Lost without the web?

Is Lostpedia the greatest invention known to man?

If you’re a Lost fan, one who has undergone five series of agony for what one hopes will be the ultimate payoff, you might well agree.

If you’ve never seen the show, which started back last Friday, or stopped watching so early that you think Jack’s biggest problems are polar bears and Sawyer, then you might think: what?

Lostpedia, for the record, is essentially Wikipedia for JJ Abrams disciples. It’s a forum detailing everything – or at least, almost everything – known about the episodes, the characters and the themes.

Like Wikipedia, it’s user generated which means any crackpot with a theory about why the island moves or who exactly the smoke monster is can post an explanation.

Essentially, it’s the height of geek-dom. Not only are Lost fans fervent followers of a wierd sci-fi show, they actually spend other time reading and talking about it. One way ticket to loserville, right?

Except, if you’ve actually seen the show of late, you’ll know that Lostpedia, and all the other recaps and theories espoused on websites around the world, are pretty crucial.

Lost is perhaps the most complicated and implausible TV show around, and certainly the only one I’ve ever felt the need to ‘revise’ before the start of the new series.

It’s torturous, often not very enjoyable and highly addictive, and it needs the companion guide.

Remember when you studied Shakespeare at GCSE. You read the play, but you’d probably also watch the film version, perhaps see it on stage and invariably refer to the York notes study guide. Lost is exactly the same – you can’t just watch it – which is why it couldn’t have survived without the internet.

Fifteen years ago, Lost may not have made it to series six with so many viewers, not to mention such a high profile, because everyone would just have given up. Oceanic 815 would still have crashed, but you’d never have invested in finding out what happened.

Lost: a series for the online era?

Sure, back in the pre-web days we could discuss a dramatic episode or deconstruct a particularly complicated film. But the opportunity to analyse, and analyse some more, and then some more; that’s a function of the endless beast that is the internet.

For a show so complicated – time travel, good versus evil, a wierd hippie commune, not to mention the Jack, Kate and Sawyer love triangle – if you didn’t have something to help you digest it all, you’d have to give up.

Without the internet, Lost fans would need a help-line with desperate fans phoning up in a panic: “why is Charlie back from the dead, who was Cindy again, when did Adam tell Hurley about the guitar case.”

There are 5,980 articles on Lostpedia – it actually went up by one while I clicked on the site – and the content will just keep on growing. The show, to most fans relief, is ending this season, but it’s unlikely to answer all the questions. According to co-creator Carlton Cuse:

“Obviously, not every question’s going to be answered […] some people are going to be upset that those particular questions don’t get resolved. But we felt that if we tried to just answer questions, it would be very pedantic.”

This will lead to deranged, suicidal thoughts by losties everywhere, but also to plethora of online activity. Mark my words, when the final episode wraps, the internet will be swarming with theories, observations and emoting, not to mention they inevitable fan fiction.

So there you have it; Lost, the official TV success story of the web age.

Ironic really, for a show set on a desert island with little technology to speak of.


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