The Difference

The emergence of participatory journalism and the blogosphere provides further evidence to the only saying I truly believe in: Overall, things do not get better or worse…they just get different. The best in the blogosphere comes with the worst in in the blogosphere. The blogosphere has emerged and the world has changed, but it is meaningless to say things are better or worse off than they were before.

To those who argue that this is true democracy, I might agree, but I would not necessarily agree with their unstated belief that this is also better. The vast majority of content out there is inane chatter, much of it misspelled, with a deplorable lack of grammatic consistency. If and when this phenomena becomes the basis for a world government, we will at times wish for the quaint problems of the nation-state era. We enter a world of memes bypassing their usual course from the brain to the body to physical media to other bodies and finally into other brains. We instead face brain-to-brain memetic transfer, complete with incredible efficiency gains and frightening control issues.

And to those who argue that rapidly converging technologies and communication will vanquish anonymity with metaphorical barcodes on our foreheads to track our every move and thought, I might agree yet again, but I would not necessarily agree with their often stated belief that this is worse. Great progress can be made by knowing precisely where every atom resides in relation to every other atom, or every meme to every other meme.

What results is the real future, the one that is neither utopia nor dystopia, but another realm more fantastic than our imagination can create. That future comes with new wonders and new challenges, only on a greater scale than those we experience today.

What we are today as humans could not remain the same if either utopia or dystopia were to result. That neither will is something even more terrifying. The only metaphor I have been able to come up with that approaches that feeling is the idea of falling up. When you fall up, you fall into infinity, and the madness that results, the madness that is the child of awe and terror, is something no human today can handle. The madness will make all the difference.

Virtual Crime

Why isn’t cyberspace a sanctuary from the real world’s problems? New Scientist reports that a man has been arrested for using unbeatable bots in an online computer game to attack and mug the virtual avatars of human players. After stealing their virtual valuables, he turned around and sold them on an online auction site.

The article mentions rumors about escalating bot wars and organized syndicates behind other virtual attacks. But another article, this time on Wired, suggests that we might want to be careful before jumping to conclusions. Is this an isolated case or the end of Internet innocense (it was never innocent). In the Wired article, the reporter wonders where all the evidence is for organized crime and terrorist being behind pirated media.

Are we creating monsters where none exist? The answer will likely be yes. We do that all the time. But some monsters truly do exist, and it is certain that those who commit crime in the real world will not hesitate to do so in cyberspace. Where all this leads puts the “future” in the future.