It’s because there is a very big difference between a statement occurring in a database and someone having, or learning, a piece of knowledge. If all human beings died out, there would be no knowledge left even if all libraries and the whole Internet survived. Knowledge exists only inside people’s heads. It is created not by being accessed in a database search, but by being learned and mastered. A collection of Wikipedia articles about physics contains text; the mind of a physicist contains knowledge.
I get the sense that a lot of geeks are acting–quite unusually for them–defensively, because I’ve presented them with a sobering truth about themselves that they hadn’t realized. Consequently they’ve been unusually thoughtful and polite. What struck me about these discussions was the unusually earnest attempts, in most cases, to come to grips with some of the issues I raised. [...] Of course, there has been some of the usual slagging from the haters, and a fair number of not-very-bright responses, but an unusually high proportion of signal, some of it quite insightful. Reminds me of some old college seminars, maybe.
The Dewey-Lippmann debate, which broached many of these issues almost a century ago, goes completely unmentioned. Bruno Latour’s more recent attempts to produce a political theory that could account for the emergence of issue-oriented and object-oriented publics is nowhere to be seen. All we get are some glimpses of Habermas.
THERE IS NOT much consistency in Jarvis’s thought about technology. Whenever he needs to explain something positive, his instinct is always to credit the Internet: it is the one factor responsible for more publicness, more democracy, more freedom. And every time he turns to darker and more difficult subjects—like discrimination, or shame—he announces that they have nothing to do with the Internet and are simply the product of outdated social mores or ineffective politics.
[Jarvis] chides privacy advocates for focusing on edge cases, such as teenagers who are ostracized because their private videos appear online—“this debate tends to be held around the extremes.... edge cases are good at feeding debates but not at informing norms”—but then he proceeds to build the case for “publicness” entirely with edge cases. How normal are Howard Stern, the “New York gadabout” Julia Allison, Oprah Winfrey, and Josh Harris ofWe Live in Public fame? Are any of them “informing norms” that would apply to an unemployed and uninsured single mother from Iowa?
Why worry about the growing dominance of such digitalism? The reason should be obvious. As Internet-driven explanations crowd out everything else, our entire vocabulary is being re-defined. Collaboration is re-interpreted through the prism of Wikipedia; communication, through the prism of social networking; democratic participation, through the prism of crowd-sourcing; cosmopolitanism, through the prism of reading the blogs of exotic “others”; political upheaval, through the prism of the so-called Twitter revolutions.
the "deep" discussion on almost any topic is there for anyone who wants to follow the breadcrumbs
But you're not going to be able to make valid cultural inferences about the entire Internet by looking at twitter.
If you haven’t studied philosophy, you can’t begin to understand the universe and our place in it–I don’t care how much theoretical physics you’ve studied.
I do find such a statement very dismissive of experts in the study of the Universe (aka cosmology) which requires deep knowledge of theoretical physics. By making the above statement, you are guilty yourself of what you accuse “anti-intellectual geeks” of doing.
I would counter by saying: if you have not studied advanced theoretical physics, if you are not aware of all the known facts about the Universe (including having a deep understanding of the physical laws that describe it) and of their limitations, then you can’t pretend to understand the Universe and our place in it, regardless of how much philosophy you have studied.
Have you heard of the “No true Scotsman” fallacy? Take a look at your response to the claim (#10) that the liberal arts are a waste of time: If you believe this way, then I have to point out that virtually any *really* educated person will disagree with you.” You seem to be saying that no *true* intellectual would agree with this claim.
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