Friday, May 27, 2011

Online Spheres

In the textbook for the computer class I’m taking, I came across this quote yesterday: 

The Web was built by millions of people simply because they wanted it, without need, greed, fear, hierarchy, authority figures, ethnic identification, advertising, or any form of manipulation. Nothing like this ever happened before in history. We can be blasé about it now, but it is what we will be remembered for. We have been made aware of a new dimension of human potential.—Jaron Lanier, virtual reality pioneer

And today I came across this: “Computers are power, and direct contact with power can bring out the best and worst in a person.”—former computer criminal turned corporate computer programmer

And this one: If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside.—Robert X. Cringely, PBS computer curmudgeon [yes, that is how he is labeled in the book]

That third one is mostly for amusement. But the other two got me thinking about how the Internet is a macrocosmic experiment in free and/or anarchical societies. There’s a lot of good and bad that happens. But the freedom allows for so much creativity that as problems arise some of the solutions are invented. It’s impossible to imagine this happening with some layer of central control deciding what can and cannot be done.

In a true civilization, the people choose to self-correct, or to find ways to stop a perpetrator from attacking their lives, liberty, and property. In anarchy the self-policing is limited to only the civilized, and they are prey to the savage. But because of the freedom, the civilized are able to continue to find ways to thwart the attacks. Thriving is indeed taking place for civilized people engaged in the most inventive exchange of creativity ever.

I’m still thinking about the parallels, the ideas we can glean for going upward in freedom, economics thriving, and civilization. Upward needs to be the direction. And thriving in all the spheres is the goal. And the way to get there is something other than imposing southern hemispheric (on the Spherical Model) central planning.

1 comment:

  1. The history of the internet is interesting, but to say that it was built without need, greed, advertising and the like is simply not true. It started as a military procurement project to make the military procurement process more efficient. The contractors loved it and set out to set up their other clients in similar processes. From there it ballooned outward eventually reaching the end consumer markets. The need for more faster, more efficient procurement for our troops led to faster, more efficient markets in other areas. All of the actors in this were acting in their own self-interest, not because humans have suddenly become enlightened. It was a need, fed by greed, fear of being left behind, began with the military as the omnipotent dictator, and was shoved down the throats of the first consumers by mandate. Sorry Lanier, humans are and have always been self-interested, that is not a new dimension.