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Jaron Lanier Rants Against the World of Web 2.0 231

Posted by timothy
from the cue-up-disinterested-erudite-analysis dept.
hao3 writes "In his new book, You Are Not A Gadget, former Wired writer Jaron Lanier bemoans what the internet has become. 'It's early in the twenty-first century, and that means that these words will mostly be read by nonpersons,' it begins. The words will be 'minced into anatomized search engine keywords,' then 'copied millions of times by some algorithm somewhere designed to send an advertisement,' and then, in a final insult, 'scanned, rehashed, and misrepresented by crowds of quick and sloppy readers.' Lanier's conclusion: 'Real human eyes will read these words in only a tiny minority of the cases.' He goes on to criticise Google, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, open-source software and what he calls the 'hive mind.'"
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Jaron Lanier Rants Against the World of Web 2.0

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 04, 2010 @08:51AM (#30639586)

    I didn't read the article.

    • by happy_place (632005) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:13AM (#30639736) Homepage
      You know this is just a stunt to get someone to read his article. Well, we of the internet generation will not be duped so easily!!!
    • by Sockatume (732728) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:21AM (#30639790)

      Indeed, if web 2.0 leads to content being scanned, rehashed, and misrepresented by crowds of quick and sloppy readers then we're way ahead of the curve. Go Slashdot!

      I do wonder how many of his concerns are actually unique to web 2.0, and not common to the social use of the web in general. Maybe I should read it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tezcat (927703)
        I wouldn't call them unique to the internet. Paper journalists bemoaned the TV news as a bite-size summary of real news, and then as a torrent of summary when 24-hour news networks rolled around.

        In fact, weren't there plenty of people complaining about the growth of first the printing press and then mass-production novels and comic strips? Writers of all stripes seem to have a notion of the 'sanctity of information'... or at least the authority of their opinion.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by marcosdumay (620877)
      Nobody did. If we could just make a bot to check if the sumary matches TFA...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rishistar (662278)

      I didn't read the article.

      no probs, i put the summary up as a twitter post.

    • by Chrisq (894406)
      I think it is our duty not to read the article but to comment on it anyway. If we do that we will be proving his point of view correct. If we all read it carefuly and comment knowedgably on what it says then his theory will be first, it [i]will[/i] be well read by real people. You know sadly he has come across the self-destructing article: "Hardly anyone will read this". It is bound to be either largley unread or wrong.
    • by Znork (31774)

      Ok. It's actually a review of the book in question. And to sum up the review: Lanier feels the same way about creativity as most people do about hot dogs. You'd rather see the finished work than the million steps between. The earlier process didn't show these steps of inspiration so you could imagine things were more revolutionary than evolutionary.

    • by maxume (22995)

      Some nerd is angry that the world is changing the internet more than the internet is changing the world.

    • by Jondor (55589)
      This is slashdot.. not reading the article is the norm..
  • by suso (153703) * on Monday January 04, 2010 @08:51AM (#30639596) Homepage Journal

    Lanier, being someone involved heavily in the music scene, should know that this isn't the first time music has stalled out. Back in the early 20th century, the classical world of music didn't know where to go, which is what led to atrocities like atonalism and serial music. I love nearly all kinds of music, but 12 tone rows really try my patience. By the late 19th century composers had exausted most of the possibilities with "academic" type of music thinking, forms like Ragtime became popular and it wasn't really until the arrival of early Jazz that it obvious where to go. Thus began an era less rooted in rules. Now we've nearly exhausted all the possibilities of this ruleless era of music and someone (Like Gershwin) will need to show us the way to another era in music. Its interesting that both musical "stallings" have happened around the same time as revolutions in technology. The first one at the height of the industrial era and this one at the height of the information era.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dkleinsc (563838)

      Back in the early 20th century, the classical world of music didn't know where to go, which is what led to atrocities like atonalism and serial music. I love nearly all kinds of music, but 12 tone rows really try my patience.

      That's probably because the stuff you've heard that uses 12-tone rows sucks. Try Alban Berg's Lyric Suite, and just listen to it, don't try to read any of the analysis about pitch classes or what rows he used or any of that nonsense. The accusation is partially true, though. There was a period of about 30 years where some academic composers were trying to create mathematically perfect music. They failed utterly, and produced a lot of unlistenable junk, a lot of it sounding completely random.

