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Today's fear, uncertainty, and doubt brought to you by the internets.
July 29, 2005 8:55 AM   Subscribe

Internets: Serious Business! These last few months have seen an increase in the attacks on the participatory culture of the web. The mainstream establishments, both political and corporate, have been looking with a cautious eye towards this new developing place. So far we've established that blogs can get you fired, keep you from getting a job, give pedophiles a place to ruminate on snatching your children, threaten journalistic integrity *snicker*, endanger the marketing , product planning, and product life cycles for automobile manufacturers, can infect your computer with virii, and have all sorts of negative consequences. The internets (both of them) can cause your children to be charmed, seduced, and addicted by readily available porn, and can also provide access to extremist radical and fundamentalist groups, prompting Congress to discuss more restrictive legislation (NSFW), but only for the porn. It has even been claimed that the web has given "Al Qaeda wings". P2P is blamed as causing record loses by the music industry, despite their investments in local station marketing payola. The FEC has held public hearings attended by both hemispheres of the blogosphere (amazingly in near-agreement) discussing the regulation of political speech online. The figureheads of a certain political party fear that their affiliated slice of the blogosphere may be too far-left. Newspapers and TV are leading the charge, with the internet standing in for pharmaceutical scares, yo-yo diets, and missing white women. The question is, how will the libertarian-minded digerati respond to this very real attack on the essence of web culture?
posted by rzklkng (34 comments total)

 
how will the libertarian-minded digerati respond to this very real attack on the essence of web culture?

dismissively.
posted by mosch at 8:58 AM on July 29, 2005


Ha!
posted by Aquaman at 9:01 AM on July 29, 2005


mosch, not the libertarian party, but more of the Larry Lessig, Jeff Jarvis, matthowie, Creative Commons, share-and-share alike crowd.
posted by rzklkng at 9:02 AM on July 29, 2005


Sorry, but I'm missing something. What exactly is the attack on web culture?
posted by biffa at 9:02 AM on July 29, 2005


The same way we always have. By going on about our business confident that the masses will likely never understand us.

We're like the nerds in high-shcool. Shunned by everyone, but in the end we will run the world's infrastructure as things get increasingly high-tech.

And the GEEKS shall inherit the earth! (Or at least Norrath)
posted by mystyk at 9:03 AM on July 29, 2005


Mystyk, the Morlocks do occasionally eat the Elohim. 500 years from now, the world will be very interesting along this 'separation of culture', if we all survive.
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:06 AM on July 29, 2005


blogs will also, rot your mind, curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war.
posted by jonmc at 9:10 AM on July 29, 2005


The question is, how will the libertarian-minded digerati respond to this very real attack on the essence of web culture?

with reams and reams of hysterical paranoid rantings, conspiracy theories, and self-righteous calls to man the virtual barricades

or telling the world what we had for dinner last night ... i can't decide which
posted by pyramid termite at 9:12 AM on July 29, 2005


Oh no, what will the digerati do without the web culture?!?! THIS IS HORRIBLE!!!
posted by Josh Zhixel at 9:14 AM on July 29, 2005


While I find the references to the vast number of really stupid blogs out there funny, and I'll be the first time chime in and throw out a comment on all the irritating little angry goth/punk/emo kid blogs out there -- I think the poster is being ignored a bit too much here.

There IS an onslaught of outcry about blogs because the people getting busted by the good ones don't like it, and the people getting libelled on the bad ones don't like it either.

Has the "Journalistic Integrity in blogs" discussion been done already? Yeah, I suppose it has, but that doesn't mean that there's no issue.

In fact, the post covers more than just blogs - it covers a general participatory culture - a true shot at a voice for everyone involved... something a bit closer to the "Democracy" we idolize but don't really live in. [comment on that: On the flip side of that coin, a political system where everyone gets time at the microphone sounds great and all, but isn't realistic - I'm not poo-pooing on America here, just talking about the juxtaposition of idealistic schoolteachings versus reality]...

I, for one, find the subject matter of how the internet is changing individuals voices to be pretty compelling.

