The Culture of the Web

Today there exists an enormous divide between those that understand and participate in the culture of the Web and those that do not.

This chasm runs deeper than just a generation gap, techsifts and there’s more to conquering it than simply being born into the Digital Age.

The Internet is a nation in and of itself, and its culture is as real and nuanced as that of any country under the sun. It’s driven by information traveling instantaneously through billions of connections that function organically as a single collective, Techjunkien creating, defining and shaping its own distinct code of conduct, conversation, humor, protocol and even etiquette.

Why is this important?
Nowhere is this rift of understanding more apparent or consequential than in marketing.

For the casual user, it’s not as important to grasp every nuance. However, if you want to do business and make an impact in this self-made,


self-ruled culture, you must learn what makes it tick. You must be a part of its collective and discern the unifying elements that drive what its people, its tribes and its ruling class do, think, accept, feel, follow and react to – and why.

These governing principles aren’t published in any how-to pamphlet or printed on a membership card. There are no clear signs posted along the way. To know Web culture, you must simply be a part of its collective in every way.

Living in the Internet
True mastery of the Web and its culture comes from living and breathing it day in and day out. Reading what’s popular. Participating in discussion. Paying attention to reactions. Observing as the collective expands its knowledge, evolves its sense of humor, chooses what it hates and likes – all building upon a foundation of shared experience.

These are the fundamental aspects that must be second nature to anyone charged with growing your business – whether that’s you or your marketing agency:

Ruled by tribes of trusted elite

A collective sense of humor


A language and customs of its own

An economy of attention

Gaming as a social connection

The need to belong

The trust barrier


Addicted to sharing

Anti-corporate by default

Greater good

In the know

Freedom above all

Be one

Web time is real time


Failure to not only recognize and comprehend but also to be active in Web culture will greatly increase the risk that any marketing venture you undertake will be ineffectual and ultimately unsuccessful.

Ruled by tribes of trusted elite
Early on, the Internet began to cleverly devise ways to sift through millions of pieces of information to elevate popular stuff, bury hated stuff or otherwise separate from the unremarkable.

In doing so, clearer vision began to take hold on what was worthy of attention and what wasn’t, based on the collective’s opinion. From this, very active users began to shape the very fabric of the Internet collective, and the organism evolved to trust those in its elite class.

These collections of loud voices that think alike and swarm together can sway nearly anything. Old Spice, Barack Obama, Victoria Secret and Conan O’Brien all know the power of the Internet ruling class. They know who have the megaphones, passion and resources in their market and they had marketing people who were part of those tribes.

Building upon the foundations of the Web’s culture, your marketing entity must know how the ruling classes are formed and how they move in every circumstance in order to execute with pinpoint precision and make waves of customers.

A language and customs of its own

The language of the Web is probably one of the most easily understood and heavily evolved foundations of the collective.

‘LOL’s are somewhat ubiquitous, but if your marketing agency doesn’t know why a ROFLcopter is funny, the essence in the difference between FAIL and WIN or what it means to be ‘pwned’ then, believe it or not, you lack fundamental pieces of understanding needed to take hold of the Internet and communicate with its culture in every way.

Beyond simple shorthand, there is the issue of etiquette and protocol. The Web collective has evolved its own rules for what’s acceptable and what is shunned. It may seem silly, but everything from understanding what it means to encapsulate a word with asterisks to shying away from the investment of personal communication, you or your marketing company must be one with its protocols, even if you aren’t marketing to people that adopt the understanding of.

Like all cultures, knowing your boundaries and assimilating yourself into its protocol is essential to go beyond baby steps. You can get by, but you’ll never truly connect on a mass scale.


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