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It’s only a short post, but I liked this sentence: The Internet is not inherently democratic, it is a misinfo/disinfo/info cannon.


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    “ The Internet is not inherently democratic, it is a misinfo/disinfo/info cannon.”

    Long ago, we dreamed of it being the ultimate aid to democracy, privacy, and so on. Instead, it became the most effective tools of bullshit, trolling, corporate lock-in, and government oppression. Idealism vs the effects of human nature. Still don’t know how I want to react to that other than avoiding as much of the bad effects as possible. What constructive thing to do that can’t be legislated away by the next corrupt regime my country elects… (sighs)

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      The underlying assumption to “the people will be informed” has always been that the people want to be informed. :(

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        I disagree. I think we are a little spoilt, living in democracies with free speech. You are upset because any joker can set up a blog and spout nonsense. So is every dictator in the world. The internet has become invaluable in breaking down barriers between people. Yes there are stupid people out there, just as there are thoughtful people, as there always have been. But now the thoughtful people can talk to each other despite the objections of maternalistic governments. Sometimes, they can even knock sense into the stupid people. Sometimes, the thoughtful people even find out they are actually the stupid people. And so it goes.

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          Free speech covers the bullshit and trolls but not other two. Their source are corrupt government and economics + no data rights respectively. The biggest issue with them is they become unavoidable if one wants to participate socially or economically with the majority on the Internet.

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          I’ll take the unpopular stance: the Internet was better before we started filling it with average users so we could monetize them.

          When your Internet business model depends on stupid people, the ‘net is going to regress.

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            the Internet was better before we started filling it with average users so we could monetize them.

            Better for you maybe.

            If you asked the average users, I’m sure they will disagree with you.

            Then the question would be, should we have the old internet to make you happy, or the new internet to make 100 ‘average users’ happy?

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              If my method would result in the removal of 100 Youtube commentors, Linkedin spammers, or Twitter users, I dare say it would be a net positive.

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                I don’t really care for removing anything. The Internet is such an open thing, but the problem I see is that everyone is busy trying to move or to get others to move into the same direction. And as long as popularity is the most important metric, things will stay sour. Because that’s the metric that follows the masses.

                Before all of this, the number 1 metric used to be ‘fun’, and couldn’t really be quantified. Companies weren’t in front of the development, they fulfilled whatever demand their was in terms of technology, and competition was strong: It was a new network, worth exploring and building new things into. It turned all of us into explorers and adventurers. My point being that the same net still offers exactly those same things. There is a whole public side to it now too, sure. But didn’t it used to be that people didn’t wait for others to hop on the bandwagon, other than those few who joined you in navigating new territories or even build them where they didn’t exist?

                I can only come to one conclusion: the fun is still there just as always.

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              Exactly! And because most people don’t bother using services based on whether they operate ethically, we may never be able to shift the paradigm away from path-of-least-resistance services such as those offered by Apple, Facebook, and Google.

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              Idealism vs the effects of human nature.

              I’ve never been able to believe there’s anything “natural” about our behavior on the internet. From my perspective, the clear deciding factors behind behavior on the internet are always simple environmental and cultural influences.

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                Or the removal of environmental influence? i.e., does the internet turn people into jerks, or does the reality of living in a community turn jerks into people? in vino veritas?

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                  I don’t think it’s as clear cut as that. The internet will act as a cultural medium and can in some ways interact with and manipulate the environment where interactions take place but with the way the web exists now it only really makes itself apparent through input and external influence.

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              it is a misinfo/disinfo/info cannon

              Any powerful tool for information is also a powerful tool for misinformation.

              Let’s not pump all our oxygen into space because we are afraid that terrorists might use it to keep their brain alive while planning the next attack.

              Information + people != democracy. (See: Twitter outrage mobs, where stilted information doesn’t lead to greater freedom, but to more mob mentality…)

              Mob mentality is the ultimate form of democracy. Democracy i.e. rule by the people, well the people just voted to lynch you because somebody said you kicked a dog.

              People really need to know that democracy means something and it is not a generic term for “the most perfectest bestest form of government ever invented in the history of the universe”.

              The Internet has dropped the cost of dissemination to (effectively) zero.

              This is also not true. While it takes very little to put your words on the internet, to get eyeballs on it is quite an expensive task. It doesn’t take a lot of money to stand in your backyard and scream at the sky either.

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                A Twitter mob is hardly democratic. All the people (silently) voting “no, don’t lynch this person” don’t have their voices heard.

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                  Au contraire. The mob is the ur-democratic form, and in the US, the founders were well aware of the rank idiocy of the Athenian mob democracy.

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                    Even in idiotic democracies, they announce when voting takes place, what you’re voting about, and everybody gets a single pebble to toss in the basket regardless of how loud they shout.

                    When Twitter “democratically” decided to fire the dongle joker, I don’t recall being informed of the vote.

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                  Well the screaming to the sky metaphor is wrong in my opinion, simply because the internet makes it much easier to discover stuff. That guy screaming on his lawn can only be heard by his neighbours… The slim potential that people might stumble on your ramblings is worth, I think, a lot.

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                    You could conceivably get 100 people into your backyard to listen to you.

                    The point is that there’s a difference between putting stuff on the internet then thinking to yourself “billions of people could read this” and actually getting people to read it.

                    The same difference extends to yelling. You could get a hundred people to hear you, but actually doing it is quite difficult.

                    The slim potential that people might stumble on your ramblings is worth, I think, a lot.

                    A lot of lottery players would agree with you.

                    Of course big businesses disagree, because they are not spamming random blogs with their stuff on the off chance that one of them would win the exposure lottery, instead they use good ole marketing tactics like advertising and click-baity titles.

                    I tend to side with the businesses in this case. They at least get enough result to make money. The same can’t be said of lotto players.