Breathtaking stupidity

There’s way too much stupidity in the world to comment on all of it, but sometimes you see something that sets a new standard. The Cato Institute has commissioned Jaron Lanier to explain the Internet, and his contribution makes all the silly drivel written about it in the past look downright serious. Lanier’s main point is that the Internet is a social construct:

I hope I have demonstrated that the Net only exists as a cultural phenomenon, however much it might be veiled by an illusion that it is primarily industrial or technical. If it were truly industrial, it would be impossible, because it would be too expensive to pay all the people who maintain it.

Now it’s silly enough when left-feminist academics say “gender is a social construct” but this is downright hilarious. Lanier had something to do with gaming goggles once upon a time, but he’s basically illiterate and has no special expertise in networking. Cato is obviously over-funded and intent on wasting your time.

If you want to read a futurist of merit, check out Ray Kurzweil, a man of learning and intelligence who certainly won’t waste your time with a bunch of new-age drivel.

Coyote at the Dog Show has read Lanier’s essay, and he’s not impressed either. He mentions Lanier’s seemingly senseless attack on the concept of the “file” in computers. The revolutionary alternative that Lanier proposes is a time-indexed file, something that’s commonplace for video servers. Not exactly revolutionary, and not exactly well-informed.

If you don’t like files, folders, directories, and symbolic links, fine, throw all your stuff into a single common file and be done with it.

8 thoughts on “Breathtaking stupidity”

  1. I dunno ’bout Kurzweil, but Bart Kosko is …hmm… I better be polite, I might meet him someday…but it’s hard since I have a low opinion of his work…he’s the “fuzzy guy” you know…

  2. I think that the point is a subtler on than you give him credit for, and the criticism is a bit unfounded. The Internet as we use it IS a social construct – not the network itself, but the existance of web pages, the usefulness of email, and even peer to peer networking all rely on social interaction as much as they do technology. Technology is the backbone for the social structure that we built around it.

    The attack on pseudo-feminist drivel about gender as a social construct aside, I think that you greatly underestimate the insightfulness of the point Lanier is trying to make. A point that, by the way, I don’t agree with, but am careful not to dismiss out of hand.

  3. Clearly everything that humans use is a cultural phenomenon, but he doesn’t say that, he says that it’s ONLY cultural and not at all physical. That’s too idiotic for any rational response to properly criticize.

  4. Speaking of breathtaking stupidity & craziness, check out Joe Carter’s post today, especially the comments.

    Carter actually equates corpses with people (“If you cling to life so desperately that you’d eat your fellow man…”), by saying those stranded guys in the Andes shouldn’t have eaten their dead teammate & should have starved to death!

    So his culture of life evidently includes corpses.

  5. Christians are cannibals, aren’t they? I mean, that Holy Communion business is all about eating the flesh and blood of Jesus. Some would say it’s merely symbolic, but the sanctification is supposed to make the wafers and wine the literal flesh and blood, IIRC.

    And I agree with you that the requirements of survival trump all other moral considerations; if you’ve got an opportunity to live by chowing down on your fellow man and don’t take it, you’ve committed suicide and that’s a mortal sin.

  6. Symbolic cannibalism commemorating a revivified corpse…and yeah, that’s exactly my point. A corpse isn’t human, dammit! Even if you’re a Christian- that soul-thingy’s supposedly left the building, so to speak. And if you don’t eat it, unless it’s frozen in the Andes, bacteria and other critters will.

    And I thought our rights trumped theirs. Unless you’re Tre Arrow. He’d probably starve, too.

  7. I understand cannibals say humans taste like Spam.

    And anyhow, cannibalism is something that was practiced pretty much everywhere until a few thousand years ago, so I don’t figure I’d have too much trouble with it if my life actually depended on it.

    Beats suicide, in any case.

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