I do remember watching this TED talk by Evgeny Morozov when it was first posted on the site last September, but I must have stopped it before the end for some reason because I don’t think I saw this pyramid. Today I was once again redirected to the video through retweets.
You will see his original version around 11 minutes in the clip, and the above is my simple reproduction for better readability.
I have a tendency to be wary of ‘schematics’ in general despite their obvious merits and this one was not an exception. A hierarchy on what level? Was he implying that one kind of experiences is (normatively) more desirable than another (like in video games)? More powerful than another (like in the food web or with poker hand rankings)? Or was it an innocent attempt to visualise the proportional difference in terms of the numbers of the users who are into the respective genres of experiences and I am reading too much into it? Then how about overlaps between those categories of users – e.g. cyber-activists who also indulge in “cyber-hedonism”? Or how about examples of the 80-20 rule found in cyberspace as much as, if not more than, in the offline world?
Let me be clear here though. Having said all this, I am not entirely dismissing this observation. I think the patterns he identified in his talk are noteworthy. I guess it is more likely for a user to start with something merry and superficial and move on to the spirit of sociability and eventually to political engagement than the other way around. (FYI. Bakardjieva concisely discussed this in her article Virtual Togetherness, 2003: 301, which I cited in my thesis, 2009: 43.)
My reservation is more of a question why this transition doesn’t necessarily happen very often. Or rather, do we have to insist that it should happen at all?