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Re: [tlug] You are Not a Gadget, by Jaron Lanier

Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:

Charles Muller writes:

 > Lanier discusses the technical and cultural problems that can grow out
 > of poorly considered digital design and warns that our financial
 > markets and sites like Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter are elevating
 > the ~wisdom~ of mobs and computer algorithms over the intelligence and
 > judgment of individuals.

Elitism.  All that's happening here is that peasants have been
empowered with broadcast power equal to that of the elite.  OK, so if
you want to find some nuggets, you have to sift through a lot of

I guess my strong positive reaction to Lanier's critique--especially that of Wikipedia--is based mainly on its resonance with my own experience. My central project during the past fifteen years has been that of the creation of an online (TEI-based) reference work, the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism. This is a scholarly collaborative project, wherein all users must contribute some way or another, and all entry nodes are fully accredited with <sense resp="author's name">.

Unfortunately, since the development of Wikipedia, we continually find content from our work being anonymously aggregated into Wikipedia without citation, and thus a continual battle of vigilance must be waged--plus the fact that the anonymous--and thus difficult-to-trace and unassailable Wikipedia entry always comes to the top of the page in the web search.

Lanier is the first Internet Culture thinker that I have come across who has identified the seriousness of this problem in terms of its endangerment of intellectual creativity, diagnosed its causes, and warned of the further potential damage that might occur. I think that his points have great relevance for anyone seriously involved in the development of individual, creative, intellectual online resources.



A. Charles Muller

University of Tokyo
Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, Faculty of Letters
Center for Evolving Humanities
Akamon kenkyū tō #722
7-3-1 Hongō, Bunkyō-ku
Tokyo 113-0033, Japan

Web Site: Resources for East Asian Language and Thought


Mobile Phone: 090-9310-1787

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