Whoo baby. I’m listening to the Brian Lehrer Show right now, as per my usual morning routine, and it’s a discussion between a couple of guys debating whether or not the Internet is evil. Ok, well, you get the picture though. Anyway, one of the guests is Lee Siegel, author of Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob. After reading what the blurb on Amazon had to say – "Siegel explores how the Internet affects culture and social life,
particularly the psychological, emotional and social cost of high-tech
solitude. Arguing that the Internet’s widespread anonymity eliminates
boundaries, Siegel discusses the half-fantasy, half-realism of online
personas." – I’ll admit to kind of tuning out, because come on people, do a little research, huh? There’s quite a bit of published research and good thinking from the past few years that have (successfully, in my opinion) challenged these views.
I tuned back in, though, when I heard the following from Mr. Siegel (I’m paraphrasing here): "…we need to move away from the wisdom of crowds idea… everything bad is good for you – if the Nazis had won, those would be on their best seller lists" Whoa! Apparently, Mr. Siegel coined the term blogofascism a couple of years ago – there’s something of a description of the origins of the debate here (albeit from a blogger on the other side of the debate). Unfortunately the links to the relevant columns written by Mr. Siegel in The New Republic redirect to TNR’s current home page.
Aaaaanyway. I was just kind of shocked by the very strong sentiment behind the Nazi remark. I absolutely believe in questioning popular wisdom; there should be critical stances vis a vis the role of the Internet in shaping culture. I see that in my data, as well – there’s a tension between college students’ uptake of popular technologies, and a certain amount of pushing back against a dominant discourse that says you must keep up and be always connected. But, man – Nazis?