Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Internet in Our Society

Many praise the internet as the greatest phenomenon to occur to mankind. As I also share this opinion, for the longest time I've also felt disappointed on how the internet has impacted humanity. It's actually been a continuing paradox in my mind where the internet is the best thing ever, but at equal times the worst thing for people in our current society. Since our class revolves around information technology and the internet, I'm sad about feeling so could have been caused by reading some of Ted Nelsons opinions. Ultimately I can't get it out of my head, so this rather negative things about the internet is what I'm going to write my blog about.

I should state that the negative things are not in the internet itself but rather in the people that use the internet, therefore it's back to the "humans are bad but some are good" argument or theory that presents it self in every aspect of human life, whether politics or entertainment. Here's my opinion on humans being bad with the internet. There's a lot to cram in, so let's just take away the obvious evils and focus solely on the technical side of the internet and computers.

I'll begin with the founding fathers: Vannevar Bush,  J.C.R. Licklider, and Douglas Engelbart all envisioned something that would facilitate the access to human knowledge and information, but most of all, be able to share this information. Early in their writing/thinking, they've either said it, or we can derive that, they meant this initially for the elite few scientists and researchers that really needed this information and to share it, for peer review or future improvements. Which makes perfect sense, they're the thinkers and researchers that bring about technology and human advancement. By "elite" I don't mean they're better or smarter than most of us, but rather that they've chosen quite a noble profession to help humanity. Later on, they've fancied that this information would be available for all mankind to benefit from. Noble, and truly great. Their visions can be seen at work now and it is inevitable to ignore the impact the internet and computers have had on mankind. The biggest thing right now off the top of my head is the role the internet played in the political events in Egypt and elsewhere in the world. Work has become more efficient and certainly life has facilitated and this "Globalization" was possible because of the greatness of the internet, to say the least. Just like the founding fathers of America were elite, they were forging something for the average man, and now we have the noblest nation and constitution that has ever existed, in my utterly biased and prejudice opinion.

But I did leave one guy out of the Benjamin Franklins and Thomas Jeffersons of the internet world, and that is Ted Nelson. I guess in a way he has inspired my pessimism. All you have to do is Google his name and click on any link, most all those pages will have a quote of his that...unfortunately, sum his character up; which is,
"most people are fools, most authority is malignant, God does not exist, and everything is wrong"
From an optimist point of view, it is sad that this intriguing enigma of a person leads his life buy this four principles...but in the back of his head, he knows there's plenty of truth in that quote. Let's take out the God thing, that always leads to arguments that can't be proved right or wrong...and um...let's take out the authority out of that, too...because that will lead to the recent craze of conspiracy theories that have swept America since September 11. So that leaves us with the base that most people are fools, and the consequence that everything is wrong. I can't help to agree more that most people are fools, and let's emphasize that MOST. Any writer or author that wants to keep a decent occupation has to always say things not even from an unbiased point of view, but even a point of view that satisfies all. In conventional terms "sucking up" to the people. With that in mind I will say how there's some great people out there that have done so much we all have the potential, yada yada. All these is true. But we can't deny the vast majority of people that just don't contribute much to humanity, and just live life wasting others hard work. They're everywhere.

Now before I get lynched, I'll have to emphasize that I'm an extremely positive and optimistic person, and through my positive thinking and actions, I've lead a successful life and continue to be happy. REALLY.

Now back to Nelson, if you read his history, as an amateur psychologist we can derived that he might be a frustrated individual and the above quote is a reflection of that. Compared to the noble pioneers of Bush and  Engelbart, he's the egoistic pessimist. However, there's truth there. The hard work of many of these internet and information visionaries is being laid to waste by these mindless internet operators. Cutting aside the truly negative things on the internet like racist pages and the overwhelming amount of pornography sites more than anything else on the web, the negativity of the internet is right there. Right next to you at the computer lab or at cafes. The people that spend countless hours on Farmville on facebook and the likes of mindless, zombie things to do in the web. Humans are so naively given into pretty pictures and colors. There's so much useless stuff on the internet, perhaps there's more useless things than useful ones. 

Sure facebook, twitter, and pictures can certainly benefit humanity, but humans are just not aiming to. People have to be nurtured into things. If never taught manners they will not develop them on their on, and as a society as a whole, these norms are hard to develop. Think of the brutality the previous centuries considered normal. Yeah. Therefore, the average internet user is either an older person lacking higher education, or a young person who has grown up wasting their time with the internet. Even though a scholarly lifestyle will completely turn that internet usage an 180 degree, there's still only a fortunate few that attend universities. The result is all the negativity of the internet caused by ignorant users. People just don't know any better. To describe this negativity and to vindicate good or bad internet usage--as I my self and many scholarly peoples play flash games or video games form time to time--would require a college level research paper...and I've already written to much. I'll leave it up to the scholarly public that reads this to fill in the blanks.

And every public will have the whiners: Those who consider this thoughts blasphemy. Mainly because they're in denial and just enjoy their indulgence in life-wasting too much. Hardly any individual would find a balance of work and play in life, which leads to all this negativity in the internet, not because the internet is bad, but because people them selves are just...unproductive.   


  1. Your opinion that people are the ones who decide what technology eventually does for us (or against us) is a refreshing and unfortunately minority view. I do agree though, at least until the first Terminator comes banging down my door to convince me otherwise o.o

  2. Thank you! I was expecting the comments on these to be critical and negative. You're absolutely right about the point of view of the minority, most would just bash me for it!


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