October 25, 2007

The Ribbon

One of the things that worries me about the internet is the naive and foolish belief that it has, and will continue to have, a substantially empowering effect on the individual.

Web advocates speak eloquently about how the advent of the internet has allowed individuals to influence communities, organizations, and enterprises in completely unique and original ways. While there is some truth to this, I believe it is diverting attention from a much larger and more pernicious trend -- the alarming corporatization of everything in our culture.

I used to get off an airplane and know where I was. Not today. Today Dallas looks exactly like Walnut Creek. The local news in Cleveland looks exactly like the local news in San Diego. The Gap in New Jersey carries the same stuff as The Gap in Miami. The radio station in Atlanta sounds just like the radio station in Seattle. I could go on.

We have become blinded by science. We are swimming in a sea of dis-empowering corporate homogenization so vast we can't even detect it. The shiny new thing that is dangling in front of us -- the web -- is masking the big picture.

For now, the internet seems an antidote to the malignant effects of corporate homogenization. This is because the intrusive reach and depth of Google, Facebook, et al, are not yet understood by the general public. This will change at some point. When it does, the web may be viewed as the ribbon that ties the whole corporate package together. If that happens, look out Mr. Google Shareholder.


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