Vaidhyanathan Hates “You”

by on December 29, 2006 · 46 comments

Siva Vaidhyanathan has a puzzling article up at MSNBC complaining about–well, I’m not actually sure what he’s complaining about:

Google, for instance, only makes money because it harvests, copies, aggregates, and ranks billions of Web contributions by millions of authors who unknowingly grant Google the right to capitalize, or “free ride,” on their work. Who are you to Google? To Amazon? Do “you” really deserve an award for allowing yourself to be rendered so flatly and cravenly? Do you deserve an award because media mogul Rupert Murdoch can make money capturing your creativity via his new toy, MySpace?

The important movement online is not about “you.” It’s about “us.” It’s about our profound need to connect and share. It’s about our remarkable ability to create among circles– each person contributing a little bit to a poem, a song, a quilt, or a conversation.

So it’s not about your reviews on Amazon. It’s about how we as a community of Web users choose to exercise our collective wills and forge collective consciousnesses. So far, we have declined to do so. We have not harnessed this communicative power to force the rich and powerful to stop polluting our air and water or to stop the spread of AIDS or malaria. We have not brought down any tyrants. We have simply let a handful of new corporations aggregate and exercise their own will on us. And we have perfected online dating.

He seems to be drawing a distinction between “good” social production, which apparently has the power to cure aids and bring down dictators, and “bad” social production, which merely gives people better ways to communicate, and allows companies like Google and MySpace to profit in the process. But neither side of this dichotomy makes a lot of sense.


On the one hand, it’s not reasonable to expect a new communications technology to solve all of humanity’s problems. But I suspect that if you asked a human rights activist in a despotic nation, he’s tell you that the Internet is the best thing that’s happened in the fight against tyranny in decades. The Internet has made it virtually impossible for dictators to control the flow of information to their subjects, and it’s given resistance fighters much better tools for securely and privately communicating with one another. Similarly, I suspect that AIDS researchers would tell you that the Internet has been greatly helpful in bringing together the world community of AIDS researchers to share results, discussing problems, etc. So while MySpace hasn’t single-handedly brought down a dictator or cured a terminal illness, the Internet has certainly been helpful in both of those causes.

On the flip-side, Vaidhyanathan casts aspersions on people who “‘link’ to ‘friends’ thousands of miles away because they also appreciate the musical stylings of Coldplay” instead of spending more time with our neighbors. But scare quotes aside, what exactly is the problem here? We’re not apportioned a fixed supply of friendships. People really do make friends with people thousands of miles away, via the Internet. That doesn’t in any way prevent those same people from becoming friends with the next-door neighbor.

And online friendships can be every bit as meaningful and lasting as friendships with people we meet in person. In fact, the categories often overlap. I got my first job in public policy with the assistance of two online friends who I never met until I came to DC for my job interview at Cato. Conversely, I’ve lived in three cities in the last four years. I’ve found that the best way to keep in touch with people is via the Internet–email, instant messaging, blogs, online journals. At some point I hope those people will become real-life friends again, but in the meantime online friendships are better than nothing.

And as Ed Felten has argued, the fact that companies are making money doesn’t in any way detract from the value users get from using these tools.

So I don’t get it. Vaidhyanathan’s complaints seem to be a combination of knee-jerk leftist and old fogeyism. He seems to think that social interactions on this new-fangled Internet doesn’t count as “real” social interaction. And he hates the idea of companies making big pots of money by facilitating these interactions. I find both of those concerns baffling.

  • http://www.davidmcelroy.org/ David McElroy

    I’m rarely THIS broadly dismissive of somebody just because of a stupid opinion, but Vaidhyanathan MUST be an idiot. He seems like a guy who would be upset that more people are traveling because it means that evil motel owners are making money. He doesn’t seem to understand that companies such as Google only make money when they provide services that add enough value that we want to use them.

    The alternative to the system we currently have would be every company somehow charging for services such as search OR all of these services magically becoming free. People such as Vaidhyanathan don’t understand that somebody has to pay to produce the services that we want and need. Search is a huge part of what makes the Internet worth using. Google makes money because the company does the best job of providing that service (and other services). I’m not bothered in the least that the company makes money as a result of it.

