Reihan Salam has been pointing out for a long time the ability of the Internet to let people with sympathetic artistic visions find each other, and share their work. There's something to be said for the loss of a communal artistic vision, everybody watching and enjoying the M.A.S.H. finale or similar, the true broadly shared artistic experience. But it does seem to me that this might be gone for good, and the longer we advance in our intellectual and aesthetic pursuits, the more intensely stratified and variegated they become. People will develop tighter and tighter definitions of their intellectual projects, and only the Internet is capable of connecting them with people of closely similar goals. If there is a sadness in the end of the real community-wide intellectual or artistic pursuit, there is joy in the ability of people who have developed intricate philosophies and aesthetics to find others like them in the diaspora. There may no longer be a whole town in the local movie theater watching the newsreels, but there are pomocons and neo-agrarians and radical queer feminist post-structuralist epistemologists, scattered to the winds but united by bandwidth and wi-fi. There's a revolution, in that.
I say this inspired by a Facebook application, of all things. The Graffiti app, like a Paint program for your Facebook, is one of the few Facebook apps that's actually useful and smart and gracefully implemented. Most apps are trash. ("You've been snuggled by Shorty Carbunkle's gay autistic zombie pirate! Snuggle back?") But a few, like Graffiti, are really something. There's an option now where you can replay the artist's every move, which I find endlessly fascinating-- I'm a disaster as a visual artist. Anyway I was looking at some of the public Graffitis, and there are some that, produced by such a simple and limited application, are simply jaw-dropping. And it reminded me again that there are all kinds of genius in the world, that there's a vast variety of really smart and cool people working on many interesting and strange projects. Not all of them will be valuable or affecting to all of us, but almost any of can find something, in the rich ocean of creativity, that touches us. It's a heady time.