Thanks for sharing, James. You nailed it right here. The Internet is a media channel with vastly different limits and rules than anything before. If actors dressed in costumes and tried to perform these kinds of plays on street corners, they’d be run off by police. If someone tried to get it on television, gatekeepers would interfere.
It’s only because of the free access nature of the internet and the impact of discovery algorithms that this kind of content is possible, let alone profitable.
We need to reckon with the reality that fundamental norms and standards shift with every new communication paradigm. When humanity moved from oral to written cultures, the standard for “truth” shifted with it. You could suddenly go read someone’s own words in a book rather than take their followers’ words for it. The “real” version of narratives were locked in place. Religious traditions in oral cultures were more fluid and were recounted by religious leaders to be appropriate to the situation. Great epics like the Iliad worked the same way. When we moved to a written culture, those narratives were written out and preserved. The situational fluidity of truth disappeared and we had to start looking for hidden meanings in a static document.
The Internet, AI, AR and VR all represent fundamental shifts in how we interact with one another and the world around us. They’re going to shift the very foundations of shared culture in ways that are difficult to anticipate. If we don’t decide very clearly what is and isn’t worth preserving, the nature of these systems will set the rules for us, and we’re going to have to live with what we get.