Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Reflection on "Technomania"

Summary: The internet revolution is here, according to Steven Levy, and it means people have the ability to reach farther and expand their abilities and personalities farther than ever possible before for the ordinary person. But this means clutter, and this means transitions, some of which will require time for people to become fully accustomed to. Such technology is decentralizing, and needs to be keep in check, balanced out with order from those in power, who will certainly fall if they’re unable to do so. Also discussed are the issues of privacy, free speech, education, and reality and their current roles in the internet.

Response: I enjoyed Levy’s practical and objective observations on the status of such important subjects and their potential altering with the arrival of the internet.
The whole concept of order and chaos battling out over the internet was one I suppose I hadn’t given much in-depth thought to until now. I was pleased to see that Levy was able to break it down in such a way that he didn’t give any sort of approving nods to either the holders of power nor to the teenage anarchists, but rather showed the clashing relationship and the potential that lies in wait. In my own opinion, I have difficulty believing that the internet does not have boundaries that a user is forbidden to step into. This thought sort of merges with the whole privacy vs. surveillance argument (as well as his observation of the free speech battle) Levy touched upon; investigators can track down the information they need to bust down on some unknowing child pornographer. It would not surprise me if it became nearly impossible to hide from the government in the folds of the internet.
The last paragraph, detailing Negroponte’s theory of atoms and bits is absolutely fascinating when applied to how dramatically the very way of human life might be changing is unsettling, something I never truly contemplated. I still believe that a life void of human contact is unachievable, and will be until we become mentally enslaved by machines, but the idea of co-existing between the reality we know and this “second dimension” of cyberspace is something I believe is already taking place.

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