Oddbill's Ello State of the World 2016
(Every year for over a decade Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky have held a several day public conversation on the internet's ur-community, The Well, to review the State of the World. They will be doing it again soon.
Taking a page from their book, I'm going to post some thoughts about the State of the World from my POV here over the next couple of weeks. I'd love to discuss or debate any of these ideas, please feel free to reply, but I'm going to post them even if no one responds at all.
Ello is my safe space where no one I don't trust in the rest of my life has found me yet.)
I remember thinking that the second most awful thing about the Columbine murders was that now that had been done, now school shootings were an option. It turns out that fear was horribly justified. But in the years since then so many more nightmarish boundaries have been crossed.
Each and every time, the internet amplifies them.
"The Media" gets a lot of the blame but really it is the internet that nurtures these horrors.
I do not have ready statistics but I'm confident the dramatic historical decline of violence continues. I am not ignorant of the hideous atrocities of history, and the ways in which they overshadow present crimes.
There is something unique in the way the now commonplace ease of global communication provides a rich environment for the weaponization of ideas with no effective checks on their growth.
I don't even think the ideas are consciously weaponized. I feel like we figured out how to remove all the friction from transmitting ideas globally with the notion that on balance that would be a good thing and I'm beginning to suspect it was not. It may have been a very big mistake. It created a global memetic primordial soup in which a small number of interlinked aggressively recursive memes are out competing the entire pool and there is no way to stop them short of pulling the plug, which will be every bit as destructive as letting the memes prevail.
There is a tiger behind both doors.
I don't really think this is a problem that will escalate to any kind of cataclysm, but it is very much the physical manifestation of the trolling problem - how do you stop agressive abusers form amplifying their pathology on a platform designed to amplify the human will?
It will be with us from now on.
At some point I suspect a lot of what the internet is will be much less free. Every government is getting better at survailing and tracking individuals on it. This is mostly seen as a negative in the circles in which we converse but maybe it actually isn't.
Maybe the rule of law as manifested in nation states that are the contemporary extension of millenia of people trying to figure out how to live next to each other without on balance making everybody more miserable is a better alternative than the troll, racist and murderer infested anarchy of the electronic frontier?
To put it another way, why shouldn't you be subject to the laws governing the geography where the people you actively hurt live?
The internet didn't replace the state as we fantisized in the 80s, it became a new continent for the state to assert it's spheres of influence. We are all both natives of the web and natives of our nations. We're simultaneously the exploited indiginous population and our own colonial exploiters.
How about that?