If I can make one person think once more about one issue, I've done all I can. Maybe I take things too seriously...or maybe you don't take things seriously enough.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

All Along The Watchtower

Hello again. Excuse the extremely long absence: I've always been a fairly flighty character, and as a result I've taken what could be considered an 'extended unannounced leave of absence' from blogging. All of that said, a comment by a friend at a party has caused me to get back into the whole thing, and so the few of you still paying any attention to it will get the dubious pleasure of reading my craziness once again.

Let's launch straight into it: what is it about internet communities that are so appealing to people? I'd love to say that I've been pondering this issue for days, but frankly, it has only recently occurred to me as a question thanks to Shamus Young at Twenty Sided. That said, after watching the long video (embedded at the end), it had raised some very important questions.

It has always been an important part of my 'knowledge' regarding self that Human Beings are inherently social creatures. This is not to say that we are collectivist, like ants, but that we rely on our social support structures. We are not truly Human Beings without the important and complicated frameworks of modern society. Humanity is more than simply a body. Don't assume that I subscribe to some notion of the 'soul': instead, I refer to the Terry Pratchett idea of human beings requiring stories to remain human. In his words, Humanity is where "the falling angel meets the rising ape", and he has something of a point.

The problem increasingly comes in a modern society with so much interconnectedness that the individual is increasingly being eroded. Simply using Google allows you to potentially find out an awful lot about a single person, and the more skilled you are at using it, the more you can find out. In a world like this, what does the word 'privacy' mean? After all, using what you find out on the internet, you could quite conceivably find out more that isn't strictly within the public domain.

On the other hand, the internet community provides a different kind of privacy: privacy by numbers. While a person isn't strictly anonymous, it is a challenge to pick one person out of a crowd. And the internet is the biggest crowd ever gathered: hundreds of millions of people all using the same tools, for different ends. This presents one of the greatest defenses against intrusion into your privacy: probability. It's impossible to watch everyone, so you may not be being watched.

Anyway, my task for you, readers is simple. I want you to watch the video, and I want you to decide what you think, both of YouTube, and of online communities in general. And then I want you to hit the comment button, and tell me.



1 comment:

AJB123644 said...

I have to say You Tube is a good thing. Having a huge resource of people sharing their moments, ideas and views from all around the world for all to see is amazing. It gives you a very good look into their lives and we can sometimes relate to what they say and give them help.

Online communities again are a good thing. Hell Steam is awesome and without it I wouldnt have met the J-Server or everyone in it.

The internet can of course have its bad moments such as pedofiles etc but at the end of the day as long as you are careful it can be great fun!


P.S: Linkage to my Blog which I have also linked from mine to yours: http://ajb123644.blogspot.com