We all know the internet is screwing with the human mind and spirit. But even the experts don’t know how to fix it.
Lanier and Williams: the experts. One, like, invented reality and the other invented virtuality. Or whatever. Google them, if you give a shit. The big problem with how the internet and social media are messing with us now is that the people responsible for implementing it are not . . . normal.
Even as scientists or engineers go, what these guys do is ineffable. And even as I/we can not grasp the essence of what they do, they build the framework – the culture – in which we are all forced to live. These are truly end times.
Lanier has semi-left Silicon Valley, although he still seems to work for Microsoft in some capacity. Williams has left and become a philosopher.
Lanier suggests that we quit social media – and Google, as best we can – because that’s the only language – $$ lost eyeballs $$ – that Facebook and Google understand. They’ll then be forced into a better way of making monstrous profits than monetizing our attention and our clicks ‘n’ likes.
Williams suggests that, among other things, we might want to consider a PBS/NPR version of the internet, a (government?) subsidized branch of the internet in which there would be non-profit search engines and social networks. Maybe it would work. Maybe it would suck. Maybe it should be like C-SPAN?
None of his other notions, other than that we might need a total reboot of the internet (!) or of Facebook (Like!) in order to get them off the economic models that make us addled addicts, stuck with me.
Neither of these guys thrill me. These books both strike me as too little, too early.
We still don’t know wtf the internet does to us. We still don’t know wtf it does to young, developing minds. Perhaps it makes certain that they don’t develop at all. Or, more likely, that they develop the way Facebook wants them to develop.
I would kill for a Lewis Mumford or a Christopher Lasch right now.
If you’re technically-minded and socially-concerned, read these books. Maybe.
If you’re really socially-concerned, read other books, blog, and grow African violets.