Web 2.0 has been revelatory in lots of ways--user-generated naked photos, for one--but the torrent of writing from ordinary folks has certainly been one of the most transfixing. Over the past five years the great American public has blogged and Tweeted and commented up a storm and fulfilled a great modernist dream: the inclusion, the reproduction, the self-representation of the masses. Walter Benjamin spoke of "modern man's legitimate claim to being reproduced" by film, a claim denied modern man by the capitalist film industry; James Joyce's Leopold Bloom lamented the fact that the wisdom of the street found no outlet in literature. Now, through a million open channels, the wisdom of the people is represented, and they can write back to power--or at least to posters of YouTube videos. A lot of this writing has been insightful, strange, and witty. A comparable amount has been racist, homophobic, misogynistic--and a great many people have simply posted very cute photos of their pets.

-- The editors of n+1