An Internet Society

Because people have always been part of a society, and form them by nature, when the Internet came along a new society immediately began to form. This is both good and bad; the good part is that a society gives structure to an otherwise desolate "cyberworld," but the bad part is that, like any society, some voices will be louder than others. In the case of the Internet, the loud voices are not necessarily the most intelligent or knowledgeable people, they might just be the people with the best computers. As Peter MacDonald points out in his column "The Appalling Elitism of Cybersnobs," "The egalitarian free-for-all of the pre-Web Net was now being replaced by a series of pulpits. Those with the programming know-how - not necessarily those with the better ideas - took the spotlight" (71). This does not paint a pretty picture of the Internet. Once a benign place where people could go to share ideas, it now seems to be more preachy and less democratic.

Still, a vast majority of Americans are not online. The way to get computers more involved in society is not to make them undesirable. The attractive aspect of the Internet in the beginning was the idea that all people could speak as equals, as they could nowhere else. MacDonald says "If people who aren't yet on-line get the idea that being connected is expensive and difficult - and that when they get there, all they'll find are fancy infomercials - they'll stay away" (71). Although this does not sound like a big problem, it turns into a divider between those with technology and those without. At the same time people with money decide not to go online, they are turning themselves into informational have-nots, at a disadvantage when society is leaning more and more towards computers. David Autor, the head of Computers and You in Los Angeles, says that "technology is increasing economic disparities, essentially by empowering people who are already empowered to communicate and be educated and get all the great things a computer can do. It's not living p to the initial promise, that is to democratize information" (Ruben 18). Autor also says that the computerization of the work force over the past ten years has led to increasing disparities in income between college graduates and those who did not go to college (Ruben 18).

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