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Is the Internet moral

I’m talking on Sunday morning at my brother and sister-in-law’s local Ethical Culture chapter in Maplewood, NJ. My topic is “Is the Internet moral?” My sister-in-law, Meredith Sue Willis, posted a notice on the local community bulletin board, immediately drawing a bunch of well-earned contemptuous comments. Lively, to say the least.

I gave a talk at DAMA on Wednesday where someone reminded me about a piece I wrote in 2000. It lays out what I plan on saying on Sunday (skipping the non-moral metaphysics parts). I also realized how much it lays out what became Small Pieces Loosely Joined. (I hate the beginning of the piece. Bad bad writing.) [Tags: ]

8 Responses to “Is the Internet moral”

  1. From those comments:

    “the internet is an inert object that carries no ethos or morality. the question is flawed.”

    How you view life depends upon your point of view and how you define things. If you look at the Internet as just technology then yes, it is a flawed question.

    We ourselves use the Internet and we are what make it so great though. Thus we ourselves are a part of it. Therefore the question of “Is the Internet moral?” would be to me like asking “Are people moral?” Overall, on the most part, I think they are and even more so I think the Internet is helping to prove this.

  2. The Internet is just this big dumb spidery thing. It has no heart, no brain, no greed and charity and no ethics. Neither do telephones, TVs, email or UPS infrastructures. But then the people using these networks are pretty smart, mean, magnanimous and sometimes unethical–or so it seems to me.

  3. The Internet is just this big dumb spidery thing. It has no heart, no brain, no greed and charity and no ethics. Neither do telephones, TVs, email or UPS infrastructures. But then the people using these networks are pretty smart, mean, magnanimous and sometimes unethical–or so it seems to me.

  4. The Internet is just this big dumb spidery thing. It has no heart, no brain, no greed and charity and no ethics. Neither do telephones, TVs, email or UPS infrastructures. But then the people using these networks are pretty smart, mean, magnanimous and sometimes unethical–or so it seems to me.

  5. Well, many people consider it a meaningful question as to whether Microsoft Windows is Satanic. So I suppose there’s precedent.

    But asking a question like “Is Industrialization Virtuous?” is usually rhetorical – or polemical.

  6. I actually don’t mean it polemically or rhetorically. I mean it in this sense. That piece anticipates the conclusion of Small Pieces. In a sentence: The architecture of the Internet and of the Web reflect some pretty basic Western values. (Of course, Western values aren’t the only values.) For me, the question is: What does “reflect” mean? How much influence does the architecture have on the upper layers? And I think that’s a really really hard question.

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