From blogs to reviewing products on Amazon and being able to clue people in to their suckitude - people have a voice on just about everything nowadays, and it's interesting to see what it will do to us both socially and economically...
posted by twiggy at 9:19 AM on July 29, 2005


I would like to point out the existence of an overlooked evil: Hands. Hands can be used to pass pornography, to distribute illegally copied material, to engage in terrorist activities. Hands are often used by pedophiles. Hands represent extremities, both left and right: in fact they are the most extreme part of extremities. Hands have appeared throughout history. Hitler had hands. So did Benedict Arnold. I would like to point out all of this, but I can't point without using my hands.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:25 AM on July 29, 2005


Twiggy, that's what I was getting at. Thanks.
posted by rzklkng at 9:26 AM on July 29, 2005


pyramid termite: or telling the world what we had for dinner last night

hummus and bazerghan on whole wheat. Roasted potatoes. Double chocolate chip cookie.

I'll tell you what the digerati have not shown any indications of doing after 10 years of this. They won't give up their utopian pretentions of the internet as a revolutionary grand new medium to replace MSM. They are the ecological equivalent of dung beetles harvesting the excrement of traditional media all the while claiming that someday they will rise above rolling little balls around, storm around on four legs and replace the lumbering dim-witted beasts that give them their daily poo.

I say it's about gawdamn time we realize the honeymoon is over, and that our darling spousal unit farts while sleeping, leaves the towels on the floor, and has some annoying blind spots when it comes to viewing the world.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:32 AM on July 29, 2005


twiggy: In fact, the post covers more than just blogs - it covers a general participatory culture - a true shot at a voice for everyone involved... something a bit closer to the "Democracy" we idolize but don't really live in.

The more I do research on this, the more profoundly I'm convinced that the democratic utopian ideals of the net consistantly fail to materialize. Instead, what you have is a recreation of the same old heirarchies that have always existed in the "real world." We knew this about mailing lists, dialup BBSs and usenet before the web even got started.

I'm not especially happy about this. I've been a network utopian for about 16 years now. And I think the bottom line is that technology alone means less than a bucket of warm spit.

Same shit, different channel.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:46 AM on July 29, 2005


Great post rzklkng.

threaten journalistic integrity *snicker*
Absolutely.
posted by nofundy at 9:50 AM on July 29, 2005


the Morlocks do occasionally eat the Elohim.

The Neal Stephenson-type Morlocks, or the "unwashed masses"-type Morlocks?

/digerati and geek aren't the same, anyway.
posted by PsychoKick at 9:50 AM on July 29, 2005


highways : highway system :: networks : network system?

internetworking -- a way of connecting all the various types of networks, regardless of their individual incompatibilities

internet -- the result of connecting all the various networks

inernets -- ?

Good god what foul social disease has brought me to linguistic conservatism. What a derry do, these boffins have wrought.
posted by nervousfritz at 9:57 AM on July 29, 2005


The Neal Stephenson-type Morlocks, or the "unwashed masses"-type Morlocks?

That's funny :) I was intending the H.G. Wells Morlocks.

In the linked article, they never call the Eloi 'Elohim'. Any idea how that got stuck in my brain?
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:20 AM on July 29, 2005


more outside, not inside
posted by poppo at 10:37 AM on July 29, 2005


dances_with_sneetches, you win.
posted by shoepal at 10:45 AM on July 29, 2005


"From blogs to reviewing products on Amazon and being able to clue people in to their suckitude - people have a voice on just about everything nowadays, and it's interesting to see what it will do to us both socially and economically..."

Pretty close.

I wonder when the blogosphere will begin to veer away from the opinion venting toward the decision making that Bill Gates foresaw as its purpose.

One thing I've become aware of in my blog cruising... opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one. The overwhelming prevalance of fierce opinion is a revelation in itself. Opinion is cheap.

When we've gotten completely fed up with opinion, something else will emerge. What will it be?
posted by Shouting at 10:50 AM on July 29, 2005


The hype never was that good, but the reality is better than you think. Try going cold tukey with no internet for a week.. a few days! You'd be amazed how much your life has been changed.
posted by stbalbach at 10:59 AM on July 29, 2005


Wait, you mean some people take blogs (god I hate that word) seriously?
posted by odinsdream at 11:33 AM on July 29, 2005


The hype never was that good, but the reality is better than you think. Try going cold tukey with no internet for a week.. a few days! You'd be amazed how much your life has been changed.

