It’s Still a Web of Surprises

It’s Still a Web of Surprises

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In this era when there are comebacks afoot by traditional, conservative, nationalist, and in some senses Humanist ideologies, our Web of surprises may seem ever more radical and forward thinking.

To wit, the Internet always has been surprising — which could be considered its universal hallmark from a variety of perspectives. Just as societies are being challenged to embrace outsiders, to continue stretching senses of identity and security, to allow their very concepts of home and livelihood to undergo ongoing international torsions, societies meanwhile remain confronted by the ultimate symbol of global cosmopolitanism: the Internet.

For instance, even some of the most homely, most wholesome of pastimes and hobbies including bingo (which was related with small-town communalism and values after the Second World War, especially in Britain) themselves are getting reinvented. Bingo has found a second life as mobile bingo phone games that city commuters enjoy, with a certain hipster satisfaction. Alas, for Britain, small-town brick and mortar bingo halls have succumbed to the popularity of online gaming. Alternatively, the Web also offers a ready platform for the revival of bygone hobbies and crafts, their rejuvenation, if not even minor cultural renaissances. The concept from Marshall McLuhan of the retrieval of older media (part of a tetrad of effects including obsolescence and reversal, too) could be useful to explain these cases.

Vanguard Mobile Bingo

Bingo is an unexpectedly ideal example of this much broader phenomenon of how the Web is like a giant cultural studio in which old and new forms of folklore and culture are forever getting pasted together in avant-garde ways — but without necessarily trying to be new wave. Digital media just organically tend to mix things up and recombine them. This pattern has been notable in entertainment sectors, particularly online and mobile gaming.

The popularity of bingo and many other casual games have exploded inside Facebook (to be distinguished from the motives of hardcore gamers who are members of shared fantasy worlds, such as World of Warcraft). The social networking ecosystem in some ways replaces the warmth of local pubs, arcades, and game halls. It’s true for land-based bingo especially, which had been known for a lot of group banter and shenanigans.

Another instance of retrieving the human dimension of this game is found among many online bingo guide sites that complement and bolster people’s sense of community as players. We might not have expected that mobile bingo apps and sites would have shown signs of cutting edge trends, technical or cultural, and yet they do. In this and many other ways the Web is proving itself a force of radical change, yet it is tempered by patterns allowing people to retain ties to the past and local communities, amidst unstoppable globalism. 

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