The amorality of Web 2.0?

by oneafrikan on October 20, 2005

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr’s Blog: The amorality of Web 2.0

But as the Web matured during the late 1990s, the dreams of a digital awakening went unfulfilled. The Net turned out to be more about commerce than consciousness, more a mall than a commune. And when the new millenium arrived, it brought not a new age but a dispiritingly commonplace popping of a bubble of earthly greed. Somewhere along the way, the moneychangers had taken over the temple. The Internet had transformed many things, but it had not transformed us. We were the same as ever.

I really enjoyed reading this article (was eating a chicken korma curry, so could take my time) and thought it was kinda in two parts. On one level he talks about how we’re hyping this whole web thing up into more than it really is, and on another level he’s pissed off ‘cos it’s becoming something that isn’t necessarily better than it “could” be… On both counts I agree in principle, but I disagree with the general tone of the article since I can’t think of a better way to make it better for everyone except to kill the hype and get on with it.

People have evolved consciousness, community and culture, for the greater part of our human existence, by sitting around a fire and talking to each other about their experiences. To a greater or lesser degree, blogging is a modern semblance of this ancient form of wisdom passing, which is starting to evolve into a community, and starting to spread around the globe by virtue of its ease of adoption. I honestly don’t think that a top down media dissemination model is best for everyone, as too few people and points of view control what people consume. I also don’t think that blogging should replace mainstream media, for obvious reasons. What blogging is, is a conversation, no more no less, and I think we should see it as such. In time, I think the blogoshpere will be a collection of voices collected around specific topics as communities, without the fire – it’s not going to replace the BBC, the New York Times or the Independant, but it will keep the gamekeeper from telling us there is no game, and it will enable people around the world to converse with each other. Surely that can only be a good thing?

As for Wikipedia, time will tell, but it seems that now more than ever, there is an opportunity for the likes of EB and WB to get involved in a way that makes sense to them as a viable business model, rather than being the proverbial old moose stuck in the headlights of emerging technology. Perhaps the smart move is to figure out how they can survive, co-exist and contribute at the same time? Another argument is that if you want to have something better than it already is, then get involved to make it better rather than pointing and complaining… That may be controversial to some, but lets face it, Wikipedia is probably not going to go away anytime soon, so it’s either find a way to make the information it contains more reliable or just deal with it.

As for consciousness, I’d rather my consciousness stayed in my head – I don’t want the machines to “rise”, and I don’t want to be so dependant on technology I can’t live without it. I want technology to be my slave and I want it to help make the world a better place too.

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