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Internet Backlash


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Internet Backlash
Topic: Society 8:00 pm EST, Dec 13, 2005

There is a stupid notion going around that the news media would be better off if anyone and everyone got to make a contribution to it. Blogs and podcasts are examples of this and reader-generated electronic "newspapers" are beginning to spring up. People who should know better see this as democratizing the flow of news and information...

I have been concerned about this new, online "citizen journalism" becoming the source of more disinformation than truth, a concern that actually extends to most of the Internet.

Some people in the media are absolutely giddy about the opportunity to pile a complete and total indictment of the entire Internet on top of this incident. Oh my god! People can express their own views without control from the 4th estate! How will we ever know what is true anymore?!

Check out the headline on this article:

For all its wonders, the world-changing effects of the digital civilization contains a slimy, anarchic undercurrent of democracy run amok.

There is so much that is broken about the perspectives being offered around this incident:

The idea that Wikipedia and encyclopedias are the same kinds of things and their value should be judged by the same criteria.
The idea that Wikipedia must either be 100% reliable or completely useless for any purpose.
The idea that people are not capable of critical thinking and should not be responsible for doing it.
The idea that the alleged connection to the Kennedy Assasination would have been viewed as credible by anyone who isn't nuts.
The idea that internet anonymity is a bad thing.
The idea that "supporting freedom of speech" is compatible with "demanding accountability." (Haven't you people ever heard of the Federalist Papers?!)
The idea that the highly reliable totally awesome 4th estate should be the arbiter of the truth, when in their articles about this VERY incident they have repeatedly twisted this guy's voluntary resignation from his job (which he had to do because of the pressure THEY would put on his employer if he hadn't) so that it appears as if he was fired. "Man looses job over wikipedia prank..."

The biggest problem here is the idea that a national press campaign and the threat of lawsuits are a reasonable way of dealing with a problem on a publically editable wiki! This notion is so irrational that one suspects John Seigenthaler of taking advantage of the opportunity because he wanted to launch a broder attack on the Internet. You gunna sue me for suggesting that, John? Go ahead. Make my fucking day.

Internet Backlash

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