Sunday, October 4, 2009

Internet means Freedom? Or more Tyranny?

For a long time many have claimed that the growth of the Internet will mean that the proletariat can shake off the chains of tyranny and gain freedom. But is that true? Clearly there are examples where the Internet and the Web have played a significant part in the people circumventing official media dominance to learn things tyrannical governments would rather not be known. Clearly that can lead to more freedom and perhaps the ability of the proletariat to actually revolt against their tyrannical governments. But is this always the case?

Evgeny Morozov: How the Net aids dictatorships goes into this.. so ...

He's got some good points.. that it's up to the people using the Internet to use it in a given way. Just because the creator of a thing wants it used one way doesn't mean the users will do so, they may have some other use for the thing than the intended purpose. Also the powers that be have an ability to be inventive about ways of using the Internet to gather open source intelligence, or to engage with their critics in a way that defuses the criticisms.

I think at the basic fundamental level for a society to successfully revolt against a tyrannical government, the society has to take the step of kicking the bums out. That means an actual revolution, fighting in the street, etc. It won't happen automatically once we all have a blog and can post our thoughts for everybody else to read.

An example is -- if Television is the Opiate of the Masses -- World of Warcraft and other addictive Internet experiences are doubly so. In China for example World of Warcraft and other online games are so widespread that they've identified "Internet Addiction" as a disease and have treatment centers for it.

Someone on the Internet playing games is not a threat to the tyranny of the regime, just as television addicts are also not a threat to the tyranny.