QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Wed 11th August 2010, 10:20am)
It really is a puzzle. I've been watching it now for a decade and the trend is no longer deniable. Dubya Cubed, the soi-disant “WorldWideWeb”, is like a small but very peculiar fishbowl, a hermeneutically sealed microcosm where you can watch the advance of civilization running in reverse.
It's a definite phenomenon — it's gone beyond obvious where it's headed — all that remains is to sift the cause.
Very tempting to agree, but I divine a problem. To assess that something has got worse (aggravated of quality ) it is necessary to ensure that the something is quantitatively unchanged to a degree that does not make comparison of the former state with the current state inappropriate.
In this case I suggest that the character of the activity on the WWW has changed so drastically in the last decade (or two) that comparison of the former state with the latter can’t be made in a way that can usefully allow the definition of the cause of apparent retrograde civilisation. The greatest change in character of activity on the WWW has come about through the increase in the number of participants http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
and the catering to the interests of those participants by multiple propagandists of commercial, political and religious persuasions.
Early participants in the WWW may be considered to have been other than the average of the human population in terms of education, preparedness for critical thinking and acceptance of regulated forms of communication. As the levels of participation – particularly in passive participation – have increased, the net level of education, preparedness for critical thinking and acceptance of regulated forms of communication, can be expected to have adjusted to something close to the global population average. A further complication is the net increase in language forms used, both formal and idiomatic languages leading to a developing ‘babel’ effect and a consequent apathetic response of participants that communication on the Internet need not be anything more than shouting loudly to be sufficiently ‘heard’.
Once this background ‘noise’ of ‘babelism’ has been addressed, I’d suggest that any actual civilization running in reverse phenomena that can be identified, are effects more widely spread than the WWW, and that ‘internet stupidity’ is a symptom of broader social and political pressures, and not in themselves functions of the WWW. In that sense I’d identify Web 2.0 as a retreat from liberal Techno-Sociological advances in favour of an assertion of petty passive consumerist conservatism, in the face of multiple anxieties following from global perceptions (population movements, global climate, global trade etc), dissemination of which the WWW has greatly assisted. Web 2.0 is (or is host to) a closing down of what otherwise is simply too unbearable – 24 hour immersion in 6 billon lives – it necessarily requires a backtrack from ‘civilisation’ and an embrace of ignorance.