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Do We Need A New Internet Or A New Society?

I spend most Sunday mornings, if I am lucky, reading.  I consume numerous newspapers, magazines and blogs, some online, some in print.  I clip articles and write blog posts. I tweet questions and send emails to friends about what I read.  Mostly, though, I just sit and think about what I am reading (and yes, I know how that sounds).

I spend most Sunday mornings, if I am lucky, reading.  I consume numerous newspapers, magazines and blogs, some online, some in print.  I clip articles and write blog posts. I tweet questions and send emails to friends about what I read.  Mostly, though, I just sit and think about what I am reading (and yes, I know how that sounds).

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The topic might be war, or politics, baseball, or business.  Sometimes the issues are very personal and local, other times they are global (read: far away) or just hard to relate to.  On any given Sunday there could be a dozen articles that I pull aside for deeper study, while the next week’s reading might yield only one or two (or, gasp! none).

This morning I have been thinking about how technology impacts our society. Pretty general, I know, and certainly a theme that comes up a lot for me – given what I do (internet strategy).  Why this subject, today?

In the New York Times, John Markoff, posits that the infrastructure (if you will) of the internet has evolved to such a place that “there is a growing belief among engineers and security experts that Internet security and privacy have become so maddeningly elusive that the only way to fix the problem is to start over.”  Read it.

Over in the Boston Globe, Darke Bennett argues that the internet, or more specifically the content that flows through it, has reached a new level of intensity.  He writes “One of the results has been the advent of a new culture of online heckling and shaming, and the rise of enormous cyber-posses motivated by social or political causes – or simple sadism.” Read it.

These are big issues, and they pose an even bigger question for me: Do we need a new internet — one that is more secure, more constructive, and more reflective of the society we want?  Or, do we need a new society — one that is more secure, more constructive, and actually reflects what we hope the world we live in would be like (instead of what it actually is like)?

I won’t try to summarize the articles, you should just read them for yourself.  I won’t try to answer the questions, you should consider the implications of this issue for yourself.  My hope in writing this, instead, is to encourage (or give you an excuse) to spend the time each week, whether its on Sunday morning like me or some other time or place, to read and consider the big issues facing the world, or your world, or really just whatever interests you. And if you ever want to share them, I’ll be here to listen and consider along with you.