel.

I was on the verge of deleting the link to the Shutdown Day site in the sidebar on the right, but then I realized that my reaction might be a generation thing, and that I need to take a look at what is triggering me both positively and negatively. The site took a younger, tech-savvy approach which in the end seems shallow to me. Deleting the link seems like going into denial. The site got 50,000 people engaged enough to go online and, not only comment, but also to participate. Does it matter that the interest was so short-lived? I need to come to terms with the short attention spans and ephemerality of work produced for the internet. Can I live with that as an artist? If I can't, can I take my own advice and "take what I want and leave the rest"?

I'm reflecting a lot about how I, as a socially engaged artist, can make a place for myself on the internet which will find its audience, and continue to hold it. My theme of balancing technology with life is very similar to the one being promoted by the Shutdown Day people. I am looking for ways of expressing my message in a way that engages an audience of peers? The lack of comments here shows that I could learn a lot about "stickiness" from Shutdown Day.

There is a "support Shutdown Day" area, suggesting that people who want to get involved could donate to "the National Laptop Foundation" which recycles computers to people who can't afford them, including seniors. When it showed up on the Friday night I thought it was a puzzling detour from the main event. Now I'm still intrigued at what seems to be an effort to go beyond a one-day event. I'll check it out and let you know.

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