internet week

The Hater: Pulling the plug on Internet Week

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We love the Internet. Except when we hate it. Every week, Jordan Valinsky bottles the angst of his Millennial generation and finds something to despise about the Web.

Everyone, just shut up for a second. You hear that faint dial-up noise mixed with gurgles and ambivalence emanating from tech-bastion New York? It must be “Internet Week” again!

It’s an annual series of events that’s plausibly about the Internet. But really, it’s a chance for New Yorkers to collectively unpack and swing around their girthy keyboards toward California screaming, “Hey, HEY Silicon Valley, we *get* the Internet too... but yeah, the weather here does suck.”

Internet Week, or #IWNY as people who use the California-based Twitter call it, seems to be another week where alleged important people from the Internet blow smoke up each other's asses. Of course, they do so while simultaneously: hoping to up their Klout score; adding more connections on LinkedIn; and poaching mayorships from unknowing New Yorkers on Foursquare.

Also, it’s a good place for participants to perfect their talented photography skills. Look at all these really good pictures of “tech titans” talking about the future in their brogramming-approved uniforms. Tumblr’s David Karp snapped in a American Apparel hoodie! Mashable’s Pete Cashmore in a sleek suit thinking about Revlon! A pulled pork sandwich!

Fashion and high cuisine aside, it’s also a week that’s dedicated to chill digital topics, such as “temporal proximity” (those are words that can exist together?), over-analyzing analytics, streaming media, and, most importantly, buzz. Sorry, I meant #buzz.

So it seems like it’s full of talking points that you already heard at South by Southwest in Austin in March, but in a city where an Odwalla costs $9 and where homeless people are not nice enough to bottle some Wi-Fi for you. That seems awful. I hate it.

Or maybe I just don’t get it, since I’m not in New York waving my flip-phone at festivalgoers while giving them the stink-eye.

“It’s a week where the city’s Internet industry comes out from behind their screens,” festival founder David-Michael Davies explained to New York Daily News.

Apparently, us Internet people are socially inept, and this is the only week a year where we can escape our content farms and interact with fellow humans. That probably explains the excess of open bars this week. So make sure you address your e-cards to Stella Artois and Bushmills when you sober up next week, nerds.

Hating aside, I get the general idea is to bring smart people together to percolate ideas on how tech can improve life. Not a bad idea, sure—but like many conferences, isn’t it a bit too much of a circle jerk with an inauthentic feel? Between the odd sponsorships (Revlon’s “New Media Makeover”) and bizarre celebrity appearances, the whole event seems forced. What about bringing in the “little people” who actually use the Internet and not dictate it, like at ROFLcon?

Also, ew, those outrageous ticket prices. Forcing festival goers to purchase $400 pass to fully experience the week is a dick move. But you get a tote at least! (The discounted student ticket is a nice touch that SXSW can learn something from, though.)

Unless  #IWNY is going to evolve into something useful instead of just baiting for bloggable buzz, can it just sign-off already?

Photo via Hashgr.am