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On cock-eyed web optimists, chaos and other miscellanea

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Here is why the internet is not a wild-eyed visionary’s wet dream but an absolute necessity.

…the systemic flaws are far from minor. They apply the constraints of
the physical to our ideas and knowledge, and they give rise to a system
of authority that likewise limits knowledge. The old system cannot
manage the volume and complexity of information in the new world.

Absolutely and David Weinberger just put his finger on the source of frustration with the old system and the slow pace of the ‘reboot’ for people like me. It is less about a utopia and a dawn of the new age, whatever that may be, and a lot more about getting on with things, life, knowledge, business, conversations in more free ways. Or perhaps that is a utopia judging from so many spectacular misunderstandings of this simple point…

THIS IS ABSOLUTELY A CLASS STRUGGLE! But this isn’t just the union
wanting a seat at the table. This is the revenge of the have-not nerds.
But they don’t just want access to the library. In the name of
"democratization," they want to raid it spray-paint cans in hand. They
want to pee on the carpets, tag the walls and carry out what loot’s
left over.

Oh dear. So the Cluetrain crowd are the have-not nerds. Their ideas have resonated with the likes of Google, YouTube and many of those making their living online. Whatever you may think of them, they are certainly not the have-nots. Nerds possibly. If you are lucky, for they come up with some pretty cool stuff.

We already have access to the library and it has proven inadequate. We want to add to it and make it easier to find stuff. That is neither democracy nor chaos. Interestingly, David deals with ‘chaos’ in his post:

Overall, I like what’s happening, but not because I love “chaos.”
Rather, the new principles and processes allow us to get so much more
order — and meaning — from of the oceans of information we’re
generating.

as well as in a post by Johnnie who makes a great point in favour of it.Well, almost. :)

People often use words like chaos to refer to, for instance, some
people disagreeing with each other in a meeting. As if it will be like
the streets of Paris in 1968. The orgins of the word suggest that
actually chaos was the preamble to the creation of the cosmos but the
creative potential is not what people usually mean.

Given my political views (as little government interference as possible) and my views on systems and structures (I cherish being called a corporate anarchist) I have to field questions about chaos and anarchy on a regular basis. My answer is that just because people don’t recognise the familiar structures and predictable order in the internet’s workings, it does not follow there aren’t any. What some of the ‘cock-eyed web optimists’ have realised is that the existing flawed systems can be supplanted without having to first destroy them. At least that’s what’s in it for me

The good news is that for the first time in history
the internet is a place where we can create viable alternatives without
having to blow up the existing ways. The internet has provided a
relatively undisturbed environment in which
people can play and build stuff that works – for them as well as
others. They don’t have to waste time undermining or dismantling an
already dysfunctional system to show how new ways could work. They can
experiment instead of having to ‘fight for the cause’. They can get on
with chatting, connecting, networking, squabbling, playing with ideas and technology that are now scaring the media and
businesses. Bypassing a system by building a better one elsewhere is proving to be far more powerful than
blowing it up.

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2 Responses to “On cock-eyed web optimists, chaos and other miscellanea”


  1. Amanda Chapel
    on Jun 4th, 2007
    @ 13:57 pm

    But the point is that you (as in zealots plural) are not creating viable alternatives. You’re disintermediating and replacing value with crap. Even the porn industry is now complaining for Christ’s sake.

    Bottom line: It’s pointless to debate with specifics with someone who calls themselves a corporate anarchist. I am only reminded of the Woody Allen quote, “It’s nothing a fist full of Prozac and a baseball bat couldn’t cure.

    Sincerely,

    Amanda Chapel
    Managing Editor
    Strumpette


  2. mandrill
    on Jun 7th, 2007
    @ 22:58 pm

    Ouch, there speaks someone who’s job depends on the status quo, or believes the crap that the old media spouts about the internet.

    I have to admit to being one of the wide-eyed ones I’m afraid. The internet is a breeding ground for possibilities. Some of those bred may not be useful, pleasant, or constructive. Due to the nature of the internet, however, the useless, unpleasant, and destructive things people do on it will be naturally selected into marginality, if not extinction.
    The Internet is built on connections, more and more people are connecting to the interesting, useful, and constructive things, the old media just picks up on the nasty things that happen online, just as they do in the real world and this serves to make it look like its full of teenage pranksters, vandals, idiots, monomaniacs, peadophiles, satanists, conspiracy theorists and all the rest of the weirdoes that make up humanity. Its not, the internet is not populated solely by these people, just the same as the real world.
    The internet could give humanity a collective voice, not in an organised or coherent way but as a byproduct of all the people talking at once about all sorts of different subjects. We are the internet, it is what we make it.

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