Announcements Miscellaneous

The Internet’s Good, Bad, & Ugly

Thanks for another great evening of discussion and deliberation, and thanks to Kevin for opening up a broader discussion of the open web. By thinking through some of the issues that dana boyd brought to our attention in her On Being podcast, we started down our own #netnarr chat-path, with many loose stands of thought, revealing some of the significant challenges we face as we continue to navigate the world with the internet.

Hybrid pug-bunny?

I hope we can circle back to “cancel culture” with more collective reflection, and I also invite you to start formulating in your minds “an ideal experience” (what are your design wishes?) for fazing-in a new wave of instruction in the much anticipated post-pandemic university. What will our Fall classes and our overall return be like together? Let’s start to build a vision of “hybrid” class experiences – a vision of how our learning strategies can transform once again. How can we roll out a new way of doing things that is meaningful for all of us as a community?

Regardless of what changes are to come, … this stage it is a hard fact that the internet mediates how we live our daily lives. The pandemic has made that truth plain to see. The ubiquitous reality of the internet-as-our-pathway-to-connection is something we cannot turn away from at this stage, and I was never really one to turn away anyway (case-in-point: the 5 year evolution of the Net Mirror as “collaboratory”).

The open web and virtual networks have made our ability to stick with education possible. And it has made our ability to enhance our co-learning possible. And it has also made it possible to stick with people, our friends and our loved ones that we are unable to see face-to-face. But we must account for “the bad” and “the ugly”.

In the recent past, the frame for “the bad” has been the ever-present threat of “predatorial” and perverse forces that live out there just to trap you. The predator that lurks online has been the dominant frame for understanding the real problems with the open web. In other words, there are evil entities on the internet, and they can trap you and ruin you. And that might be true to some extent, although I am not sure that this frame of the embodied bad guy or “the predator” has been the best way to understand what danger lurks.

This predator formulation has not served us enough to prevent the real swell of another kind of evil – the power of disinformation to proliferate and persuade, to dismantle collective faith in democratic practice, and to inspire rage and violence in the name of righteousness. The problem lies in the force and sway of ideological persuasion which taps into real vulnerability and frustration – our ubiquitous societal inequity and fear.

The “ugly” of the internet is that this persuasion can be delivered seamlessly in the seductive context of community and belonging. And it can be mathematically engineered through our own tracked behavioral patterns with algorithmic precision. How do we find what we are looking for? The internet knows before you do. For so many, the internet delivers something that they don’t even know they are seeking. …..The next course of our #netnarr discussion will take us deeper into that understanding. And we must grapple with this truth together.

What is next?

Let’s start by thinking about the attention economy and data tracking by checking out Zeyneb Tufeki’s “We are building a dystopia just to make people click on ads” TED talk. Be sure to blog about it, and Sun will trailblaze our way to important questions as a follow up. I think a round of meme making together in Part 2 of class is also in order!

Also, remember to whisper if you feel compelled, and invite others to whisper into the Pandemic Whispers portal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.