The Evil Hyperlink and the Ensuing Mob

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
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Mr. Jospeh Rago, an assistant editorial features editor at the Wall Street Journal, doesn’t like blogs. In fact, he likens the world of blogs to an unchecked democracy that is in need of checks and balances. Mr. Rago’s problem is in thinking that only someone who has pushed a pencil in a candy-ass journalism program can actually discuss the news like it’s “supposed” to be told. Says Rago:

The reason for a blog’s being is: Here’s my opinion, right now.

The right now is partially a function of technology, which makes instantaneity possible, and also a function of a culture that valorizes the up-to-the-minute above all else. But there is no inherent virtue to instantaneity.

I suppose that’s why the WSJ – and other papers all over the globe – run their printing presses all night in order to get the latest news out each morning? And I suppose that’s why Mr. Rago became a journalist in the first place? To buck instantaneity?

Traditional daily reporting–the news–already rushes ahead at a pretty good clip, breakneck even, and suffers for it. On the Internet all this is accelerated.

He means that, on the Internet, people can choose to write and others can choose to read or not read – that nasty little thing called choice. On the Internet, one can avoid the state-run newspapers, state-run television news, state-run radio, and all those “professional journalists” who don’t dare bite the hands that feed them. What a great thing.

Of course, once a technosocial force like the blog is loosed on the world, it does not go away because some find it undesirable. So grieving over the lost establishment is pointless, and kind of sad. But democracy does not work well, so to speak, without checks and balances. And in acceding so easily to the imperatives of the Internet, we’ve allowed decay to pass for progress.

What a pompous jerk. It’s safe to say, I think, that Mr. Rago is one of these self-important, Luddite misanthropes who views the unwashed masses as messing up the path along which he brings his “greatness” to the world. For it’s the masses making their own choices, and they can choose a zillion alternatives to Rago’s drivel. This is truly unbearable! Finally, he says:

The participatory Internet, in combination with the hyperlink, which allows sites to interrelate, appears to encourage mobs and mob behavior.

Internet technology and blogs are making the paper journalists irrelevant, and the territorial, old gizzards such as Rago still continue to bemoan the loss of their precious advantages that disappeared along with the rise of online ideas. The Internet, however, is an exercise in individualism and free choice, not democracy. When surfing the Internet, no two wolves and a sheep are voting on what dinner is going to be. At least the sheep is free to roam and not be eaten.

Now, one can imagine what Rago would say about the that “mob” of free choice for the masses known as Wal-Mart? Surely, instant toilet paper at 89 cents for a 4-roll pack, along with an instant coupon bringing an instant discount, has no inherent virtues.

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