Thursday, May 6, 2010

You are not a Gadget - Jaron Lanier

Censorship, the hive mind and a changing meaning of friendship:

A responder to the previous post asked what Lanier thought of censorship.Lanier does not explicitly deal with censorship, but he does discuss the growth of a "hive mind" among the young. This hive mind presumably practices censorship since the thoughts of the individual will be overcome by the will of the many. Lanier is anti-hive mind and pro individuality.

At the same time, he is very much against open source software, which could be construed as censorship. It is very important to him that individuals get paid for their ideas. Giving other access to these ideas only after payment can be viewed as censorship.

The commentor to my previous post apparently views anonymous posting as a way of speaking freely in an environment where it is dangerous to openly identify oneself; it is a positive way to communicate. Lanier sees anonymous posting as the beginning of the hive mind, where people eventually hound someone to destruction but do so anonymously.

This viewpoint seems to have been shared by the British historians outraged by Orlando Figes; although Figes' comments appear to consist mostly of calling these people dull writers, they still viewed these anonymous negative comments as harmful and even dangerous. I myself view anonymous postings as the modern equivalent of complaining after a few beers in a bar. Today it is actually safer to complain anonymously online since otherwise you might find your drunken rant on Youtube with links sent to your co-workers in their email. Is the ability to share too easily with others drivng people to the safer anonymity of on-line anonymous posting?


Anonymous said...

All anonymous postings are not created equal. They are as diverse as the personalities of the posters. Although some anonymous egomanics cannot see someone else getting the lime light, are dangerously unconscious of their dark side, or are simply under-developed or as dumb as a dictatorship or a democracy (aka dictatorship of the narcissists) can make them. But such a personality profile does not exhaust the infinite variety of anonymous folks. Some just want to feel secure when they express unpopular unconventional unorthodox thoughts because they might have read the history of religions and politics of our species. One has to live before one can criticize.

Oscar W. said...

I'm willing to grant anonymity to permit honest discussion without fear of retaliation or punishment. I do draw the line at using the cloak of anonymity to hound someone unmercifully.

Anonymous said...

Concealment is not always the aim in anonymous writing. Great authors have used “anonymity” with a variety of motives as John Mullen notes in his book, “Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature.” Some wanted to create “mischief” such as Swift and Scott, and some simply speculated “out loud” while fear and diffidence get the better of others. Lewis Carroll did it for privacy rather than concealment reasons while others did it out of modesty rather than treason. Modest women authors were long identified as “A Lady.” And by the way, have we finally discovered who wrote the works which go under the name of Shakespeare. ‘Mischief,' 'Modesty,' 'Women Being Men,' 'Men Being Women,' 'Danger,' ‘Confession’ 'Mockery and Devilry' -- The freedom to be anonymous makes the human drama far more interesting.

Anonymous said...

The anonymity phenomena has something to do with the art with which humans can hate so cleverly without being caught….Its so universal, there must be a gene behind it. Poet Ogden Nash perhaps knew of it or maybe carried it himself.

Love is a word
That is constantly heard
Hate is a word
that is not
Love, I am told
Is more precious than gold
Love, I have heard
Is hot
But hate is the verb
That to me is superb
And love, just a drug
On the mart
For any kiddie from school
Can love like a fool
But hating, my boy
Is an art