“the Internet is counterproductive to peace”

Hey it’s not me, it’s John Perry Barlow saying that in a recent interview. He precedes this by saying, “There are a million virtual streetcorners with a million lonely pamphleteers on them, all of them decrying the war and not actually coming together in any organized fashion to oppose it. It strikes me that existing political institutions — whether it’s the administration or Congress or large corporations — only respond to other institutions. I don’t care how many individuals you have marching in the streets, they’re not going to pay attention until there’s a leader for those individuals who can come forward and say I represent the organization of those individuals and we’re going to amass the necessary money and votes to kick you the hell out of office. Then they pay attention. But not until. And so right at the moment it would strike me that the Internet is counterproductive to peace.”

Wow! Great quote!

John Perry Barlow, if you are not familiar with him, is co-founder of the Internet-legendary Electronic Frontier Foundation and a former songwriter for the Grateful Dead.

The interviewer says he’s shocked that Barlow would say this. He should read David Shenk’s 1998 classic, “Data Smog”. Time to read Bowling Alone. I’ve been putting it off for a little too long.

Update: Some Slashdotters take it personal while at MetaFilter they argue themselves into a circle.

Will there be a mass movement to utilize tools like MoveOn.org or will the prevailing me-too trend continue where individuals refuse to come together and decide to create their own competing efforts? Everyone shouting the same things – but seperate from each other. Barlow says there needs to be a leader to represent an institution. What I think he fails to see is that we’ve been taught not to trust leaders, even from amoungst us. Leaders fail and leaders fall. So do institutions. So we go our own way and trust in only ourselves. You can’t attribute that to the Internet. It’s the way our generation thinks. Decentralized. Individualized. The Internet is an expression of that. A multitude of choice and the freedom to us it.

The demographic trends do not favor one-size-fits-all news products,” said Peter Francese, founder of American Demographics magazine, which tracks population changes. “There isn’t one community to serve. It’s gone. … It’s now a matter of serving niches rather than trying to be all things to all people,” he said.

That’s from an article about 18-34 year olds rejecting traditional media and switching to the Internet for their news. The same trend has taken place in TV and Music. More choices. Smaller audiences. Less and less shared experience and information. It’s all out there – but it’s up to you to find it or the martketers to find you and lead you to it.