Is the internet too large?

// Posted by on 03/23/2014 (6:47 PM)

In Ron Rosenbaum’s article, “What Turned Jason Lanier Against the Web?” he talks about Jason Lanier and his beliefs that the internet is becoming to vast. Lanier helped create Web 2.0 and was one of the inventors of our current digital reality. He used to be a large supporter of the internet however he now wants to “subvert the “hive mind,” as the web world’s been called, before it engulfs us all, destroys political discourse, economic stability, the dignity of personhood and leads to “social catastrophe.” Lanier views the internet as this database that everyone and their mom wants to be a part of and socially locked in.

Everyone today is on the internet. No matter what form, we are all digitally dialed in. It is the way our world works now, but do you think the internet is becoming too large? Is it so big that we cannot control it anymore? Lanier believes that if the internet continues to expand the repercussions could be catastrophic. He fears that social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are expanding at too fast of a rate. I agree with Lanier. I believe that the Web is getting out of control and if the internet is not given restrictions the results could be incredibly harmful.

After doing some research, I came across an article about a riot that was first constructed on Facebook. Two men, ages 20 and 22 were both sentenced to four years in prison due to the casualties of the riots. It is an example like this that justifies Lanier’s reasoning that the internet is becoming too large. People are using the Web to create more violence. But what step needs to be taken to prevent future crimes? I think Facebook needs to somehow create a code that can read your post before it is uploaded. If there is any sort of violent language in the post or comment than it cannot be uploaded. I do not know how that would be created but I think it could prevent many more hateful crimes. Do you agree with Lanier and his argument or do you think the internet should continue to expand? Even if we tried to control the internet, is it just too late?

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Rachel said...

I think there’s an important part of this issue that is a largely conceptual question: is the internet too big to control at this point? To that, I think the answer is, largely, yes, because even highly-regulated sites like Facebook often have problems controlling what is posted.

The other part of this question, though, is one of whether it should be regulated. On the one hand, there are some pretty big arguments, not just about whether information wants to be free but, in this particular case, about free speech in general. It’s something we as a society value. However, there are also points to be made about your limits to free speech…is making a Facebook post that incites a riot the digital equivalent of yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theatre (which, by the way, is a form of free speech that is not constitutionally protected).

I think it’s an interesting question to toss around, and I’m glad you posted about it.

// 03/23/2014 at 8:05 pm