The original idea behind the internet was that it would be a place for everyone to interact. Sort of like society, but in a virtual world where distance was no barrier.
However, that’s not what happened. More evidence suggests that online audiences reflect exactly zero of what’s going on in the world, and instead reflects the interests of a special audience that has gathered on the internet much as daytime TV segregated its viewers from society at large.
A movie that was all the rage on Twitter turns out to be very much not a hit with the population at large. What does this tell us? That like media elites themselves, Twitter and other social media are an online “elite” that doesn’t represent the population.
We might even go so far as to point out that these “social” services tend to attract hipsters, which are nerds who specialize in socializing, and that this group then gains disproportionate influence if media pays attention to them.
This isn’t the first warning sign. The biggest, by far, was the comScore survey showing that 8% of internet users are responsible for 85% of the clicks on ads.
What this means is that the internet is a niche audience. It’s not a survey, where a small but representative group shows us what the whole group is thinking. It’s a specialized group, selected by their desire to socialize through machines, whose opinions are more popularity-driven than those of the majority and not applicable to that majority.
This could be excellent news for hackers. When people stop viewing “the internet audience” as relevant, focus returns to people doing interesting things online: creating actual communities, crafting code, breaking into AT&T, and generally inventing things as opposed to tweeting about them.