      At the same time

    • by CRCulver (715279)
      I'd be wary of making blanket condemnations of twelve-tone music as something that universally repels people. That may be true for audiences in some places, but where I live in Finland, there's a 5-year Schoenberg project going on that draws the same subscriber audience that likes their Brahms and Beethoven. Furthermore, twelve-tone rows have popped up in a number of pieces considered crowd-pleasers, like Rautavaara's Third and Seventh Symphonies (a recording of the last having become a European best-seller
  • Isn't It... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mim (535591)
    basically one big [social/research/collaboration] networking site...just as it was meant to be??
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gzipped_tar (1151931)

      Web 1.0 was all about connecting people. It was an interactive space, and I think Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along. -- Tim Berners-Lee

      • Web 1.0 was all about connecting people. It was an interactive space,
        and I think Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows
        what it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is
        people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along.
        -- Tim Berners-Lee

        Exactly. The original purpose was subverted by the Internet access providers -- I refuse to call them Internet providers -- who began selling people dynamic IP, or worse NATed addresses, hoarded outgoing bandwidth to themselves to sell to "web providers", even explicitly banned people from running servers others could access.

        But to be fair, much of this can be traced to simply providing Internet access to people who hadn't the knowledge to set up a server web space, or the desire to do so. Blogs, Wikis, e

      • by AlpineR (32307)

        Yeah, that's kind of what "2.0" usually means. Thing 1.0 is what the developer thought was necessary to fulfill the vision of how something should work. Thing 2.0 is what he came up with after watching people actually try to use Thing 1.0 and realizing it didn't working as intended.

        Web 1.0 was only interactive for programmers. Web 2.0 is interactive for people, including programmers who want to spend more time on the message and less time on the mechanics of writing the message.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday January 04, 2010 @08:56AM (#30639624) Homepage

    ...that was probably enough though. This guy really missed the point. In today's copyright anything and everything climate, people start coming up with some really strange ideas about content and its value. "If someone reads it, I want to get paid!!" They get needlessly bothered when machines read it and process it for search engines. It rather reminds me of some "robot fears" that people may have had.

    Why not just come out and say it? "I'm afraid of things I don't understand! Let's kill it!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "If someone thinks about reading it, I want to get paid!!"

      Fixed that for you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by hedwards (940851)
      Robot fears? My grandmother died when a Robot ate her medication you insensitive clod.
      • Redundant?! (Score:3, Funny)

        by spun (1352)

        Robots eat old people's medicine for fuel. It's a fact. People who deny this fact may themselves be robots.

    • by Narpak (961733)

      Why not just come out and say it? "I'm afraid of things I don't understand! Let's kill it!"

      And eat it! Fried in batter! Yum yum

  • maybe.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pitje (1083069) on Monday January 04, 2010 @08:59AM (#30639640)

    it just could be that nobody is interested in what he has to say?

    • by Plugh (27537)

      it just could be that nobody is interested in what he has to say?

      Bingo!

      I read the guy's name, and immediately remembered a picture of him in the 1990's in full troglodyte Virtual Reality garb -- goggles and gloves -- ranting about how VR was to be the future of humanity, and his (presumably now-failed) startup efforts in that direction.

      He's lost the ability for his rants to be relevant, until such time as he himself produces a Big Thing, is part of the team that makes the Big Thing, or at least correctly ca

  • by LS (57954) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:03AM (#30639658) Homepage

    This dude was the epitome of "digerati" poser hype acting as some kind of digital prophet spouting buzzwords and hot air during the web 1.0 bubble. He's been riding the 15 minutes he got from his work on the failed VRML for way too long.

    Anyone could sit back and smoke a lot of joints and come up with new ways of talking about old things, but it doesn't mean they are necessarily interesting. This dude is the poster boy for what everyone hated about the dotcom era - a lot of hype and no substance.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      "This dude is the poster boy for what everyone hated about the dotcom era - a lot of hype and no substance."

      You say that like it ended with the dotcom era.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Flambergius (55153) *

      Ad hominem, but correct. It doesn't happen often, so savour it, folks :)

      Jaron Lanier is full of shit and it's not even new shit. He's been on about the evils of the hive mind for a years now, but hey, I guess it pays the bills.

