READ Part 1: History and Progress of Information
Absolute Power, Absolute Freedom and How the Internet Changed Everything
Largely silent for centuries, the masses rose for the first time in the Western countries in the 19th century, as a result of the enormous increases in wealth and standard of living. More and more people were becoming literate and books were getting cheaper. Long held down by their unelected masters and despised as ignorant peasants, the masses now began to show a voracious appetite for ideas.
After the upheavals of the liberal and socialist revolutions of the 19th and early 20th century, the proliferation of ideas was made even cheaper with the invention of mass communication. Radio and TV made it possible for ideas to reach enormous audiences at an incredibly low cost. The old power players recognized this and attempted to use it to further their own interests, rather than those of the community at large.
The advances of the preceding centuries had given the elites the potential to wield power in a way that had never been possible before. The elite control over the means of mass communication allowed 20th century tyrants and oppressive regimes to restrict, by force, ideas which conflicted with their plans, and bludgeon their populace into submission by bombarding them with propaganda. Absolute power over ideas had become an uncontrollable Frankenstein.
Even in very recent years and despite the protests of the masses against propagandistic outlets, the so-called ‘free media’ of Western democracies routinely censored inconvenient truths and ideas, and the government continued to exert stringent controls over what was accessed by their constituencies.
And then the internet came and changed everything. Today, billions of literate people can share ideas with one another and work together to achieve mutual benefit. The costs of proliferating ideas have plummeted. The barriers to entry have sunk to the bottom. The scale on which ideas are being created, distributed, molded and mutated by a never before seen number of participants constitutes a kind of ideological progress that is a first in the history of mankind.
And, most importantly, the power players no longer control what we must think. The internet belongs to those who use it, those who create the ideas, those who provide the content and those who absorb them and walk away as richer and more knowledgeable people. Censorship still exists (and the elite is doing its best to gain more control over the internet while you are reading this piece), but never before has it been so ineffective.
The Future of Humanity
So, what will the effects be of the digital networking of our world? The truth is that no one can say for sure, as this is the first time anything like this has happened.
Never before has the human consciousness been extended to incorporate the collective wisdom of billions. Never before have the rich and powerful had such little control over what we may think and who we may communicate with. And never before has it been so clear that it is not up to the nation state, or tribal leaders, or elected strong men, or unelected bureaucracies to fix the world’s problems. No, it is clear that it is up to us, the people, the consumers, the giant multitude of peers in a huge, interconnected world.
The internet has not only connected us all in a way which allows us to make progress on an unprecedented scale. It has also exposed those who stand in the way of true progress as the villains they truly are. In recognizing the importance of ideas and social progress, we must take a stand against those who want to censor our thoughts and impede our long strides towards humanity’s greatness.
Monday, 02 July 2012 14:24
The Internet Revolution Pt 2: How the Internet Changed EverythingWritten by Marquis Davis
Published in The Internet
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