Did the Internet Deliver?
Did the internet deliver exactly what was promised?
We have had the internet for decades, and everyone thought it would usher in a new era of knowledge sharing and democracy. Few predicted that it would so effectively facilitate the death of quality journalism and the rise of populism and fake news. [i won’t cite the person since this was a throwaway line and I don’t want risk a dogpile]
As far as I can tell the internet delivered exactly what everyone agreed it would back in the 90s, everyone has a voice now and a direct means of publishing their thoughts (even if their facebook friends have learned not to read it). Vastly more info is at our fingertips and we can factcheck stories in an instant for lies, but also omissions and burying of the lead, and affective manipulation.
And as a result we’ve realized the “intellectuals” and “adults in the room” have been lying to us and manipulating us the whole time.
“Weapons of Mass Destruction” was in 2003, well before the internet could be said to have turned the journalism into clickbait.
The media pretty much let Clinton off the hook for the Wag the Dog scandal, which included bombing Sudanese pharmaceutical factory for seemingly no fucking reason (seriously they had called in advance to offer US inspectors free tours).
And even good old Walter Cronkite often couldn’t help himself from manipulating events instead of reporting them.
At this point I don’t understand what people think the internet has failed to deliver. Unless “Democracy and Knowledge Sharing” where always an either witting or unwitting euphemism for “what i believe and those idiots over there don’t get”, then i don’t see how democracy and knowledge sharing haven’t occurred vastly in excess of what everyone expected.
Individual citizens have vastly stronger voices now such that even organized campaigns struggle to shut them up (witness chan culture), furthermore their taste for longform deep dives into obscure topics has been shown to vastly exceed even our most panglossian expectations.
Whatever one may think of Jordan Peterson (he always struck me as kinda grasping), the idea that one of the most prominent and controversial figures of the age would be a dissident Jungian Psychologist who the entire intellectual establishment has tried to distance themselves from, but whose influence only grows do to the popularity, amongst the lay people, of his dozens of hour long lectures on the psychological basis of western mythology....well that would have been unthinkable in 98.
Beyond this its not clear that “fake news” has had any real effect for any definition of “fake news” that translates to “factually false and manufactured reporting” instead of “reporting with an editorial spin I don’t like”.
Indeed even the Archetypal examples of fake-news don’t really work:
Alex Jones has been doing, pretty much the same comedy bit, since he was an AM radio personality in Austin, he simply isn’t a creation of the internet (as revealed by his 90s X-Files aesthetics).
And the QANON community pretty-much broke the Epstein story. If you had told me in 2016 as I sat there exasperated with my conspiracy theorist mother, that in 2019 we we wouldn’t be debating WETHER a blackmail and sex-trafficking ring implicated former Presidents, Prominent Financiers, Teir One academics , Journalists and the Royal Family, but rather how far it stretched...it would have been unthinkable.
Whereas in terms of purely manufactured stories manipulating our democracy, well they weren’t coming from the internet, they were coming from Rachel Madow. Ya it wasn’t the internet that propagated the idea the president had colluded with foreign powers to “hack the election” only to drop it as soon as everybody realized there was no evidence, it was the “intelligence community” and the legacy media.
I don’t know, I can barely remember not having the internet, maybe the 90s did expect some glorious conscienceness raising that never occurred... but from my perspective looking at Cyberpunk and 90s “break the story no one wants to hear” sci-fi....well the Internet is one of the few sci-fi predictions that totally delivered.
What do you think? am I missing something?