  • http://www.davidmcelroy.org/ David McElroy

    I’m rarely THIS broadly dismissive of somebody just because of a stupid opinion, but Vaidhyanathan MUST be an idiot. He seems like a guy who would be upset that more people are traveling because it means that evil motel owners are making money. He doesn’t seem to understand that companies such as Google only make money when they provide services that add enough value that we want to use them.

    The alternative to the system we currently have would be every company somehow charging for services such as search OR all of these services magically becoming free. People such as Vaidhyanathan don’t understand that somebody has to pay to produce the services that we want and need. Search is a huge part of what makes the Internet worth using. Google makes money because the company does the best job of providing that service (and other services). I’m not bothered in the least that the company makes money as a result of it.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Y’know … it’s not worth it. I suppose in some formalistic system, I’m obligated to spend hours trying to teach pigs to sing. But I’m just too worn-out for that these days.

    Society is more than business. That’s the divide. If you don’t believe that, there’s not a whole lot more communication which can occur.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Y’know … it’s not worth it. I suppose in some formalistic system, I’m obligated to spend hours trying to teach pigs to sing. But I’m just too worn-out for that these days.

    Society is more than business. That’s the divide. If you don’t believe that, there’s not a whole lot more communication which can occur.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    PS – Tim, take note – This is why a Liberal/Libertarian alliance just doesn’t work in the long run. Again, Libertarians are neither Liberals nor Conservatives – but they are *not* equally distant from each side.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    PS – Tim, take note – This is why a Liberal/Libertarian alliance just doesn’t work in the long run. Again, Libertarians are neither Liberals nor Conservatives – but they are *not* equally distant from each side.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Society is more than business.

    What on Earth gives you the impression that I believe otherwise? If you look back over my posts in the “Open Source, Open Standards, and Peer Production” section, I’ve repeatedly emphasized that there’s more to society than markets. So I don’t understand what you’re disagreeing with here.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Society is more than business.

    What on Earth gives you the impression that I believe otherwise? If you look back over my posts in the “Open Source, Open Standards, and Peer Production” section, I’ve repeatedly emphasized that there’s more to society than markets. So I don’t understand what you’re disagreeing with here.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    You wrote:

    “He seems to think that social interactions on this new-fangled Internet doesn’t count as “real” social interaction. And he hates the idea of companies making big pots of money by facilitating these interactions. I find both of those concerns baffling.”

    Agree or disagree, I don’t find those concerns baffling.

    He’s saying: Marketing isn’t civilization. Data-mining businesses are NOT social empowerment.

    There’s also some deeper issues about net-community vs real community. It’s possible to go too far with this critique, which generates a backlash, but the core critism is meaningful in my view.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    You wrote:

    “He seems to think that social interactions on this new-fangled Internet doesn’t count as “real” social interaction. And he hates the idea of companies making big pots of money by facilitating these interactions. I find both of those concerns baffling.”

    Agree or disagree, I don’t find those concerns baffling.

    He’s saying: Marketing isn’t civilization. Data-mining businesses are NOT social empowerment.

    There’s also some deeper issues about net-community vs real community. It’s possible to go too far with this critique, which generates a backlash, but the core critism is meaningful in my view.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    He’s saying: Marketing isn’t civilization. Data-mining businesses are NOT social empowerment.

    Well, I agree with that. But if that’s all he’s saying, he sure does paint with a broad brush. MySpace, Google, and the rest are empowering because they allow ordinary individuals to communicate with each other in ways that they couldn’t before. From the user’s perspective, the fact that there’s a for-profit company in the background selling ads is incidental. These companies don’t “exercise their own will on us” in any meaningful sense. Rupert Murdoch doesn’t dictate what peoples’ MySpace pages will say.

