Something worth worrying about

Re-reading a classic blog post from two years ago by Tom Steinberg I  thought the following paragraph was uncannily prescient given recent events:

The most scary thing about the Internet for your government is not pedophiles, terrorists or viruses, whatever you may have read in the papers. It is the danger of your administration being silently obsoleted by the lightening pace at which the Internet changes expectations.
The following quote from Kevin Kelly in What Technology Wants re-inforces this:
The fiercest critics of technology still focus on the ephemeral have and-have-not divide, but that flimsy border is a distraction. The significant threshold of technological development lies at the boundary between commonplace and ubiquity, between the have-laters and the “all have.” When critics asked us champions of the internet what we were going to do about the digital divide and I said “nothing,” I added a challenge: “If you want to worry about something, don’t worry about the folks who are currently offline. They’ll stampede on faster than you think. Instead you should worry about what we are going to do when everyone is online. When the internet has six billion people, and they are all e-mailing at once, when no one is disconnected and always on day and night, when everything is digital and nothing offline, when the internet is ubiquitous. That will produce unintended consequences worth worrying about.”
What I worry about is the way people in positions of power still don’t seem to understand the internet or take it seriously.
I am always available if they need a hand ….

 

6 thoughts on “Something worth worrying about

  1. Hi Euan, this is indeed what I have been worrying & writing about for the last 8 or 9 years.As I commented in the Parents, Children & Wikileaks thread; It's not that people in authority are "more immoral" than they used to be, It's not that stable governance (of states and businesses) doesn't legitimately require things like management of information and confidentiality, even secrecy; It's that the "system" doesn't seem to know how to respond, how to organize itself in these days of massively and immediately connected communications at the level of the individual.Good democracy and governance is not just mob rule, where freedom equals free-for-all, crowds and clouds, There are institutional checks and balances for good reasons …. it's just hard for any "institutions" to "react" to the mob being thus enabled. Trust is at the root of both problem and solution IMHO.

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  2. Hi EuanI am getting increasingly concerned about what might develop in the Wikileaks saga. Whether or not Julian Assange is guilty of the sexual charges that are being laid on him by the Swedes, it certainly looks a bit "convenient" that this has been used as a vehicle to discredit him and extradite him to Sweden.If he is seen to become a martyr to the cause of "free" speech, particularly if the Americans manage to extradite him from Sweden on espionage charges, a backlash from the "online mob" is inevitable IMHO.I seem to recall that there were some 30,000 users involved in the recent DOS attacks on MasterCard Visa and paypal. They could not defeat the Amazon infrastructure however, But supposing that army grew to 3 million or 30 million because of a perception that Assange was being victimised or scapegoated? Such an army of Internet anarchists, properly organised, could wreak online havoc on the world's finacial and governmental instututions in ways that we may not be able to forsee at the moment. Once gathered and coordinated into common action, the mob will then always be an online force to be reckoned-with.The Americans are absolute masters of NOT thinking-through the consequences of their bullying actions (eg: Iraq and Afganistan). They might well taste the blood of Jilian Assange but in so doing will awaken a sleeping rotweiller that the world has never witnessed before.

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  3. Good comments both. While I agree that society establishes laws and constraints for good reasons it is in the interests of those who abuse them from positions of privilege to paint those who abuse them from positions of disadvantage as an unruly, undifferentiated and unthinking mob!

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  4. Heh heh ! Absolutely. This is why I see trust (and integration) as key. If we simply see two "sides" each rhetorically trying to paint the other black, we are headed for lose-lose.Come back Mary Parker-Follett. You know her work ?

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  5. Hello Euan,A thought provoking post. Balancing the public's right to know against the necessity of quiet/private diplomacy. It'll be interesting to see how it all unfolds and ultimately impacts Assange . . . One can only assume he pulled the trigger with his eyes wide open.Diplomatic revelations aside, I suspect the release of corporate communiques will achieve increasing prominence going forward as the decisions taken by multinationals have as much, if not more impact, on our lives as those made by elected officials.

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