When we dreamed of all the good the internet would do

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POSTED: December 15, 2016

I read a post in TechnoLlama this week which included the following quotation from an article in Time magazine, posted on Christmas day 2006 by Lev Grossman:

[2006 is] a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

He wrote this by way of explanation of why the Time had awarded the person of the year for 2006 to you for your involvement in creating the internet, and putting paid to tyranny. Grossman concludes by pointing out that

Web 2.0 is a massive social experiment, and like any experiment worth trying, it could fail. There’s no road map for how an organism that’s not a bacterium lives and works together on this planet in numbers in excess of 6 billion. But 2006 gave us some ideas. This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person. It’s a chance for people to look at a computer screen and really, genuinely wonder who’s out there looking back at them.

Now, ten years later, we might feel that we know how the experiment turned out, but I feel less and less certain that we do. More and more I feel that the experiment has begun to reveal some answers to “what it is like to be” people, and thus revealed the next area we need to explore.

But I would feel that, wouldn’t I?