Everyone's a critic
'The cultural influencers are changing," says Brian Kalinowski, chief operating officer of Lycos, the Waltham Internet portal. ''Expert opinion in the media used to drive culture. Now, it's peer recommendations."
Already, consumers can sample a broader range of critical opinion on the Internet -- some of it relevant and thoughtful, covering products that wouldn't ordinarily be reviewed by the mainstream media, and some of it biased or one-dimensional. (''This game rocks!" ) And marketers, such as movie studios and book publishers, are trying to figure out how Internet tastemakers figure into their relationship with their customers.
This year, for instance, movie studios have chosen to forgo advance critics' screenings for more new movies than they did during the same period of last year. The supernatural thriller ''Silent Hill" wasn't shown to critics before it opened on April 21 -- some of the first reviews showed up on the website AintItCoolNews.com that morning -- and yet the movie was last weekend's best box office performer.