The Trouble With Sweeping Questions About the Internet

Pundits and scholars too often phrase queries that miss the point: The transformative power of any technology relies first on underlying human forces.“Can the cellphone help end global poverty?””Can Facebook promote world peace?””Can the Internet defeat Putin?”Those are headlines from some recent articles, and the questions they pose are loaded and misleading. You can tell by a close reading of the pieces that follow — inevitably, they either fail to answer their headline questions, or end up answering a different question altogether.The latest case provides a perfect illustration. “Can the Internet defeat Putin?” is the title The New York Times gave to an op-ed by Emily Parker, author of Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground.

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