“Mass culture is dead. Every one of us is creating our own version of culture.”

This quote from futurist Faith Popcorn sums up a lot of things I have been experiencing lately.

Whether it’s YouTube-inspired dance moves, crowd-sourced literature, or my own personalized information stream, the Internet is inexorably un-tethering  culture from the places on earth and moments in time.

Culture used to be narrowly defined by country — perhaps even a region within a country — that had its own way of dress, food, art and lifestyle. But what happens to this concept when all art, music, and literature is globally-dispersed, user-generated, open-source, multi-platform and available on demand?

Well, for one, I sense that I am creating my own individual “culture!”

Not long ago, pop culture in America was largely defined by TV networks, local newspapers, ad executives, Hollywood and record companies. Now, I make my own newspaper. I watch programming from all over the world whenever I want to, and largely commercial-free. There is nobody in the world who  watches my “TV network” or listens to my “radio station” or reads “my newspaper.” I am surrounding myself with the World Culture of Mark. And through my own publishing, I’m influencing the culture of others.

Even something as physical and seemingly regionally-specific as dance is evolving digitally and globally.  Chris Anderson recently gave a compelling TED speech on how the rise of web video is driving this phenomenon.  In one example, he showed how dance moves now spread through the world, are enhanced and improved, and then sent back the other way again.  A global culture of dance is evolving through what Anderson calls Crowd Accelerated Innovation.

Personally, I like it!   I get a rush out of connecting to the world on my terms and my time. I love experiencing these amazing new cultural mash-ups.  But over time, will these rich historical cultures be diluted or even forgotten? Will we have museums to the regional cultures and customs the Internet diluted — or destroyed?

So much to think about and this is a subject EVERYBODY can have an opinion about!  Here are a few questions for you. Pick one that interests you and tell me what you think about it in the comment section!

  • Will the Internet eventually create a definable World Culture?  Is having a global cultural icon like Michael Jackson a sign of this?
  • Will the rich customs and culture of a place like France or Japan be made less relevant to the next generations by a digitizing, globalizing world?
  • What are the implications of an Internet culture that seems to favor the English language?
  • Are you creating your own user-defined web culture?
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