The Dark Side Of The Web, Ctd

A reader writes:

You have quite clearly mischaracterized Morozo's argument.  Morozo's point is that technology does not INHERENTLY lead to democracy.  It may well be that technology helps enabled people with reformist and democratic ideals to organize and communicate.  That is not the same thing as what many people presume, that technology will free people.

Morozo's presentation actually missed the most devastating argument available to him, which is the juncture of two of his other arguments.  Repressive regimes may have a favored lever of control, but they certainly have no compunction about using any and every tool available to them.  The most devious thing that a regime like china can do is to *both* cultivate blog networks and subcultures which agree with the regime, *and* use the networking property of the internet to identify and shut down networks which are critical.

In doing so, they can claim that there is a legitimate and independent community which they had no hand in creating (literally true), and the predominance of those voices will eventually develop a self-sustaining critical mass, if they are the only voice available to hear.  This is about incubating your own virulent crazies by protecting them from counter-arguments.  

This is a modus operandi that should look familiar.  It's about controlling the means of distribution, and you can still do it in the age of the internet.

In fact, that is exactly what the USA is trying to do to combat Islamic extremism.  They are trying to identify and target extremist networks online, and, in the middle east, prop up and promote organizations and politicians who purport to have ideals concordant with our own.

Technology is just a tool.  We, the users, provide its values.  There are many aphorisms that are appropriate to this situation.  First, that the strongest cage is the one which you build for yourself.  Second that Technology may change the terrain upon which we do battle, but the real war is waged within the hearts and minds of men.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Just In