TED Conversations

David Wees

Mathematics Teacher, Stratford Hall

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Is the current direction of the web Democratic?

While I agree with Roger that his vision of the future of the web is where we are headed, I would like to argue that it is wholly unDemocratic. The control panel version of the Internet is disturbing, because it seems to me that we have become willing to sacrifice the ability to control what we view and interact with for the convenience of other people making that decision for us.

Facebook and Google's algorithms to filter what we view based on our preferences means that, through the algorithms they have written, corporations have more control over the information we receive than ever before. The definition of fascist corporatism (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporatism#Fascist_corporatism) is "management of sectors of the economy by government or private organizations." In an information technology age, management of information is management of the economy, and we are letting private corporations manage entirely too much of our information.

We know where the road of fascism leads us. We need to take a step back from that road and find a new path.


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    Nov 13 2011: I have been using the Internet since the early 1990's for research into all aspects of life. I love being able to find information and welcome the widening of the web to enable communication and information sharing. I have been passionate about seeing technology as an enabler to opportunities for life and learning. During the 1990's i felt that it was going to make great changes in the world and lead to great things. So what do I see know? a society controlled by social networking where there is the belief that through all the amazing games technologies we will learn better, we a free to study what we want when we want, to buy what we want globally and to have freedom of speech about anything and everything.

    I fall flat at times when I see how much time young people are sitting on their mobile devices and other technology - the technologies that are meant to encourage their growth and look at all the opportunities that are passing them by. I see all the unemployment caused by a growth in jobs for a few and wonder about what this will mean in 10 years time. I am on Facebook, twitter, linkedin and I look at it all and think - has this really enriched my life?

    To answer the question directly - yes the aforementioned are democratic in that we have signed up to their conditions without force but I do feel that I am a lemming going over the edge and not knowing why. I know they filter, I know that the market is funded by advertising and that at certain times of the day the consumer is more willing to buy products than other so it is my 'choice' as it is the masses whether to buy or not to buy. I always wanted to have 'my world' online which means I really appreciate that when i go to Amazon it recognizes what i had last time and offers me products. What Facebook and Google are doing do not seem new to me. We have enabled them to create the filters by sharing so much with them.

    The bigger question must be what in this brave new world is democracy?

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