Monday, September 17, 2007

eBay as a giant museum

Many words have been spilled on Web 2.0 and how it's supposed to change the world -- from Pulitzer prize-winning pundits to rank-and-file bloggers, everybody seems to have weighed in. Still I haven't read many observations as sharp or fresh as this one from William Gibson. This quote is from William Gibson's interview in Washington Post. Yes, this article is a couple of weeks old, but, as I mentioned before, I'm a leisurely blogger, not a professional one. :-)

"Google is the piece de resistance of weird [stuff] finding," he says. "One of the things I've been doing in the eBay era -- I've become a really keen observer of the rationalization of the world's attic. Every class of human artifact is being sorted and rationalized by this economically driven machine that constantly turns it over and brings it to a higher level of searchability. . . . The tentacles of that operation extend into every flea market and thrift shop and basement and attic in the world. . . .

"Every hair is being numbered -- eBay has every grain of sand. EBay is serving this very, very powerful function which nobody ever intended for it. EBay in the hands of humanity is sorting every last Dick Tracy wrist radio cereal premium sticker that ever existed. It's like some sort of vast unconscious curatorial movement. (emphasis mine -- E.)

"Every toy I had as a child that haunted me, I've been able to see on eBay. [...]

"This is new. People in really small towns can become world-class connoisseurs of something via eBay and Google. This didn't used to be possible. If you are sufficiently obsessive and diligent, you can be a little kid in some town in the backwoods of Tennessee and the world's premier info-monster about some tiny obscure area of stuff. That used to require a city. It no longer does."

The whole article can be found here.

I think I may lobby the FACT reading group coordinator to put Gibson's new book, "Spook Country" on the FACT group candidate list. Even though FACT group on the average didn't like Gibson's earlier novel, "Pattern Recognition", I am quite intrigued by Gibson's perspective.

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