    Vaidhyanathan (and I guess you) seem to believe that the fact that a company is making a profit is proof, all by itself, that no empowerment is going on. To say that it’s possible for a technology to be simultaneously profitable and empowering is not to say that profitability and empowerment are synonymous. With most of these companies, the profitability is an incidental part of a much more significant social transformation. The benefit to companies is tiny compared to the benefit to users.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    He’s saying: Marketing isn’t civilization. Data-mining businesses are NOT social empowerment.

    Well, I agree with that. But if that’s all he’s saying, he sure does paint with a broad brush. MySpace, Google, and the rest are empowering because they allow ordinary individuals to communicate with each other in ways that they couldn’t before. From the user’s perspective, the fact that there’s a for-profit company in the background selling ads is incidental. These companies don’t “exercise their own will on us” in any meaningful sense. Rupert Murdoch doesn’t dictate what peoples’ MySpace pages will say.

    Vaidhyanathan (and I guess you) seem to believe that the fact that a company is making a profit is proof, all by itself, that no empowerment is going on. To say that it’s possible for a technology to be simultaneously profitable and empowering is not to say that profitability and empowerment are synonymous. With most of these companies, the profitability is an incidental part of a much more significant social transformation. The benefit to companies is tiny compared to the benefit to users.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    “Vaidhyanathan (and I guess you) seem to believe that the fact that a company is making a profit is proof, all by itself, that no empowerment is going on.”

    This is what I mean by : “Society is more than business. That’s the divide. If you don’t believe that, there’s not a whole lot more communication which can occur”

    Sigh … Tim, I don’t want to be unduly personally harsh on you, reflecting my decade of frustration with Libertarians. But there is a fundamental mental block that Libertarianism induces that makes it very hard to discuss the topic. I’ve had this sort of conversation many, many times. Libertarians are so fanatically fixated on business and profit that they simply can’t grasp certain criticisms on the issue. It’s very much like fundamentalist Christians who simply can’t get that pagan religions don’t have a God and Satan.

    It goes like this:

    Liberal: This isn’t all that great. It’s a rather minor and not so wonderful effect
    Libertarian: knee-jerk leftist and old fogeyism. … hates the idea of companies making big pots of money [i.e.: COMMIE!]

    And it just gets worse from there.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    “Vaidhyanathan (and I guess you) seem to believe that the fact that a company is making a profit is proof, all by itself, that no empowerment is going on.”

    This is what I mean by : “Society is more than business. That’s the divide. If you don’t believe that, there’s not a whole lot more communication which can occur”

    Sigh … Tim, I don’t want to be unduly personally harsh on you, reflecting my decade of frustration with Libertarians. But there is a fundamental mental block that Libertarianism induces that makes it very hard to discuss the topic. I’ve had this sort of conversation many, many times. Libertarians are so fanatically fixated on business and profit that they simply can’t grasp certain criticisms on the issue. It’s very much like fundamentalist Christians who simply can’t get that pagan religions don’t have a God and Satan.

    It goes like this:

    Liberal: This isn’t all that great. It’s a rather minor and not so wonderful effect
    Libertarian: knee-jerk leftist and old fogeyism. … hates the idea of companies making big pots of money [i.e.: COMMIE!]

    And it just gets worse from there.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Libertarians are so fanatically fixated on business and profit.

    Except I didn’t bring up business. You did. My point (in response to your comment) was simply that everything businesses do isn’t automatically evil. How is that a fanatical fixation?

    I really don’t understand why you’re trying to find a disagreement where there isn’t one. I don’t think, and have never said, that life is all about commercial transactions. If you insist on ascribing that view to me, then I guess you’re probably right that productive discussion isn’t possible.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Libertarians are so fanatically fixated on business and profit.

    Except I didn’t bring up business. You did. My point (in response to your comment) was simply that everything businesses do isn’t automatically evil. How is that a fanatical fixation?

    I really don’t understand why you’re trying to find a disagreement where there isn’t one. I don’t think, and have never said, that life is all about commercial transactions. If you insist on ascribing that view to me, then I guess you’re probably right that productive discussion isn’t possible.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Quote: “And he hates the idea of companies making big pots of money by facilitating these interactions.”

