For those of you who like talking about what you do, here is an abridged version of a piece by Prof Jeff Jarvis in today's Guardian where he answers some of the common complaints made about the internet (link to full article on next post):
THERE'S JUNK ON THE INTERNET. True. There's junk everywhere (even on bookshop shelves). The mistake is to think that the internet should be packaged and perfected, like media. It's not media. Blogger Doc Searls says the web is instead a place where we talk and connect. John Perry Barlow called it "the new home of the mind." The internet is life. Life is messy. Get used to it.
MOST PEOPLE WATCH JUNK. True. But "most" is a measurement that mattered only in the mass media economy, which is over. In our new mass of niches, we each may seek out and support what we like. Yes, we've all watched our silly flaming cat videos, but we've also watched moments of genius made possible by the internet. Why concentrate on the crap when brilliance is only a click away?
ANYONE CAN SAY ANYTHING ON THE INTERNET. True. And give thanks for that. That cacophony you hear is democracy and the free marketplace of ideas.
THERE ARE INACCURACIES ON THE INTERNET. True. But the web enables us to correct our mistakes - because nothing is finished there. With a link or a comment, we can also correct others. And thanks to Google, we can look up facts from many sources in an instant. I'd say the internet has given us a greater respect and facility for facts and has made us as a society more accurate.
WIKIPEDIA HAS MISTAKES. True. So does this newspaper. Both are better at making corrections than books and encyclopedias. Wikipedia, like the web, has enabled an unprecedented collection of knowledge, passion, creation, and collaboration.
PEOPLE ARE RUDE ON THE INTERNET. True. They're rude in life, but perhaps more so online, thanks to anonymity. But we all know who the idiots are. The smart response is to ignore the stupid.
THE INTERNET HAS NO ETHICS. True. It no more has a moral code than a telephone wire, a car, or a knife. We who use it bring the ethics and laws we live under already.