January 5th, 2009

PK Icon

Linkharvest: "The Internet Is Bad For You," Says Ignorant Luddite. "No Get Internet!"

There are some people who imagine they are saying something important and/or controversial when they are really being morons. Such is the case of Andrew Keen. Keen likes to think that his luddite view of how the internet is killing culture and everything else by unleashing individual autonomy is (a) original (I can recall reading variations on this back when Silicon Snake Oil was published in 1996, and Cass Sunstein did a better job on the dangers of self-selected information in "Me.com"); and, (b) controversial (saying stupid and ignorant things does not make you controversial, just ridiculous).

Normally, I tend to ignore Keen's rantings as I suspect humans have done since the first hominid tried to tell his cavemates that fire was too dangerous to use and who needed hot food or light at night anyway? But my capacity for allowing idiocy to go unremarked was struck by Keen's piece that the internet will destroy our society if Obama unleashes it via the stimulus package.

The centerpiece of Keen's argument appears to be that we will have a greater mess by giving every crazy a chance to put his or her ideas out there, as opposed to the happy world of broadcasting where only the handful of people with FCC licenses got to put their ideas out there for millions to consider and all others were drowned out by the massive electronic megaphones of broadcasting outlets and major newspapers. Keen also thinks we can better keep society saved by keeping broadband access expensive -- apparently to keep it out of the hands of the peasants.

As I say, Keen's arguments are not new. We can find them when Gutenberg invented the printing press, or when Queen Anne decided to stop licensing them as royal monopolies. The authors of the Constitution had their own ideas on the subject, however. We find it embodied in the First Amendment and the idea that "the cure for bad speech is not censorship, but more speech." But even without this U.S. view of the First Amendment, which I must point out is not shared by countries such as Canada which hardly qualify as oppressive dictatorships -- Keen's ideas exceed my idiot meter capacity. Does anyone really think that we can neatly roll back the internet, like Canute holding back the tide? We can make it more expensive, we can make it harder to access, we can screw it up in a lot of ways. But the notion that we can keep crazies off it by failing to fund its deployment strikes me as contrary to observed fact.
PK Icon

Getting Ready for GaFilk

As I am going via Las Vegas for CES, I need to pack everything tonight. Quick questions for them what has been or is going.

1) Should I pack a tuxedo for the formal dance, or is a suit ok? Or is nice garb better?

2) Anybody have anything in particular they want to hear?