In the MIT Technology Review, Tim Hwang explores the similarities between early Christians and Russian revolutionaries with 21st-century digital evangelists evangelists answering the cry as to what went wrong with the Internet. Hwang looks at all four of the ways idealist explain what happened.
The question is, do these tribes matter? Or are the Pessimists ultimately right that the internet is essentially destructive to society? Does the flowering of DFIO cliques, as Slezkine’s book suggests, simply represent the final throes of a dying movement?
I say no. Both Optimism and Pessimism make the mistake of assuming that the internet has inherent features, but like any technology conceived of and built by humans, it is shaped by human struggles, by the push and pull of a multitude of interests and schools of thought. What’s needed is a coalition around a New Optimism—one that celebrates what’s working, is honest about what isn’t, and articulates a path forward grounded not so much in technological fixes as in a richer understanding of trust, identity, and community.
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