posted Oct 01, 2000

Contact: How Much Is Enough? Technology & Sociology10/1/2000; 10:37:09 AM This is not a news article, this is a brief essay by me.Dave recently shut down discuss.userland.com, and I think it no coincidence that today (don't be surprised if it gets pulled into a DaveNet without me noticing) we get a highly personal statement of interests, and what amounts to a ringing condemnation to the entire tech industry (because it takes corruption on both the part of the company and the press to offer bribes for good press).Discuss.userland.com probably would have flared up over this; I'm reading between the lines but is it really a stretch to say that Dave might be more comfortable this way and thus better able to say the hard things?Last year I too experienced the river-of-flame effect. When you can't step foot on the internet without seeing 10 flames aimed personally at you, it's tough, even if there are a 100 supportive e-mails (and that doesn't happen often). It took me most of this year to get over my active aversion to checking my e-mail. It creates a strong self-censorship effect, as you grow an aversion towards saying the controversial things... unfortunately, these are the things that need saying.Step back a bit and look at this in general. As the Internet moves us closer together, enabling new ways of communication with new speed, it also makes it impossible to escape from anyone. Larry Niven wrote some stories dealing with the practical consequences of instant teleportation to effectively anywhere on the planet, and it's much the same problem.Are we as a species ready for this? I don't suggest that we drop the Internet, but we may well need some more time to deal with the consequences then the normal march of technology will give us. We probably need to develop better ways to communicate with each other that don't give themselves so naturally to antagonism. LinkBack is sort of an attempt at that, albiet a poor start, and my Weblog Communities is related to why I think they are a candidate for such a form of communication.Anyhow, I encourage you to step back and think about this, and keep an eye out for possible solutions, because nobody really knows. We're all learning.(p.s.: I sort of work in a journalism sense here to so here's a full financial disclosure: I'm a poor college student and own nothing. Thank you for listening.)

 

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