The Web giveth and the Web taketh away.
I’d be the first to tell you that I love what the Web hath wrought--the ability to research, reach out, connect, create and learn in ways unthinkable just a few years ago. But I’ve also been worried for a long time about whether the Web hath rot, ah, wrought—at least in the form of bright, seductive, ever-changing screens calling to me ceaselessly from my laptop and phone. (See I’m Going Crazy, But So Are You, and Does Technology Shape Our Ethics? for just a few examples.) The price of all this easy knowledge and endless pestering may, in fact, be stupidity and atrocious behavior.
In the thoughtful if sometimes inscrutable You Are Not a Gadget, technologist and musician Jaron Lanier proposes that the losses from the Web may be more than we realize. When our background, experience and personhood are all reduced to bits and bytes; when our creative product can be ripped out of context and used (free of charge) in a mash-up; when we engage in anonymous acts of digital violence; when we fall for the line that the Web itself is becoming some kind of superhuman creature. . .