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?