Friday, December 9, 2011

What to do about the Internet?

Drawing Guy Billout, the Atlantic

Having recently spent months working with many untrained writers I suggest the debate on the Internet is rarely balanced.
For some, the only thing that matters is free speech. Some critics are upset about the sexual exploitation, pornography, plagiarism and fake presentations. Luddites ignore the benefits and the liabilities.
Still others believe our growing dependence on Google makes us addicted to Web tools, like a typewriter or a cane. If listening to Mozart and Bach can make children smarter why not this reaction. A typewriter allowed Nietsche to return to writing when his vision began to fail. Nicholas Carr, in “The Shallows,” argues that not necessarily all change will be good.
“Is Google Making Us Stupid” he wrote earlier in the Atlantic.
Hollywood and friends are trying to impose a law that will guarantee that none of their productions are used without permission.
Few care at all about the private citizens who often suffer.
The world has dealt with major changes in how it does business for thousands of years.
The Internet sometimes seems more than all the other changes combined.
There can be no doubt that the Internet does make important information more widely and easily available. This is perhaps the main reason some support it and reject draconian censorship.
Of late the tsunami of pornography on the Web as well as sexual exploitation of children is getting considerable attention. Every form of communication likely has been misused. Remember “phone sex.” Even video movies were interactive.
What can be done. Two things are not the entire answer, in my view. Accountability is necessary, research has been shown. But it is likely to be misused to benefit some. Still it is necessary. Unlimited free speech is already being overused.

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