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Strelka Institute

Lev Manovich: “Instagram is a window into people’s thoughts and imagination.”
Published June 3, 2015.

“Q: The modern information space is characterized by the absence of hierarchy: we are all equal when it comes to Internet. Do you think that one day we might get so used to this equality and that we would transfer it into real life?
A: When World Wide Web started to develop in the 1990s, this was the point often discussed: how it brings the absence of hierarchy. Both Microsoft and some school kid that no one’s ever heard about could create a website using the same technology and these websites look pretty much the same.
But a lot has changed since then. Many parts of digital culture become rules by monololies. Google is the dominant search engine in many countries and it is also very hard to compete with Facebook or VKontakte — they have far too many users. Companies developed various web technologies that make websites more complex and attractive. But as a result, an ordinary person is no longer able to compete with them. Creating a really good large scale website can cost dozens or hundreds of hundreds of thousands dollars.
But of course our habits have also changed: today anyone can send Twitter or Facebook message to anyone (although it does not mean that you will get the answer). Each week I get emails not just from professors, but also from students from all over the world. Recently I even received a letter from a high school student offering to work on our lab’s projects to get experience.
But you see, online world cannot change everything — some features of human societies such as competition, hierarchy, and inequality will probably always remain. All physical, biological and social systems that we know have their own hierarchies. So probably such mechanisms are so vital to the functioning of the systems that nothing could alter them in a fundamental way.”

Interview  2015