Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An original thinker rethinks the Internet

One of the signs of maturing in the Internet and new media is that we now are getting serious, thoughtful approaches to what is happening. One of the best came yesterday (sorry, I was too busy to post it then) in the New York Times when John Tierney wrote about Internet pioneer Jaron Lanier's new book, You Are Not a Gadget, a "manifesto" against "hive thinking" and "the glorification of open-source software, free information and collective work at the expense of individual creativity."

This is significant because Lanier's one of the original thinkers who, in the '90s, was correctly anticipating the growth of ideas on the Internet, believing that "open source" idea-sharing would lead to a revolution.

Unfortunately, Lanier writes today, that revolution has taken some ugly turns, promoting not free thinking, but "hive thinking," where we find others who think just like ourselves and reinforce our views to the exclusion of new ideas.

The Internet fosters the spread of information, but we've seen all too much misinformation spread and, Lanier believes, we've become much more willing to forgo original thinking in favor of just adopting technology as a cure-all. And I apologize to him for overly-simplifying his arguments. Read the post, then read the book.