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Web Monitor

16:23 UK time, Thursday, 30 July 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Web Monitor ponders what happens to creativity when a celebrity goes sober and hopes one little internet alien won't crack under the glare of recent publicity. Remember to share your favourite bits of the internet by sending a link via the comment box.

Amy Winehouse• The tale of the relationship between creativity and addiction is nothing new, more than a hundred years before the paparazzi started documenting Amy Winehouse's addiction troubles, poet Samuel Coleridge was addicted to opium and both of their addictions fuelled their material. But Tom Shone in the Economist's More Intelligent Life asks what happens when creative types go sober and if they can use that experience to inspire more works:

"When [F Scott] Fitzgerald went public about his creative decline in Esquire, in a piece entitled The Crack Up--a prototype for all the misery memoirs we have today--Hemingway was disgusted, inviting him to cast his 'balls into the sea--if you have any balls left'. Today, of course, The Crack Up would be shooting up the besteller lists, and Fitzgerald would be sat perched on Oprah's couch talking about his struggle and his co-dependent relationship with Ernest, proudly wearing his 90-day sobriety chip, but in the 1930s, the recovery industry, then in its infancy, was regarded by most with the enthusiasm of a cat approaching a bathtub."

Reddit, a bookmarking site which allows you to share your favourites and look at other people's recommended links, similar to Delicious, Digg and Stumble Upon, has been accompanied by the Reddit Alien for some years now. Web Monitor has been guilty of ignoring the poor little alien when searching for the best links even though he makes the effort to change his outfit everyday. Now one dedicated follower has made a YouTube video to help you catch up on Reddit Alien's wardrobe choices. This is a tribute to Noah Kalina's viral film, created usingphotos he took of himself everyday for six years. Not much happened in that time, unlike Poopmustache's YouTube video charting his beard growth.

There are tonnes of these videos clogging up YouTube - far too many for Web Monitor to handle. If you have an afternoon free / a life free, and fancy looking through these, pass on your favourites to Web Monitor by sending a comment with the link in via the comment box. For now, just enjoy Reddit alien going through changes.


• In the New York Times, a senior editor at Harper's and author of And Then There's This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture, Bill Wasik adds to the "free" debate Web Monitor is tracking. The idea that we could be seeing the end of the money ecnomy was put forward by Chris "I don't use the word journalism/media/news" Anderson's book Free: The Future of a Radical Price. The debate was fiercely criticised in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell who argued that costs for Internet businesses often stack up when the product becomes popular - a kind of economies of scale in reverse. Web Monitor noted the Snarkmarket blog has been looking at what the prospect of "free" would mean to people working in the liberal arts, specifically Guest writer Matt Penniman's prediction that eventually creative types will do fun jobs for free. Bill Wasik is now backing this up, saying that the annual migration of people aspiring to work in the creative industries to New York is no longer necessary thanks to the internet. This keeps the costs down, allowing them to work for free:

"Wherever young creatives physically reside today, in their endeavors they are increasingly moving online: posting their photos, writing, videos and music, building a "presence" in the hope of winning an audience. Monetary rewards on the Internet are still scarce, it is true, but the cost of living is cheap and, more important, the opportunities for attention are plentiful"

• In the Liberty Central strand of the Guardian's Comment is Free Ben Goldacre tracks an online petition signed by celebrities Ricky Gervais and Stephen Fry in support of a journalist who is being sued for defamation by the British Chiropractic Association:

"Today the Australian magazine Cosmos, along with a vast number of other blogs and publications, reprinted an article by Simon Singh, in slightly tweaked form, in an act of solidarity. The British Chiropractic Association has been suing Singh personally for the past 15 months, over a piece in the Guardian where he criticised the BCA for claiming that its members could treat children for colic, ear infections, asthma, prolonged crying, and sleeping and feeding conditions by manipulating their spines."

Bidisha in the Guardian's Comment is Free says the depiction of women in adverts is still dire, citing Current TV's Sarah Haskin's analysis of adverts aimed at women:

"Women are idiots, ninnies, nincompoops. Women are drooling, giggling buffoons whose minds are empty except for a few wafting fibres and whose bodies are revolting sacs of malfunctioning fluids and duff organs.
If TV adverts are anything to go by, I'm hardly exaggerating."

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