    The whole point of SV’s article is that those companies are the ones empowered, not “You” (as in civic society) – but this just isn’t getting across.
    Because the *concept* isn’t there.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Quote: “And he hates the idea of companies making big pots of money by facilitating these interactions.”

    The whole point of SV’s article is that those companies are the ones empowered, not “You” (as in civic society) – but this just isn’t getting across.
    Because the *concept* isn’t there.

  • http://www.randomtruth.com randomtruth

    Tim,

    Maybe you sould add an ad to this site. Then people like Seth wouldn’t post their incomprehensible, pointless diatribe because they’d think that you’re also in this to make pots of money rather than facilitate and cultivate intelligent discussions.

    It’s a poor man who blames the tools for the results of how they are used.

  • http://www.randomtruth.com randomtruth

    Tim,

    Maybe you sould add an ad to this site. Then people like Seth wouldn’t post their incomprehensible, pointless diatribe because they’d think that you’re also in this to make pots of money rather than facilitate and cultivate intelligent discussions.

    It’s a poor man who blames the tools for the results of how they are used.

  • http://www.randomtruth.com randomtruth

    And I have to add… to use an argument like “oh, you’re a [blank], therefore, you’ll just never get it” is absolutely pathetic. It’s not debate, it’s name calling.

  • http://www.randomtruth.com randomtruth

    And I have to add… to use an argument like “oh, you’re a [blank], therefore, you’ll just never get it” is absolutely pathetic. It’s not debate, it’s name calling.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    No, I understand that was his point. Which is why I spent my post pointing out ways in which civic society (in the form of dissidents, AIDS researchers, and friends keeping in touch across great distances) is, in fact, getting empowered.

    Now, maybe you’re not as impressed with those forms of empowerment as I am. But then our disagreement doesn’t have anything to do with whether I’m “fanatically fixated” on business. We just evaluate the value of these services differently. I happen to think that being able to keep in touch with friends who live a thousand miles away is pretty empowering.

    But I don’t think they’re empowering because they’re commercial companies. I’m equally excited about commercial sites like MySpace and YouTube and about non-commercial sites like Wikipedia and Craigslist. I’m excited about them because I think they let users do some extremely useful things that they could never do before.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    No, I understand that was his point. Which is why I spent my post pointing out ways in which civic society (in the form of dissidents, AIDS researchers, and friends keeping in touch across great distances) is, in fact, getting empowered.

    Now, maybe you’re not as impressed with those forms of empowerment as I am. But then our disagreement doesn’t have anything to do with whether I’m “fanatically fixated” on business. We just evaluate the value of these services differently. I happen to think that being able to keep in touch with friends who live a thousand miles away is pretty empowering.

    But I don’t think they’re empowering because they’re commercial companies. I’m equally excited about commercial sites like MySpace and YouTube and about non-commercial sites like Wikipedia and Craigslist. I’m excited about them because I think they let users do some extremely useful things that they could never do before.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    Tim, Vaidhyanathan’s main argument is that social production is not the *revolution* its hyped up to be, while you seem to be dubunking the argument (which Vaidhyanathan does not even make) that social production is not important or has no value.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    Tim, Vaidhyanathan’s main argument is that social production is not the *revolution* its hyped up to be, while you seem to be dubunking the argument (which Vaidhyanathan does not even make) that social production is not important or has no value.

  • http://sivacracy.net Siva Vaidhyanathan

    Dear Tim,

    Noel and Seth have done a very good job explaining my column in response to your comments. But I am afraid that you still misunderstand it.

    I hope you did not deliberately misread my article to score some points against liberals like myself.

    I was complaining about Time’s simplistic hyperbole about the “you” revolution. My criticisms were of Time, not Google. I am no enemy of Google (albeit I remain a critic). And I am certainly no enemy of capitalism, market relations, or — for heaven’s sake — the Internet!

