Like others who have been on the Web from its early days, Lanier thinks the place has “lost its flavor.” Perhaps homepages in the mid-’90s did have a folk-art quality to them, though one heavily dominated by Simpsons and Star Trek references. Perhaps our regimented Facebook selves have made things more vanilla. Perhaps you did stumble down more idiosyncratic paths of knowledge before Wikipedia dominated the top Google search results. But these are the kinds of nostalgic observations that are ridiculous to anyone young. The Web hasn’t lost flavor; you’ve lost flavor. What Samuel Johnson wrote about his hometown holds true for the Internet: “No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
Lanier and Dyson were on PBS Newshour last nite (1/4) remarking on the big developments in Tech for the last 10 yrs and making not very persuasive predictions for the future. Maybe someone else can mine some gold in the transcrpt, but I thought these issues could have been better presented to the TV audience by other gurus of the internet. Both Dyson and Lanier looked harried and bemused to be on network TV, and what they seemed to think was important, got lost in the PBS Q&A format. Neither they nor the third panel member, a Stanford Prof. mentioned Google,its meteoric rise, and its looming presence, “astrtide the world like a colossus,” to quote another olde English observer of the human condition.Maybe Ken Auletta should have been included, or the noble convenor of this worthy blogsite, so that the segement would have had some zing, instead of just looking like a visit to nerd central, with cool images of my hometown(SF) in the background.
The Wall St Journal today(l/13) has a very positive and insightful review of Lanier’s new book: You are Not a Gadget, (Knopf)which, inter alia, cites the discussion about Slate’s review on Slashdot.com as confirmation of Lanier’s thesis about the low intellectual weight of most internet chatter. The reviewer, U of Tenn Prof Glenn Harlan Reynolds, himself author of An Army of Davids:How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to beat Big Media,Big Government and Other Goliaths, a goliath of a sub title, but one which humbly applies to the growing mob chattering against the GBS goliath.