My good friend, Julian Estrada, wrote to me the other day regarding the subject of my television appearance. As usual, he sent me an incredible and insightful communication regarding it. With his permission, I'm reproducing it below in its entirety, and honoring him with the title of GUEST BLOGGER.
But even more exciting? He PROMISED he'd begin his own blog today!!! And yeah, I'm going to hold him to it!
I watched your TV interview -- you're very telegenic! (New career possibility?) Anyway, this is a very complex topic that shouldn't be limited to a four-minute piece. Also, I don't think that you and this Andrew Keen fellow are in complete opposition to each other.
The internet has introduced new risks to society, IMO, along with all the amazing enhancements it has brought to our lives. Because of the internet, it is now easier than ever to limit your consumption of ideas to a single, narrow perspective -- for example, if you're a Christian fundamentalist, you could spend all of your browsing time consuming Christian news, Christian entertainment, Christian politics, Christian advertising, and bogus scriptural interpretation. This wasn't really possible when everyone in the country got their news from Walter Cronkite and the New York Times. The mission of the "old" news media was to describe the issues, explore multiple perspectives, and connect the dots. With the introduction of cable news and especially the internet, consumers can pick the perspective they want and run with it, unchallenged. Thus, the rise of the internet may be fueling political polarization in the U.S.
Another very important point is that blogs and sites like Wikipedia provide a refreshing balance against content produced and marketed by large corporations. But these new formats can be hijacked by corporations in very insidious ways, as Keen says. Wal-Mart could hire people to edit Wikipedia articles. Google can be manipulated to return skewed results. I'm not sure how you can prevent this, but I think it's a real concern. America has a tendency to swallow up its dissident movements, repackage them, and sell them back to the citizenry. Witness the rise of "corporate blogs," such as the ones that BMC has introduced. "Corporate" blogs? That's not the way it was supposed to be . . .
My worst nightmare is that by enabling like-minded people to become even more like-minded, we are heading toward a dangerously polarized world -- particularly when religion is the subject. A visit to "Conservapedia" or "OneNewsNow" seems to underscore this fear.
Despite these problems, though, I must admit that the internet has brought me pleasure and enlightenment and experiences beyond my wildest dreams.
We'll just have to wait and see where things go, eh?