    I laughed when you accused me of “knee-jerk liberalism and old-fogeyism.” I recently turned 40, so I should have cried, I guess. No, real “knee-jerkers” don’t agree with me on much. And I suppose growing up with the PC and the Internet and programming hangman on a Commodore Pet computer in 1982 qualifies me as an “old fogey.” Following technology for 25 years certainly has made me allergic to hyperbole and ahistorical bombast.

    You and I concur about the potential liberatory effects of the Internet and social production.

    We agree that being able to keep in touch with friends is remarkable and important, but it has had effects that are both positive and negative. “Empowerment” is debatable. I would like to see it rather than merely hope for it or declare it.

    You can read my views at some length in my books. I think you would find we agree more than we differ.

  • http://sivacracy.net Siva Vaidhyanathan

    Dear Tim,

    Noel and Seth have done a very good job explaining my column in response to your comments. But I am afraid that you still misunderstand it.

    I hope you did not deliberately misread my article to score some points against liberals like myself.

    I was complaining about Time’s simplistic hyperbole about the “you” revolution. My criticisms were of Time, not Google. I am no enemy of Google (albeit I remain a critic). And I am certainly no enemy of capitalism, market relations, or — for heaven’s sake — the Internet!

    I laughed when you accused me of “knee-jerk liberalism and old-fogeyism.” I recently turned 40, so I should have cried, I guess. No, real “knee-jerkers” don’t agree with me on much. And I suppose growing up with the PC and the Internet and programming hangman on a Commodore Pet computer in 1982 qualifies me as an “old fogey.” Following technology for 25 years certainly has made me allergic to hyperbole and ahistorical bombast.

    You and I concur about the potential liberatory effects of the Internet and social production.

    We agree that being able to keep in touch with friends is remarkable and important, but it has had effects that are both positive and negative. “Empowerment” is debatable. I would like to see it rather than merely hope for it or declare it.

    You can read my views at some length in my books. I think you would find we agree more than we differ.

  • http://www.techliberation.com Tim Lee

    Prof. Vaidhyanathan,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, and I apologize if I misunderstood your article. The line about knee-jerking and old fogeyism was uncalled for, and I should have left it out. And I think you’re right that we have much about which we agree.

    But I do think that there’s an ideological divide of sorts here. I tend to see empowerment in individual terms. So while Time certainly engaged in a bit of hyperbole, I think that their point is basically right–enabling the individual to express him or herself more effectively is inherently empowering. You seem to see the community, rather than the individual, as the unit of empowerment.

    I also think I’m less worried than you about the effects of corporate control over the means of online communication. Although MySpace, YouTube, et al are certainly making a healthy profit, it seems to me that their control over the content they host is quite limited. It’s not obvious that those sites would be much different if they were organized more like Wikipedia or Craig’s List. And because there is such a proliferation of alternative communications channels, I think there’s less and less reason to be worried about concentration of the mainstream media.

    Your books are on my list of books to read, and I’m looking forward to doing so. Unfortunately, it’s a rather long list, so it will probably be a while before I get to them.

  • http://www.techliberation.com Tim Lee

    Prof. Vaidhyanathan,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, and I apologize if I misunderstood your article. The line about knee-jerking and old fogeyism was uncalled for, and I should have left it out. And I think you’re right that we have much about which we agree.

    But I do think that there’s an ideological divide of sorts here. I tend to see empowerment in individual terms. So while Time certainly engaged in a bit of hyperbole, I think that their point is basically right–enabling the individual to express him or herself more effectively is inherently empowering. You seem to see the community, rather than the individual, as the unit of empowerment.

    I also think I’m less worried than you about the effects of corporate control over the means of online communication. Although MySpace, YouTube, et al are certainly making a healthy profit, it seems to me that their control over the content they host is quite limited. It’s not obvious that those sites would be much different if they were organized more like Wikipedia or Craig’s List. And because there is such a proliferation of alternative communications channels, I think there’s less and less reason to be worried about concentration of the mainstream media.

