When Wikipedia first came out, I had the typical academic response to Wikipedia – don’t use it, especially don’t cite it. I mean, how can something legitimate come out of a source that can be written by anyone with an internet connection, the same internet where no one knows that you are a dog and that has produced such phenomena as Rebecca Black, Michael Jackson-dancing inmates, and has given new life to Rick Astley.
This is a presentation given by anthropologist Michael Wesch, the only anthropologist to have a #1 viewed video on Youtube (however brief such an achievement is in cyberspace). While this video is long, you may want to also check out his other videos.
Like cravings for sugar, anthropologists have argued that human beings have a craving for information – the human hunger for knowledge can be seen as an evolutionary adaptation, something that helps us survive. The question for today is whether this trait is now possibly harmful, with the tremendous amount of information now available on the web.
The question now rearing its head is whether we now know too much. Does the recent explosion in available information, primarily thanks to the internet, bring dangers we have not anticipated? Bostrom fears that it might. “Research and education have become like motherhood and apple pie: harmless, wholesome and completely unobjectionable,” he says. “It behoves us to develop a more reflective and qualified view about the value of knowledge.”
Read the full article from the New Scientist.
In response to “a highly sophisticated and targeted attack,” Google decided to stop censoring google.cn, attacks from within China that Google must have decided are somehow linked to efforts by the Chinese government. In China, Google is not the number one search engine (that title belongs to baidu, a Chinese search engine), and Google has also been fighting Chinese claims of copyright infringement of Chinese books that were posted on Google Books.
The Washington Post reports:
Until now, Western companies and governments have mostly gone along with Beijing’s polices — though U.S. computer manufacturers successfully resisted an attempt by China last year to require that censoring software be pre-installed on all new computers. Now Google has taken the admirable step of embracing open and public resistance. Skeptics point out that it was losing the search market battle inside China to the domestic brand Baidu. But Google.cn still attracts tens of millions of Chinese users, who will have questions for their government if the company is driven out. U.S consumers, for their part, should want answers from companies such as Apple and Microsoft, which continue to kowtow to the Chinese censors. Internet activists say Microsoft censors Chinese language searches of Bing both in and outside of China; Apple has blocked Chinese from downloading applications related to the Dalai Lama