Great Idea!! I might start next week
posted by wheelieman at 11:46 AM on July 29, 2005


Instead, what you have is a recreation of the same old heirarchies that have always existed in the "real world." We knew this about mailing lists, dialup BBSs and usenet before the web even got started.

Usenet was easily destroyed by the unreasonable number of new users that suddenly showed up one day in 1993 or so. No doubt it was never any kind of perfect anarchist ideal, but it was certainly something different. It was too limited to survive, of course. Not surprisingly, metafilter too is slowly trudging along the usual path to a similar kind of destruction, same one I've seen many newsgroups and BBS follow.

But the point is, there will always be a few nodes of freedom, where those "same old heirarchies" can be escaped for a while. I don't think these loci of freedom are likely to grow large enough or live long enough to challenge the Big Media, with its putrefying gaze, but you know, they will always sprout up here and there, and sometimes do brilliant things before beying swallowed up by the noise. The kind of environment where these things can grow is something worth encouraging, even if they grow only in the dark shadows beneath a universe of flashy entertainment, seductive marketing, and weak propaganda.
posted by sfenders at 12:54 PM on July 29, 2005


I may or may not actually believe the above, but it's a hell of a lot closer to being in the right spirit than is pcturnoffdotorg.
posted by sfenders at 1:03 PM on July 29, 2005


sfenders: Usenet was easily destroyed by the unreasonable number of new users that suddenly showed up one day in 1993 or so. No doubt it was never any kind of perfect anarchist ideal, but it was certainly something different.

Not really. Studies going back into the 80s show that usenet had its own hierarchies and good-ol-boy networks that turned out pretty much as you would expect from watching interactions of offline behavior. Which is why usenet citizens found the "endless fall" so disruptive, the pecking orders with extended histories just got overturned.

For that matter, I know people researching the first mailing lists, and they found that the internet was born with the same old hierarchies. Usenet is one of the big counter-examples to naive anarchist theory. You don't need institutional power to create a hierarchy. You just need a group of people with the will to talk longer, louder, and more aggressively than everyone else.

The problem has nothing to do with Big Media, and everything to do with the fact there is no magic door to keep people's racism, sexism, language and class privelege out of their internet interactions.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:22 PM on July 29, 2005


Yes, usenet had its problems at least from the time I found it which was just a few years before the rest of the world seemed to. I guess the great majority of it was like you describe at least to some extent. Yeah, there were plenty of groups where things were dominated by social hierarchy in obvious and not-so-obvious ways. But you know, there was lots of variety. There were places, easily found if you knew where to look, where that was not the case. Such was my impression, anyway. I find such places harder to locate today. The change since then didn't just overwhelm the old order based on some kind of social hierarchy, it disrupted everything. In fact I think the kinds of communication dominated by a somewhat rigid social order are the ones that have survived best there in recent years, with that survival advantage conveyed by now having more pressure from the "outside" to oppose.
posted by sfenders at 2:45 PM on July 29, 2005


there was lots of variety.

Maybe that's all it was, really. It was easier for things left right out in the open to go unnoticed. It was easier for groups to more easily remain mostly homogenous or in any given balance for longer, and thus have less need of brutal social defenses and countermeasures against intrusion. I can think of a couple of places that resemble that, at least a little, but I'm not going to link to them. I think they survive because they are obscure.
posted by sfenders at 2:58 PM on July 29, 2005


Viruses.
posted by Mikey-San at 6:17 PM on July 29, 2005


Is this thread even about anything?
posted by angry modem at 6:23 PM on July 29, 2005


I swear to god, Shouting is actually my uncle Bruce pulling his Redneck Buddha act.

"Let me tell you: One thing I've learned, after all the shit I've seen? Thinkin' about things, worryin yourself, gettin all worked up? Gets you nowhere.

Life? It's all about just... Going out there. Gettin into shit. Livin.

L-I-V-

(dramatic pause.)

-I-N-G.

Livin."

And then the halftime show starts and he points out which cheerleader is the kind of chick that would take it in the ass.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 8:05 PM on July 29, 2005


I was chewed out on this blog a number of times for shorter posts than this.

I think this is a worthy one.
posted by troutfishing at 12:31 AM on July 30, 2005


"Hands represent extremities, both left and right"

Perfect.
You owe me a new keyboard, and all that.
posted by cheerleaders_to_your_funeral at 4:48 AM on July 30, 2005


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