Monday, January 28, 2008

The Net can take away as well as give

It is increasingly clear that the internet is going to be a transformative moment in human history as significant as the printing press. In 1450, a decade after Johannes Gutenberg invented it, even the most astute watchers could have only begun to squint at the changes it would spur. In time, it made popular nationalism possible, because linguistic communities could communicate with each other independently, in one language, and form a sense of community. It dissolved the medieval stranglehold of information held by the churches and Kings, making it possible for individuals to read the Bible for themselves – and to reject violently the readings used by authority to strengthen its rule. Communications technologies rewire our brains; they make us into a different species.

An interesting article in today's Independent by Johann Hari in which he compares te internet power to that of the Gutenburg printing press but it comes with a warning that the new power that we all have in communication and knowledge can be taken away at the whim of the mighty corporations

Tomorrow's World will become a corporate-controlled world, with inequality built into the cables that connect us all.

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