I guess the question that occupies my mind a lot these days is:

Can we build a healthy, positive, life-affirming Internet?

I feel like large parts of our Internet infrastructure are toxic to mental health and social freedom and were designed that way on purpose, because the system seeks money, and you get more money by controlling people than by allowing them to flourish and reach their full potential. This has always been capitalism's big problem (and socialism's too).

@natecull The internet isn't inherently good or evil. That's determined by what people do with it. If you want to create an internet that can't be used in bad ways, I don't think that's possible, at least not if you want it to be useful at all.


"The internet isn't inherently good or evil. That's determined by what people do with it. "

No, I don't subscribe to that view of technology at all.

The idea that technology is "value-neutral" is itself an idea (and ideas are themselves technologies), and it's an idea that I don't think is value-neutral.

I think every technology has a shape. It imposes that shape on us, making some acts/thoughts easier, and others harder.

Our tools shape us. We should care about what that shape is.


To take one axis of many by which to measure and describe the Internet:

Our computing environment can be decentralised, or centralised.

Each of these options might not be strictly describable as 'good' or 'bad', but they are certainly *different*.

If everything you say online is filtered by a central authority (as in China) ... then that shapes society in a certain way.

If everything is filtered by Apple, that is also a shape.

If there is random chaos and viruses, another shape.

@natecull @mansr Technologies definitely aren't good or evil for the most part, eg a knife can be used to murder, hunt, prepare vegetables, save lives in surgery. In some cases the type of knife is specialised but even then, surgical tools have been used for evil based on their design not in spite of it.

I vastly prefer decentralized tech but centralized isn't evil; each offers a trade off. Centralized is simpler for users, and faster to develop.

@byron @natecull On the centralised vs distributed topic, consider the public library. An institution largely regarded as good, is is nevertheless without a doubt a centralised solution. A distributed "library" would mean asking random people in the street if they happen to have the book you're looking for and if you might kindly be allowed to borrow it. I don't think that would work very well.


@mansr @natecull Totally! Although also, tech oscillates between more centralized (mainframes, proprietary clouds) and more decentralized (PC revolution, early smartphones) as it changes.

Libraries are centralized by being a government- run single system, but they're also federated. I can request a book at my local branch from any in the city and return it anywhere.

With tech change, maybe we could see P2P libraries with individuals! But probably not.

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