Before the modern Internet, lots of media was "rare" -- bootleg recordings, strange videos, obscure bands -- but today, nothing is rare. As a consequence, Rex Sorgatz argues, the social capital that comes from having an encyclopedic knowledge of some band's b-sides has been greatly diminished, and the Comic Book Guy school of know-it-all-ism has transformed itself into the nitpicking commentariat.
More? Nearly 5 million people have heard Bob Marley opine “No Woman No Cry” (“version rare”), while a bit of conspiratorial Area 51 footage (“RARE,” of course) has racked up 1.5 million views. And some Woody Allen standup from 1965 (excitedly: “RARE!”) has garnered a half-million views, while double that number have endured a Marlon Brando screentest (prosaically: “Rare”).
I’ve made my point.
“Rare” is such an quizzical descriptor, a blatant contradiction of the very nature of digital culture. Rarity describes a state of scarcity, and as we enter a proto-post-scarcity economy, digital stuff defies such shortages.
Rarity itself has become very rare.
You Need to Hear This Extremely Rare Recording [Rex Sorgatz/Medium]