    Your books are on my list of books to read, and I’m looking forward to doing so. Unfortunately, it’s a rather long list, so it will probably be a while before I get to them.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Me thinks the professor doth protest too much. He wrote:

    So it’s not about your reviews on Amazon. It’s about how we as a community of Web users choose to exercise our collective wills and forge collective consciousnesses. So far, we have declined to do so. We have not harnessed this communicative power to force the rich and powerful to stop polluting our air and water or to stop the spread of AIDS or malaria. We have not brought down any tyrants. We have simply let a handful of new corporations aggregate and exercise their own will on us.

    Sounds like a communist to me.

    BTW, I understand that DDT will be used once again to combat malaria in Africa. That’s good news because it’s the only effective tool for stopping malaria mosquitoes, but it was discontinued after The People of the West determined it wasn’t fashionable (Rachel Carson, the US enviros, etc.)

    This is case where the people were wrong and Dow Chemical was right. Millions of African babies have died because of this exercise of “Collective Will Forcing the Rich and Powerful to Toe the Mark.”

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Me thinks the professor doth protest too much. He wrote:

    So it’s not about your reviews on Amazon. It’s about how we as a community of Web users choose to exercise our collective wills and forge collective consciousnesses. So far, we have declined to do so. We have not harnessed this communicative power to force the rich and powerful to stop polluting our air and water or to stop the spread of AIDS or malaria. We have not brought down any tyrants. We have simply let a handful of new corporations aggregate and exercise their own will on us.

    Sounds like a communist to me.

    BTW, I understand that DDT will be used once again to combat malaria in Africa. That’s good news because it’s the only effective tool for stopping malaria mosquitoes, but it was discontinued after The People of the West determined it wasn’t fashionable (Rachel Carson, the US enviros, etc.)

    This is case where the people were wrong and Dow Chemical was right. Millions of African babies have died because of this exercise of “Collective Will Forcing the Rich and Powerful to Toe the Mark.”

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    This statement is the core of the dispute: “enabling the individual to express him or herself more effectively is inherently empowering.”

    Express *what* and *how*? Empowering marketers to sell better, and data-miners to find the buzz, is not very helpful in *building* *civic* *society*. Confusing these senses of the word, making the former seem to stand for the latter, is a very profitable profession.

    Richard: What you claimed about DDT is completely wrong. It’s not even debatable. It’s a right-wing Urban Legend. Here’s a comprehensive DDT ban refutation.

    Now, in terms of empowerment, did that do any good? You’re empowered to spread nonsense, and I’m empowered to post the correction – but what’s the result? Does the myth or the truth spread faster?

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    This statement is the core of the dispute: “enabling the individual to express him or herself more effectively is inherently empowering.”

    Express *what* and *how*? Empowering marketers to sell better, and data-miners to find the buzz, is not very helpful in *building* *civic* *society*. Confusing these senses of the word, making the former seem to stand for the latter, is a very profitable profession.

    Richard: What you claimed about DDT is completely wrong. It’s not even debatable. It’s a right-wing Urban Legend. Here’s a comprehensive DDT ban refutation.

    Now, in terms of empowerment, did that do any good? You’re empowered to spread nonsense, and I’m empowered to post the correction – but what’s the result? Does the myth or the truth spread faster?

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Seth, I see you’re unfamiliar with the DDT ban and have latched on to a weak web page to try and refute it. In fact, the DDT ban has two aspects: the EU and certain other trading blocks refuse to import food from countries that allow DDT use, and the USAID refuses to fund DDT for mosquito eradication. As a result of these two policies, malaria has made a comeback in Africa since 1972, and in fact millions have died. That’s a fact.

    The EU backed off its DDT ban in October, see the <a href=”http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=19127
    ” rel=”nofollow”>Heartland Institute.

    So here we have an example of “empowered individuals” doing what they do best, flogging destructive public policies because some Pied Piper has talked them into it, in the name of keeping those rapacious corporations from polluting our air and water.

    Where is it written that the “empowered” but still ignorant individual is a better source of sound public policy than the expert, whether said expert works for an evil corporation or a saintly non-profit?

