The internet started out as the Information Highway, the Great Emancipator of knowledge, and as an assured tool for generating a well-informed citizenry. But, over the past 15 years, that optimism has given way to cynicism and fear — we have taught our children that the net is a swamp of lies spun by idiots and true believers, and, worse still, polluted by commercial entities whose sole aim is to have us click to the next ad-riddled page.
Perhaps our attitude to the net has changed because we now see how bad it is for knowledge. Or perhaps the net has so utterly transformed knowledge that we don’t recognize knowledge when we see it.
For philosopher Michael P. Lynch, our fears are warranted — the internet is a wrong turn in the history of knowledge. “Information technology,” Professor Lynch argues in his new book, The Internet of Us, “while expanding our ability to know in one way, is actually impeding our ability to know in other, more complex ways.” He pursues his argument with commendable seriousness, clarity, and attunement to historical context — and yet he misses where knowledge actually lives on the net, focusing instead on just one aspect of the phenomenon of knowledge. He is far from alone in this.
With a trial about to begin, lurid and alarming details of the billionaire’s condition and the scheming around him continue to emerge. Many questions will arise in the courtroom—and control of CBS and Viacom could ultimately hang in the balance.
Anyone who's lost a family member knows the feeling of unreality that follows. Psychologists call it "denial," but it's something more than that — it's a sense that you're not really there, that you're living in an alternate world, that the pain you're feeling can't possibly be real. Grief is a powerful thing, and it can temporarily turn people into walking ghosts.
Or, as Dana Cann writes in his debut novel, Ghosts of Bergen County: "This was life: you're here. And this was death: you're not. And then you're here again, haunting some stranger. And none of it matters."
How, for instance, does one disentangle ego from moral action? When does kindness shade into selfishness, and does it matter if it does? At what point does thinking you know what to do become arrogance, or hubris?