    • Jaron has a real knack for heading off in the right direction. He's also good at seeing beyond the scope of conventionally-worn blinders - in a number of fields. He's got great intuition on which way the truest future lies, and little patience for those who plod along with less vision - or even desire for vision - even where they are people who count as brilliant within the confines of neuroscience, or computer science, or a single genre of music.

      That said, he's also a good hand at writing for a popular aud

  • He's right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    He's right. In an alternative world, no-one would read his words at all, which would be much better. How far we've fallen.

  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:04AM (#30639670)

    In the early days when roads were invented, they were winding romantic sand paths through lush forests, over hills and through valleys, following the path of the creek.

    Now, 6-lane highways cut through mountains - but hey, they can get you from A to B in less than no time.

    If you like to make an original website, this is still possible. You CAN still have your own site, do all the html yourself. Alternatively, you can also spend less than 10 minutes to get your blog online, or less than 15 to have a photo album online.

    Thing is - where the masses previously had no websites, they now have a facebook account... which is equally empty as no website at all. But internet did not lose anything - it just didn't gain anything either.

    • by rwv (1636355)

      If you like to make an original website, this is still possible. You CAN still have your own site, do all the html yourself. Alternatively, you can also spend less than 10 minutes to get your blog online, or less than 15 to have a photo album online.

      This is a good insight as there is a serious time commitment to (a) figuring out a good format for publishing your own website, and (b) figuring out the content that you want to put up there.

      The whole social networking bend takes the issue of deciding on format completely out of consideration, which is oftentimes a good thing because creating a visual appealing design is not a trivial thing to do.

      As an aside, I mange my own site [robertvandyk.com] and have recently committed heavily to letting Flickr and Del.icio.us handl

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:50AM (#30640010)
      "If you like to make an original website, this is still possible."

      I think his bigger issue is that nobody is doing that anymore, so it is becoming impossible to find such things. Maybe he has weird taste or memory distortion, though, because my memory of personal web pages from the 90s is of horrible marquee text, blink text, animated gifs, and black backgrounds without hundreds of different colors in the text.

      "Thing is - where the masses previously had no websites, they now have a facebook account... which is equally empty as no website at all. But internet did not lose anything - it just didn't gain anything either."

      Actually, it did lose something: openness. Facebook is closed off to anyone without a Facebook account, which is definitely a change from the way things used to be done. Sure, there were places that you had to log in to in order to participate during the 90s, but I have trouble remembering websites that required a login just to see what users had posted.
      • by coryking (104614) *

        Facebook is closed off to anyone without a Facebook account

        That is a feature, not a bug. It is one of the things that make it rather successful. I dont want any random jackass viewing my profile.

        Yeah, yeah, yeah, information wants to be free and I shouldn't put it on the internet if I dont want all to see it. Well, guess what--I dont want everybody to see it, I only want people I invite to see it. If I can't use the internet for that purpose, what can I use?

        • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:40AM (#30640432)
          "That is a feature, not a bug. It is one of the things that make it rather successful. I dont want any random jackass viewing my profile."

          Well, I have to wonder what you are posting that has you so worried about individual people seeing it. Look, I am with you on privacy being important, but why focus on individuals? Facebook does not hide your information from the large organizations that really have the power to invade your privacy.

          "Yeah, yeah, yeah, information wants to be free and I shouldn't put it on the internet if I dont want all to see it."

          Pretty much; why would you post something online, with no encryption whatsoever, if you wanted to keep it between you and your friends? Also, why, if this is personal information between you and your friends, would you need to use the global Internet at all? Do you not see your friends in person? Are you and your friends incapable of using email?

          Really, the whole situation sounds bizarre from where I sit. You have this information that you believe should remain between you and your friends, so you post it on a massive, global network and rely on a massively popular, international website with hundreds of millions of users and a history of failing to respect privacy, to ensure that the data is only accessible by your friends. Yeah, I know Facebook is popular and trendy and whatnot, but I really cannot see why you would post information on Facebook that you did not want to spread beyond a close circle of friends.

          "Well, guess what--I dont want everybody to see it, I only want people I invite to see it. If I can't use the internet for that purpose, what can I use?"