    Of course, we’ve seen this dynamic many times before: the whole net neutrality scare was another example of ignorant people rising up to protest an essentially beneficial evolution in Internet services. Fools have always found ways to make themselves heard, and it’s sad that the Internet makes it so much easier.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Seth, I see you’re unfamiliar with the DDT ban and have latched on to a weak web page to try and refute it. In fact, the DDT ban has two aspects: the EU and certain other trading blocks refuse to import food from countries that allow DDT use, and the USAID refuses to fund DDT for mosquito eradication. As a result of these two policies, malaria has made a comeback in Africa since 1972, and in fact millions have died. That’s a fact.

    The EU backed off its DDT ban in October, see the Heartland Institute.

    So here we have an example of “empowered individuals” doing what they do best, flogging destructive public policies because some Pied Piper has talked them into it, in the name of keeping those rapacious corporations from polluting our air and water.

    Where is it written that the “empowered” but still ignorant individual is a better source of sound public policy than the expert, whether said expert works for an evil corporation or a saintly non-profit?

    Of course, we’ve seen this dynamic many times before: the whole net neutrality scare was another example of ignorant people rising up to protest an essentially beneficial evolution in Internet services. Fools have always found ways to make themselves heard, and it’s sad that the Internet makes it so much easier.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Damn broken link. Here’s <a href=”http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=19127
    ” rel=”nofollow”>the real deal.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Damn broken link. Here’s the real deal.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    This is not going well. Once more with feeling.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    This is not going well. Once more with feeling.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Richard, you hit several “bingo” points on the page I linked above. You don’t care. That’s what I call “autorant”.

    One of us has to be wrong. Which one? DOES IT DEPEND ON EVIDENCE??? Or what’s more popular or appealing?

    This is why there’s no great gain in certain areas from the Internet. Because “fools” are “empowered” as much as experts, and there’s more of the former than the latter.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Richard, you hit several “bingo” points on the page I linked above. You don’t care. That’s what I call “autorant”.

    One of us has to be wrong. Which one? DOES IT DEPEND ON EVIDENCE??? Or what’s more popular or appealing?

    This is why there’s no great gain in certain areas from the Internet. Because “fools” are “empowered” as much as experts, and there’s more of the former than the latter.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Right, your bingo page is a load of crap and it’s easily provable by reference to pages from authoritative sources.

    And there certainly is no gain to empowering the fools who lobbied for the DDT ban.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Right, your bingo page is a load of crap and it’s easily provable by reference to pages from authoritative sources.

    And there certainly is no gain to empowering the fools who lobbied for the DDT ban.

  • http://blog.6thdensity.net Jeremy

    I consider myself a libertarian, but I gotta side with Seth and Siva on this one. It’s funny: you can see the internet in terms of both individual empowerment or group consciousness and will. Right and left will gravitate towards which phenomenon they think is more significant, but there’s no reason to diss the other side: it’s a reason to find ways to better collaborate.

    There are libertarians who are concerned about corporate control of these interactions, and they’re not necessarily commies for using the word “collective”. In a lot of ways, Google profits at my (site’s) expense (bandwidth from GoogleBot, to begin with) and it’s correct to point out that just because somebody’s making money off of it doesn’t mean people are empowered in equal fashion (because we don’t live in a free market and the world isn’t fair).

    Besides, I really don’t expect an establishment mouthpiece like Time to be honest about my empowerment.

  • http://blog.6thdensity.net Jeremy

    I consider myself a libertarian, but I gotta side with Seth and Siva on this one. It’s funny: you can see the internet in terms of both individual empowerment or group consciousness and will. Right and left will gravitate towards which phenomenon they think is more significant, but there’s no reason to diss the other side: it’s a reason to find ways to better collaborate.

    There are libertarians who are concerned about corporate control of these interactions, and they’re not necessarily commies for using the word “collective”. In a lot of ways, Google profits at my (site’s) expense (bandwidth from GoogleBot, to begin with) and it’s correct to point out that just because somebody’s making money off of it doesn’t mean people are empowered in equal fashion (because we don’t live in a free market and the world isn’t fair).

    Besides, I really don’t expect an establishment mouthpiece like Time to be honest about my empowerment.

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