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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The New Digital Age

Recently Brad Acker asked for comment on Google+ about an excerpt from

Schmidt, Eric; Cohen, Jared (2013-04-23). The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business (p. 4). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.




He quoted this:


  • The Internet is the largest experiment involving anarchy in history. Hundreds of millions of people are, each minute, creating and consuming an untold amount of digital content in an online world that is not truly bound by terrestrial laws.... Never before in history have so many people, from so many places, had so much power at their fingertips. And while this is hardly the first technology revolution in our history, it is the first that will make it possible for almost everybody to own, develop and disseminate real-time content without having to rely on intermediaries. ~Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen


and asked if people agree. I responded:



  • The political frame which calling the spirit unleashed by the internet "anarchy" evokes points to some of the pitfalls in both our understanding of the phenomenon and our discussions on what structures we need to support in order to ensure that the Internet survives the multifarious efforts to control or at least dilute its power. Anarchists are forever tainted with the bearded bomb-thrower image of European and thus European immigrant martyrs and activists of the 19th and 20th centuries. The attempts of Anonymous and their cohorts to "protect" the internet with vandalism and aggression reinforce this association. A better analogy, I suggest, is Anarcho-syndicalism and the kind of worker- and community-led democratization efforts Gar Alperovitz documents and advocates for in his new book "What Then Must We Do?" 
  • The anarchy of the Internet must be supported by governmental and community based agencies and businesses, so its supporters must abandon the purity of anarchy's extremes to collaborate and cooperate with those who protect its free nature and eschew the tactics of the bomb-throwers as we struggle against the forces that would transform the Internet into a mere tool for propaganda and commerce.
  • In the education world where I live, this means supporting open source and the Creative Commons, and opposing the profiteers who want to transform our connected learning devices into mere delivery systems for the delivery of "content" into seated students who earn their overlords ADA without the expense of actual teachers.