The actual State of the World for 2016 is underway over on The Well, you should absolutely go check that out, it's already cooking.
Bruce Sterling hits on the thread of troll culture I've been trying to tease out so far and as usual he does it much better than I did:
"Putin knows there's no way to justify Crimea, so he's got a
two-fold strategy. A, just hang on until the adversaries get tired
of complaining and sanctioning, and B, undermine political will with
just an amazing tidal wave of Kremlin-troll bullshit. Just use
cheap digital media to lie, distort, deny, dismiss, around the
clock, methodically, endlessly. The point to trolling is not to win
the argument. It's to muddy the waters so much that nobody can
This is the heart of it. The web, it seems to me, despite decades of optimistic graveyard whistling about global interconnectedness enabling the increase of freedom and wealth worldwide, has done a much better job of facilitating the reversal of democratic societal gains by empowering trolls.
Climate Change Denialists - trolls
Religious extremists - trolls
Racists - trolls
Most Popular News Publications - trolls
Stock Market players - trolls
Venture Capital industry disruptors - trolls
All of these concerns thrive by slinging so much unrelenting bullshit into the stream of information that it becomes impossible to organize coherently against them. They thrive by exhausting their opposition. They don't need a victory. Their victory condition is the status quo. They benefit when informed attention and regulation can't be focused on them.
The structure of the web enables this strategy. I feel like each of the destructive forces I've listed above have been made more powerful by the fact of the web. I have a hard time pointing to any benefits that offset these tangible evils.
Again, I don't really want the web to be less free in the sense of accessible to everyone. I want it to be less free in the sense of people being accountable for the lies and offenses they commit using it's architecture.
But I have no idea how to achieve both.