Note — Oct 31, 2021

Jane Jacobs versus the Kardashians

Seen in → No.194

Source →

Steven Johnson riffing off of Chris Hayes’ On the Internet, We’re Always Famous, on celebrity versus ‘celebrity’ to a few people versus serendipity in cities versus, as I would frame it, the interest graph instead of the social graph. Are you following people because they are your friends or because they are well known? Are you paying attention to ideas materializing around you and following your interests? Johnson believes that even without Facepalm, there would be many of the same problems, that “the ‘pernicious effects’ of democratized fame were in our cards no matter what.”

Every single day on Twitter I stumble across probably at least a dozen clever or funny or provocative things that total strangers have shared, many with links leading off to longer articles or podcasts or videos. These are not op-ed columnists or television anchors; they’re folks who I would have had no way of eavesdropping on thirty years ago. And now they just drift into my consciousness, day after day, a constant source of discovery and serendipity. But they’re not stars or celebrities in my world; they’re peers. […]

I believe that a significant part of the values shift (sometimes called the “Great Awokening”) that we’ve seen over the past decade or two—starting with gay marriage, continuing through Black Lives Matter and MeToo and now trans-rights movements—ultimately the consequence of the radical increase in these sidewalk-style stranger interactions, the ever-larger pool of people and experiences that we now have access to thanks to the Web and social media