          Well, you could do what I do: show your pictures off to your friends when they are sitting next to your computer, talk to them in person, and engage in non-electronic social interactions. For friends in far away places, there is email, IM, telephone, etc., none of which runs the risk of some "random jackass" stumbling across your conversation (unless the jackass is trying to eavesdrop, but do you really think Facebook is going to protect you from such people?).
          • by CrackedButter (646746) on Monday January 04, 2010 @11:31AM (#30641154) Homepage Journal
            I just pulled myself facebook, I got sick of all that faceless and meaningless interaction. I had nearly 300 friends and I informed everybody I would be leaving so they could give me their details and we could meet up in real life. Out of those 300 people, only 2 people gave me their details. That says a lot to me as it turns out nobody was really bothered, human interaction has become passive activity (when it should be much more important) and probably with a lot of people I was just a number.
    • Sometimes when I read the ravings of the original technologists, I think that they saw the computer as something that would define the meaning of their lives and give purpose to all existence. After decades of the other guy getting the credit, and simplistic approaches and technologies winning the public eye over more complicated, while technically superior versions are obsolete, is it any wonder he's jaded? Turns out that technology, humanity and marketting seldom coincide.

      Computers are tools--even the soc

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:05AM (#30639678)

    Are they trying to guilt us into RTFA? I, for one, will carry on commenting on articles I haven't read.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:08AM (#30639696)
    The hypocrisy!

    This guy got his reputation from our technology - now he goes around insulting the people who read his gushings.

    misrepresented by crowds of quick and sloppy readers

    It sounds like he has become altogether too precious about his own opinions and superiority (in his own mind, at least) and forgets that every printed word he's ever made money from has gone through exactly the same process of being edited, distributed and read (and possibly mis-understood - but isn't that HIS failure, not the reader's?) as the electronic texts he is so critical of.

  • Worse than DRM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jfenwick (961674) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:11AM (#30639726)
    "He does propose a solution to the difficulty of how to compensate artists, artisans, and programmers in a digital era: a content database that would be run by some kind of government organization: "We should effectively keep only one copy of each cultural expression—as with a book or song—and pay the author of that expression a small, affordable amount whenever it's accessed." According to the article, Lanier wants a pay per use SOA, the very strategy Microsoft has been trying to implement as a strategy for years. It's the ultimate greed based mashup of DRM and cloud technology possible, all mandated by the government. I wouldn't be surprised if this happened in the near future.
    • Re:Worse than DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vlm (69642) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:28AM (#30639850)

      "We should effectively keep only one copy of each cultural expression--as with a book or song--and pay the author of that expression a small, affordable amount whenever it's accessed."

      I should pay my plumber every time I flush, forever. And, I should pay some carpenter every time I go up or down "their" stairs. Its not fair that they don't have a perpetual revenue stream from work they did in the past.

      • by IBBoard (1128019)

        As a software developer (of sorts - technically a "researcher", but I program more) all I can say is this:

        How do I get persistent royalties when people use my work by running the programs I wrote? I wrote it, so surely it is a creative work like a book and I deserve royalties. Surely copying it to memory is making another copy and deserves more royalties? Surely I should be able to stop people copying it to memory as well, even if it is just because I don't like that person, since it is my work. Some form o

      • Hey how about we look at how much work people do and record it somewhere. Then we can gather up all of the money into a big pot and give everybody the right amount. Though trying to measure the amount of work is tricky. Maybe it would be better to just spread it around evenly?

    • Re:Worse than DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:00AM (#30640082)

      Maybe we need to go back to art's roots - a patron system. Except instead of a single rich guy to be your patron, you could have a legion of adoring fans who are all willing to give you $1 to finance your next album. Once it's finished, the music is released into the public domain.

      If you were a decent act I don't think you'd have too much trouble getting fans to donate. And when you lost your touch you'd be retired.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CRCulver (715279)

        Maybe we need to go back to art's roots - a patron system. Except instead of a single rich guy to be your patron, you could have a legion of adoring fans who are all willing to give you $1 to finance your next album. Once it's finished, the music is released into the public domain.

        Most European films and art music recordings are made with a boatload of state funding (which is essentially a modern-day patronage system), and there's still quite a few productions that are financed mainly by some nice old man

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ceoyoyo (59147)

          I was thinking more about what happens post-production. The model now is to fund a project, produce it, then flog the thing for as much money as you can possibly get. Correct me if I'm wrong, but a lot of grant funded productions follow much the same model, do they not?

