World Wide Mush: how the internet has gone off course

In his new book, “You Are Not A Gadget,” online pioneer Jaron Lanier explains how the Internet has gone off course; a chorus of voices makes everything flat — and scaryAll too many of today’s Internet buzzwords — including “Web 2.0,” “Open Culture,” “Free Software” and the “Long Tail” — are terms for a new kind of collectivism that has come to dominate the way many people participate in the online world. The idea of a world where everybody has a say and nobody goes unheard is deeply appealing. But what if all of the voices that are piling on end up drowning one another out?There’s no escaping collectivism in our online world. If you search about most any topic online, for instance, you will likely be directed first to Wikipedia, a collective effort. Google Wave, a new communication tool that is intended to supplant email, encourages you to blur personal boundaries by editing what someone else has said in a conversation with you, and you can watch each other as you type so nobody gets a private moment to consider a thought before posting. And if you listen to music online, there’s a good chance your listening will be guided by statistical analysis of Internet crowd preferences.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703481004574646402192953052.html

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