A Sociology of Taste, Audience, and Publics
Chapter 2: Essay Two: Yelp and the soapbox imperative
Online reviews are evaluative texts, written by ordinary consumers about goods that can be bought, and aggregated and organized by a Web hosting site. What is new online emerges by contrasting what came before: offline reviews, not written by ordinary people, in print. Book reviews, even dedicated newspaper sections like the New York Times Book Review, date back to the 19th century, as do newspaper restaurant reviews. Newspapers had reviewed music, movies, and popular culture for perhaps a century before the Internet. Consumer Reports flourished more recently, a creature of Late Capitalist, post-World War II affluence in the USA, but still predates the Internet by decades. In short, reviewing predates the Internet. It’s the explosion of amateur reviews, posted to the Web by ordinary consumers, that is new.
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