Culture is future » Innovation and digital

11.21.2012 : When the internet user becomes the expert

The impact of new technologies on creative industries and culture is one of the topmost issues of the Forum d’Avignon. Smartphones, tablets, mini laptops and so many other digital items’ industries are flourishing. Web 2.0 and social networks conquer new adepts every day. In this context the nature and role of digital culture or “online culture” is a trending topic. 

Created by Kevin Kuipers, Guillaume Boutin and Clément Apap, Sens Critique’s first steps online as a beta version (invites only) were on March 2010. Open to the public at large on the 1st of December 2011, it is often presented as THE cultural social network or as the “Cultural Facebook”. The home page describes it those words: “Discover, mark and share movies, books, games, TV shows, comics and music”.

The website whereabouts are easy to get. As a user, you must create yourself an account in order to choose people to “follow”.  Inspired by the Twitter system (following / followers), you build up a network of “cultural profiles” that interest you and subscribe to their news feed.

 This participative tool provides a fun way to talk about culture. Indeed the Internet user gives a mark on a scale to 10 to movies, books, games, music albums and comics depending on their taste and appreciation. It is also possible to write reviews. This entire information combined on your profile represents what you want to show about your cultural taste and activities.

Beyond the question of “what does it says about you” lies another interesting phenomenon: the concept of sharing advises or the “advisers network”.

Many developers understood this enthusiasm for peer-to-peer advises and a lot of websites and apps rely on this concept of sharing your experiences about restaurants, hotels, bars and so on. Sens Critique offers the possibility to do the same on a cultural level. People can express their point of view and some of them do it with an undeniable ability.

By choosing whom to follow, Sens Critique users grow themselves an advisers network. You don’t know which movie is a must-see? Can’t decide on a new music album or a tv-show to occupy your Sundays? Sens Critique has become THE essential tool to make up your mind by giving you different ways to inform yourself and see what other people think about it. You can check what’s popular at the moment or which items have the best ranking. Generally speaking it is unlikely to do not be tempted by new cultural content when browsing on the home page or through the profiles you follow.

Sens Critique offers an alternative to notorious reviewers and mass media by organising and facilitating this peer-to-peer sharing. Ordinary people can now become opinion leader by writing cultural reviews online. But does this new field of expertise from ordinary Internet users jeopardize the work of professional experts and reviewers or does it complete it?  Despite the intellectual stimulation encouraged by this kind of exchanges, can we really dispense with the intellectual contribution of those professionals?


A contribution of the University of Avignon, by Elena Winterhalter.