          A proper patron system would have the patrons contributing mostly because they wanted to see something made (which is kind of the case with grants but definitely not the case with corporations) but more importantly, the people involved with

  • by paiute (550198) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:15AM (#30639744)

    I did not RTFA, and I will not RTFA. My spidey sense tells me what is in it (and in the book, which I will also not R) - a needlessly long piece of prose which can be summarized as : Get off my virtual lawn. and Gee, everything was so much better when I was young.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Things change. Young people embrace it, old people rooted in the old way bitch and moan about it. Rinse, repeat.
      • by paiute (550198)

        Things change. Young people embrace it, old people rooted in the old way bitch and moan about it. Rinse, repeat.

        I'm not so sure that the meme of the young being early adopters and the old being Luddites is uniformly correct. Sure, some of it is familiarity, but there is a mindset which is independent of physical age. There is a willingness to try new things not related to calendar years. My mother has a website, she Twitters, she blogs, and she is pushing 80. My mother in law would not look at a computer and relied on an electric typewriter.

        At work, some of the fresh college graduates are happy to write down their lo

  • Whine (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zieroh (307208) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:17AM (#30639764)

    Jaron whines a lot. I think that's his main contribution to technology.

    • Musical instruments (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AlpineR (32307) <wagnerr@umich.edu> on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:53AM (#30640602) Homepage

      I saw him speak at the University of Michigan around 1999. I knew him only from his Wired articles and was interested to hear what this guru had to say to an auditorium full of open-minded students.

      His most memorable point in that lecture was that digital music can never be as rich as analog music because whereas an analog instrument allows infinite variation in how each note is played, a digital instrument has only a finite number possible outputs. I saw several weaknesses in that argument: 1) The quantization of a digital device blurs into a continuum when the increments are small enough. 2) Analog devices operate by physics which is itself quantized. 3) Combinatorics means that even an instrument with only a dozen notes, ten amplitudes, and a hundred durations could produce immense numbers of different songs. Just look at what can be written with the few characters of ASCII. A finite vocabulary hardly limits what a language can express.

      Based on that lecture and everything I've read by him since, I'd have to moderate the guy as "Not interesting", "Not informative", and "Not insightful". His role in life seems to be to take a contrarian position on some point of modern culture and then act smug and enlightened about it. It would be poetic justice if it's only the gadgets that find his book interesting and we humans just ignore it as we continue creating and communing in our digital domain.

      • by selven (1556643)

        I saw several weaknesses in that argument: 1) The quantization of a digital device blurs into a continuum when the increments are small enough. 2) Analog devices operate by physics which is itself quantized. 3) Combinatorics means that even an instrument with only a dozen notes, ten amplitudes,

        Also, the human senses themselves cannot perceive beyond a certain resolution. For example, that feeling of 5760*3840 resolution being more visually pleasing than 2400*1920 is mostly the placebo effect.

    • by zieroh (307208)

      Wow. I didn't expect to get modded +5 Insightful for snarkiness. So let's see if I can justify my karma with some minimal substance.

      Jaron Lanier has spent much of the last couple of decades since his flame-out telling everyone else they're doing it wrong. This would be perfectly acceptable if Jaron was actually doing it right, but the fact is that he has done essentially nothing since those early days of hype and promise. I would even argue that he's yet to contribute anything useful to the field of technol

  • I don't understand how Open Source fits into this list. Open Source isn't new. It's much older than 10 years.

  • welcomes you, dear sir.

  • we always are. You can say whatever about an individual person, but in big numbers we could be considered gadgets, either in virtual or in real world. Web 2.0 is just our last expression as crowd. Oh, there are exceptions, but we usually call them crazy, unfitting, unadapted, or even terrorists (but probably not genious, once a lot of people think that it becomes imitated and becomes a new kind of gadget)
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      "but in big numbers we could be considered gadgets"

      Crappy battery life (have to be charged three times a day), won't fit in a pocket, crash a lot, requires constant maintenance, no wifi.

  • by weave (48069) * on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:41AM (#30639932) Journal

    Clifford Stoll [wikipedia.org]

    Remember him? And his book Silicon Snake Oil from the mid-90s about the evils of the new Internet.

