Webster defines Graffiti as, “an inscription or drawing made on some public surface (as a rock or wall); also: a message or slogan written as or as if as a graffito”. The definition details an overlay of content to not envisioned by the originators. I think it is useful to apply this description to blogs and wikis. I speak not of off-topic comments or some late night hack on the face of a blog or the rabid stream of irrational thought that sometimes plagues Wikipedia. But instead I wish to abstract the idea of graffiti as more than a concrete expression on a specific instance of art but instead as an ethereal spray of ignorance upon the tapestry of the collective knowledge consciousness.
Wiki’s and blogs are simply readily accessible tools of communication. They amplify the voice of the speaker so that their ruminations may be heard and carried far beyond the natural ability of the speaker to promulgate their ideas. Such the same can be said of the chisel, the pen and the press.
Many of us have an inherent belief that the marketplace of ideas and the common milieu is the manifest destiny of the enlightened culture. That democratization of information is the preeminent goal of an advance culture. However with unrestrained freedom of expression comes the babble of ignorance.
The economics of knowledge have in the past ensured that the imprecise expression of the poorly considered was not wrought upon the masses. Instead the chisel was securely placed within the means of those who understood its power. The pen was a luxury obtained and begotten to those whose attentions were not fettered by the basic necessities of life. The press has always been the well within the domain of the plutocracy.
Yet as the digital age opens before us opportunities of expression to even those of the simplest of means we expose our collective understanding to that to which is uncircumcised with perspective and consideration.
Information is foisted upon us without regard or disdain. It permeates our tapestry of knowledge like graffiti however it is much more insidious and corrosive. Art that has been defaced by graffiti can be restored but when graffiti is indistinguishable from that of true art it is less manageable and thus its deleterious effects on the common good and life of the mass is magnified.
It is contrarian to western culture to proffer a belief those counter to our common ideals of expression. But should we think deeply about our responsibilities to provide for the common enlightenment of ourselves we may a start revelation that not all information is condign to the benefit of the community. Without the judgment of the learned we teeter on the brink of information chaos to which enlightenment is cowed with the darkness of ignorance.