Note — Jun 06, 2021

What the Silicon Valley Idealists Got Wrong

Nicholas Carr for Engelsberg Ideas. It’s too long, but the subtitle would have been a better title, “The internet and social media were supposed to democratise knowledge and unite the world. Things didn’t quite turn out that way.” A useful debunking of the two myths who’s impacts we are now living in: about information and knowledge, and about communication and community.

It’s these connections, or associations, between pieces of information, not the individual pieces themselves, that give depth to our thoughts. The connections form the essence of our intellect, enabling us to think conceptually and critically, to solve difficult and unexpected problems, and to make leaps of inference and imagination. The richer the web of connections, the sharper the mind. […]

The research suggests, in fact, that the opposite is true: free-flowing information makes personal and cultural differences more salient. It tends to turn people against one another instead of bringing them together. […]

[N]egotiation and compromise, a renewed emphasis on civics and reasoned debate, a citizenry able to appreciate contrary perspectives and to think deeply about complex challenges. It will require less self-expression and more self-examination.

Related → The internet is flat.

The internet facilitates these powerful, complex parasocial relationships but, at the same time flattens everything that makes the messy, human elements of relationships possible. It flattens audiences, it flattens time and it flattens a lot of nuance.