Posts tagged with "zeitgeist" - Faerye Net 2010-06-13T00:04:57+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Zeitgeist in the machine 2010-06-13T00:04:57+00:00 2010-06-13T00:48:55+00:00 <p>You know how you&#8217;ve never heard of something, and then you hear about it seven times in one week? I used to think it was largely psychological &#8212; you wouldn&#8217;t have noticed the extra instances until you had a context and a reason to remark them. (In fact, there&#8217;s a psychological term for this impression: the <a href="" target="links">Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon</a>, a learned psychologist informs me.) But I think it&#8217;s also partly real, an effect of zeitgeist, critical mass of relevance. Or as we now say, of something being <a href="" target="links">&#8220;trending&#8221;</a>.</p> <p>I had an interesting experience along these lines recently. I had seen the cover of <a href="" target="links">Janelle Monáe</a>&#8216;s first album <a href="" target="links"><em>The ArchAndroid</em></a>, but I hadn&#8217;t really registered it until I saw a link round-up on <a href="" target="links">Racialicious</a> with two links to blog posts about her, one of which had an embedded video. Long story short, I ended up buying both <em>ArchAndroid</em> and her earlier mini-album and loving both. (While I mostly use this as an example, I do recommend checking her out: her voice is as versatile as her songwriting talent, and her album is catchy but smart, eclectic but cohesive.) I <a href="">tweeted about it</a>. This was June 7.</p> <p>On June 9, I noticed her <a href="" target="links">uh, imprint</a> had retweeted my tweet, as they do most mentions of her, and that their most recent retweets mentioned that her name was trending. And now <a href="" target="links">she&#8217;s showing up other places</a> I wouldn&#8217;t have expected. The weird part here is that her album came out <strong>May 18</strong>, and it&#8217;s getting this body of attention now. One of the original two articles I read was complaining that no one was noticing her album &#8212; that it didn&#8217;t have &#8216;buzz&#8217;. A week later, I think that&#8217;s no longer the case. And that&#8217;s what is so odd about trending topics. There is now a metric for buzz.</p> <p>It used to be that zeitgeist lived up to its ethereal name (&#8216;geist&#8217; is literally &#8216;spirit&#8217;), but now we have to some extent bottled that genie. As we analyze, capture, track and archive more and more about our lives &#8212; where we go, who we like, what we watch and listen to &#8212; there will probably be other moments like this, when the intangible becomes suddenly concrete. Perhaps some of them will make us nostalgic, but perhaps it&#8217;s a good thing. That blogger complaining that Janelle Monáe didn&#8217;t have buzz was creating buzz. She was one (big) rock hitting more pebbles, and the hillside moved. We can measure this buzz because all of our voices contribute. There&#8217;s something charmingly democratic about it, even if it means the world is that much more mechanical.</p>