Thursday, October 4, 2007

There is no Dana only Zuul

Zuul (a 'real-life' Sumerian god of destruction) being the evil omnipotent internet and all things digital, of course.

Is the obscure Ghostbusters reference throwing you off? Remember in the movie when Bill Murray's character, Dr. Venkman, goes over to Signourey Weaver's apartment and finds that Dana Barrett is possessed? While Dana is in the throes of possession he asks to speak to Dana to which she replies: there is no Dana only Zuul.


Well, the point is that I've finished that Keen book, and have to say that while it raised some interesting and valid points, for the most part I found it to be self-serving sensational hyperbole with an elitist spin. The internet is Zuul.

Keen seems to have a decent understanding of today's internet technology, but only to the point where it serves to bolster his arguments. He falls victim to the same behavior he describes in his book in telling how people only go to blogs that mesh with their ideologies: because they're biased and looking to have their own views reflected back which allows them to reify their contentions or creeds.

I'm assuming this is why he crafted his own blog, but I find it ironic given that he mourned the fact that so many blogs (and splogs) litter the ether, but then comes to the conclusion that he's mature and responsible enough that he can pepper one more on the digital landscape.

With the nature of the internet and digital technology changing so quickly, one major issue he had with regards to privacy are now moot with search companies like leading the way by being the first search engine that will allow users to opt-out of data collection and have that information deleted within a few hours of their searches. Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo are all following suit so that search history can either be eliminated or completely anonymized.

For the most part, he highlights cases where Web 2.0 and the digital age have hurt those who are either lax or uninformed with regards to the permeable and ubiquitous nature of the information economy. He highlights the woes of Wikipedia, and how it's detracting from efforts exerted by experts.

His solutions are mostly common sense:
  1. become better informed on Web 2.0
  2. if you don't like something you see on the internet, then don't visit it again
  3. parents need to rally in order to shield their kids from bad inter-neighborhoods.
  4. if you have a router, you can configure it to restrict access to sites, or you can use software to monitor your child's usage.
  5. don't put personally identifying material on the web if you're concerned about privacy
Bottom line: the tools and information to protect yourself are there.

Now I can finally pick up something interesting from the library, Cormac McCarthy's The Road. For my son, I've got one from my childhood: Island of the Skog.

1 comment:

Gozer said...

The Internet is Zuul? Well, So Are You!