    What does he do now? Makes weird bottles. Wow.

    Yesterday my boss was pissed because his new Mac laptop with Snow Leopard wouldn't work with his old Laserjet 1020. A few minutes on Google and I found the solution.

    I remember what it was like finding tech info in the 80s. A nightmare. For example, I wanted some tech books on CANDE, WFL, and ALGOL that a Burrough's mainframe that my university used and was told by the publisher that they'll only ship if I proved I was an employee of a firm that owned one.

    Keep your romance about the past to yourself. Adapt or die I say.

    • Clifford Stoll is an internet sceptic, not a ludite. His arguments against expensive school IT programms financed by cuts in the teaching staff of public schools have solid points. As do his warnings about the Interweb isolating people rather than bringing them together.

      Some of his worries [berkeley.edu] turned out to be unwarranted, others turned out to be quite valid.

      I'll take the advice and thoughts over an educated sceptic like Stoll over some permanent yay-sayer anytime.

      My 2 cents.

      • by pydev (1683904)

        I'll take the advice and thoughts over an educated sceptic like Stoll over some permanent yay-sayer anytime.

        (1) I'll first make decisions based on objective studies and controlled experiments.

        (2) Absent that, I'll look at what actually works in the market and what people are willing to spend money on.

        (3) Only if I can't get either of those, I'll consider the opinions of experts.

        For the Internet and related technologies, we have plenty of (1) and (2). Even if Stoll could be considered an "expert", that make

      • by weave (48069) * on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:31AM (#30640350) Journal

        I saw Stoll at a book signing in the mid 90s for that book. He said at the time he stopped using email totally, if you want to contact him, use the postal service.

        Maybe he's mellowed since then, but he was definitely heading to luddite realm back then.

        p.s., I agree that technology is no substitute for effective teaching. I work at one of those places and not too long ago a math teacher was freaking out that the Internet was down so she couldn't get the students into MyMathLab and didn't know what to do. So I replied "How about pick up some chalk?"

        Yeah, I got in trouble for that remark... but really, you can't teach math without the Internet? Gimme a break.

  • crowds of quip and floppy raiders?

  • by Mathinker (909784) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:51AM (#30640012) Journal

    He rants, but one wonders how many human people he would have expected to read his words in a world before the Web, where he wouldn't get free publicity on Slashdot by spouting anti-techno rants.

    Disclaimer: I also didn't read. And unless some other poster here convinces me it's worthwhile, I probably won't.

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      SO many people have spouted about how they refuse to read the article, I have no choice now but to read the article.

      I AM A REBEL!!!11

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Night Goat (18437)

      I did read, and there's a slight difference between his point and what you think his point is. He's actually against Web 2.0, not the web in general. According to the article, his point is basically that the modern Internet has taken the interesting parts of the early Internet away and left it sort of homogenized. Remixes have taken the place of new creations, basically. I kind of agree with him. I occasionally get "sick of the Internet" and after reading this article, I understand that it's more like I'm g

  • by netsavior (627338) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:54AM (#30640032)
    The Printing press made READING accessible to everyone (eventually), "web2.0" or whatever is making WRITING accessible to everyone, it is a giant leap, but unfortunately leads to a lot of crap published, like the article linked in parent.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Making it easier to be published is a problem, because it decreases the signal to noise ratio. For every new, insightful, witty, piece of prose you now have 100 new pieces of dross. I didn't break tradition and RTFA, so I can't say which category it falls into. There are two solutions to this. One is to make it harder to publish again. The other is to build better filtering mechanisms to let people find the one in a hundred (or thousand or million) things that they want to read. The first option looks
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Foolicious (895952)

        There are two solutions to this. One is to make it harder to publish again.

        You're making the (incorrect, I would say) assumption that making stuff hard to publish meant that if something was published it was better. But something being published in the traditional and formal sense of the word simply means that, well, it was published. An agent liked it enough to bring it to a publisher who liked it enough to publish it. There are a millions ways that this can occur, such as a well-known author publishing a crappy work to a nobody author's dad being friends with an agent or publ

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      No Web "2.0" is making blinky flashy animated to everyone. Writing was available with WEB 0.5Beta. There is NOTHING that Web2.0 does to enable it's all about looks and flashy. I was doing web"2.0" things back in the late 90's with that old "antiquated" tech.

