Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Internet: the real Great Society

Instapundit links to a critique of Andrew Sullivan's "iPod" essay.

We're not "bowling solo" in a cocoon, we're linked to heretofore strangers in an unprecedented worldwide community. I wouldn't know Matt Drudge (and Monica), Glenn Reynolds (and the "Instawife"), Donald Sensing (and his Marine son), James Lileks (and "Gnat"), Tony Woodlief (and the incredible story of Caroline) if not for the Net.


Blogger Jed Madsen said...

I love the last three posts. This post is interesting because what seem like "bugs" to Sullivan are actually "features" according to Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine and the blog "The Long Tail" (http://longtail.typepad.com/the_long_tail/). He basically agrees with Sullivan in saying that things like the internet and all of the other technology that Sullivan talked about will tend to lead to more individualized marketing, programing and, well, pretty much everything. He uses Amazon as a prime example--their "people who viewed this also viewed" feature allows people to find other items that suit their particular tastes. What's more, it helps people to find items they like that they would never have found otherwise. Foreign bands, indie films, obscure books--all of these are more readily accessable. And this seems like a good thing--we don't have to accept generic products that only sort of fit our tastes. Bloggers also do this by giving us niche products that fit our needs. Worries about "echo chambers" are silly--I don't read bloggers that don't constantly expose me to new ideas and blogs are not my only source of information.
This individualization or whatever you might call it has always gone on--we are selective about our friends, our news sources, the books we read, everything. We only have a limited amount of time and we don't want to spend it with things we don't enjoy simply to socialize ourselves or whatever Sullivan thinks is important. On the other hand, there's an urge to explore the new to find other things that we enjoy that we didn't know about before. The new technologies seem to be really good at balancing those two wishes. So contrary to Sullivan's thesis, in the future, we won't be spending less time with people--we'll be spending less time with people we hate. Is that really such a bad thing?

11:37 AM  

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