Questions for the author of “The Future of the Internet”

August 18, 2008

1.    Given that openness is a mature, systemic value of computing and Internet culture, describe a realistic scenario in which firm and government-interests transition us to the tethered appliance model that you say is looming.

2.    You advocate more Wikipedia-stye self-policing of Internet behavior to clean up this town and assure the firms that there’s no need to stifle generativity.  How is that realistically enforceable against the serious purveyors of malware and among a generation that has come of age thinking that information not only wants to be free, “it wants to be mine”?

3.    Let’s assume that generative computing holds the line against the appliances over the next decade.  What innovations do you see emerging?


3 Questions for Howard Rheingold

August 4, 2008

In your recent keynote address to the OhmyNews Forum, you comment on the impact of smart mob demonstrations in Korea, the Philippines, and Madrid. Yet, in the U.S. where we have maximum freedom to demonstrate and more citizen databases than we had when you wrote “Who Owns Who in D.C,” we have fewer demonstrations than we had 40 years ago — before we had either cell phones or databases. Why do you think that our greater transparency into politics and all of our smart mobbing technology aren’t converging to inspire more protests or, at least, more organized public confrontations with politicians?

In your OhmyNews address, you raise a warning about smart mobs being not-so-smart, and call for citizen journalism to do a better a job of fact checking and rumor squashing. While the self-vetting process that has evolved at Wikipedia seems to be very effective, Wikipedia doesn’t have the deadline pressure of OhmyNews. Do you see any citizen journalism models that are enforcing a professional-journalism level of factual accuracy?

One way to stimulate more social production of information would be to provide economic incentives for contributors, i.e., freeing them up a bit from their day jobs. Do you see any of the new currency systems you discuss in “The Internet and the Future of Money” as having the potential to meaningfully compensate contributors to social production projects?

Discussion questions on “The Long Tail’

July 14, 2008

1. Cite examples of Long Tail business success that have emerged in the two years since the book was published.

2. Agree or disagree: our ability to satisfy our niche appetites in the Long Tail is diminishing the cultural significance of “hits.”

3. Is cultural fragmentation a healthy development, or is the narrow pursuit of one’s personal taste, as Anderson quotes Christine Rosen as saying, “making us incapable of ever being surprised… [encouraging] not the cultivation of taste, but the numbing repetition of fetish.”  (p. 190)