      CSS does make it easier to change the look of a page quickly, I do like CSS. but Javascript has gone way overboard. I'm tired of having 20X the weight in JS loading for a page than the HTML,CSS and images combined. It's making the web bloated.

  • Has Jaron Lanier actually ever produced anything useful? Does he have any significant skills or accomplishments? Why should I listen to him? Popularizing other people's ideas about virtual reality and a bit of so-so "classical" music doesn't really convince me.

  • by beegeegee (1336603) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:11AM (#30640176)
    The article is a Slate review of a collection (book) of writings by Lanier. The review concludes in a non-sympathetic view of Lanier's thinking. In other words, if anyone on /. had bothered reading the article, their (by comparison) lame posts would not have been neccessary. Ironically, this is exactly the point Lanier is making. No one is reading the real words, no one is making real friends; it is all an artificial world constructed for advertising/marketing. Way to go slashdotters.
    • That's a good, concise, accurate overview of both the review and the pile-on "discussion" here. And it gets beaten down as a troll. What's amazing is that, if you're literate and over 30, you've read some of Jaron's stuff by now. While it's hit-and-miss, the hits are amazing. I know some top, absolutely brilliant people (separate groups in both neuroscience and music) who know him well personally, and are strongly impressed by him. If you can read, say, 10 of his essays and not be richly rewarded by 2 or 3

  • You have *already* been assimilated and all you can do is whine about it.

  • If the book is like the rest of the examples given in the review all I have to say is "boo hoo". It's just another rant by someone who laments the commercialization of the internet like a child who had his playground destroyed. After reading his opinion on Linux he has absolutely no credibility in my eyes anyway. Anyone who says that Linux is no good because it is just a copy of UNIX is entirely missing the point of Linux, the innovations of Linux, and the progress of Linux. It's as if people like him t
  • "scanned, rehashed, and misrepresented by crowds of quick and sloppy readers."

    RTFA? Surely, you jest. This is Slashdot.

  • by Dr_Ken (1163339) on Monday January 04, 2010 @11:19AM (#30640984) Journal

    "Over the years, Lanier has become a skeptic of that amorphous thing called Web 2.0. He directs most of his ire toward the "anonymous blog comments, vapid video pranks, and lightweight mashups" that flit through our browsers and Twitter feeds. But he's also critical of bigger Internet landmarks, such as Wikipedia, the open-source software Linux, and the "hive mind" in general. It would be fitting to rue Lanier's fate as mere sausage for search algorithms if he had organized his opinions into a coherent thesis. The reality is that Lanier's stimulating, half-cocked ideas are precisely the kind of thinking that gets refined and enlarged on vibrant Web places like Marginal Revolution, Boing Boing, and MetaFilter." article link [slate.com]

    Just another cranky failed ex-hip guy who flamed out cuz he couldn't keep up.

  • Daniel Brandt, is that you?

  • Jaron is the next stage in the development of a "futurist" - still a futurist, just disenchanted with the unfulfilled promises of his own concocted visions, and now he blames the world for the fact that he was wrong in the first place.

  • the irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 04, 2010 @11:54AM (#30641522)

    The irony here is that this thread is a perfect example of what Lanier's been talking about. A group of people with self-reinforcing attitudes making pronouncements based not on the actual book, but on a review of the book. Actually, I bet most of these "opinions"--since who can be bothered to read an entire review, let alone the book--aren't even informed by reading the review. I'm sure there are lots of valid criticisms to the book, but Lanier has you all dead to rights as far as the intellectual seriousness of this "debate" goes.

  • To borrow a term from the 1990s, few of even the most creative people like JL can get up with the changes on internet time, decade after decade. Last decade's pundits have become ths new cranks.
  • [citations needed] (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday January 04, 2010 @02:18PM (#30643702)
    He does make a small point about stuff just being copied. Too often these days when I search for information I get 1000 hits containing the exact same text, or 1000 sites that all link to the same original article. Hyperlinks are a great concept until you wind up with nothing but a digital mobius strip of links. I find this a lot when chasing down ideological talking points. It usually just leads to a rat's nest of articles with "they said" or "experts say" all pointing at one another, but any actual data by "they" or the "experts" supporting the original claim is nowhere to be found.

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