Just read the interview with guy who coined the term ‘virtual reality’, Jaron Lanier. In my humble opinion:
(1) He’s got it wrong about Wikipedia lacking in personality, it covers subjects I don’t expect to find in a more officious publication; it has a discussions section; it’s an encyclopedia for christ’s sake!
(2) I agree with his criticisms of the so-called ‘wisdom of the crowds’, not because crowds don’t have wisdom (oh god forbid I am too stupid to see that..) but because there is a tendency to aggregate, aggregate and aggregate. And then spin that as some kind of golden moment for the individual. Well it is and it isn’t. The danger is kidding ourselves that social software is some how pushing the frontiers of radical individualism. People do that. Technology doesn’t, but I guess what Lanier is getting at (I’m slow but catching up..) is that its the wider embedded culture of nerdism which doesn’t help.
(3) But that nerd culture itself is rooted in the underlying psychology we all unconsciously adopt – that we are essentially the same (and here I’m stealing from radical humanist critique in the manner of Eric Fromm etc). Capitalism won the war because it is expert at giving the superficial impression that we can all express ourselves through our consumer choices, our democratic system, our lifestyles for god sake. But underlying that is an unspoken agreement between people that that is as good as it gets, that we are deep down too scared to really be human, to really express ourselves. What Fromm calls ‘fear of freedom’ if my memory serves me right. And I can see the current nerd culture supposedly and idealistically making us all individuals when in practice its challenging very little in terms of mainstream culture, if not actually ‘updating’ the culture in the trend of giving us the tools to all be individuals, when deep down (god I am repeating myself) we all feel and act on the assumption we are the same. Well, that’s the ‘totalist thinking’ that for me is at the root of it. Kind of funny really when you see if for what it is. Hey.
OK, rant over, I’ve got better things to do.