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David Weinberger Asks: Is The Internet Disappointed In Us?

December 08, 2015

By Engagement Lab (Roma Dash)

11/18/2015

Last Monday, as part of an Engagement Lab sponsored event, a packed theater of Emerson students were visited by David Weinberger, a prominent Internet thinker and American technologist, Co-director of Harvard’s Library Innovation Lab, Co-author of the best-selling book, The Cluetrain Manifesto, and an overall fan of everything that is the Internet.

“You open your dad’s glove box,” Weinberger said during the talk, “and you’ll find a map that was folded multiple times and a best of Abba CD that never goes away.”

His point was that the map provides the reader with a restricted amount of information. People can’t interact with the paper, can’t ask for shortcuts, can’t search for traffic density. Unlike smartphones or tablets; unlike the beauty of Internet.

He spoke for about 2 hours, followed by a Q&A session. The talk explained how his generation perfected ice cream and how the current one must perfect the Internet — must fight for its survival, its continuous improvement, and to ensure that it remains free and not hijacked by corporate pricing policies.

Weinberger, who has been published in a variety of journals including Wired, CNN.com, and The Atlantic, says the Internet has the power to shape us.

Many students who attended the talk mentioned that this was a refreshing change. A man coming in to tell them that no, the Internet isn’t evil, it is not killing everyone’s soul — in fact, it is quite the opposite.

The Internet helps connect people, lets them share ideas and link to events across the globe. A hashtag can spark a revolution or help people in times of need (1). The current generation, Weinberger said, has a responsibility to make sure that there are no more unnecessary laws with regards to the Internet. It was, is, and must always remain, free.

(1) Molly McHugh, “After Paris Attacks, Parisians Use Hashtag to Offer Shelter,” November 13, 2015, Wired.com, http://www.wired.com/2015/11/paris-attacks-parisians-use-porteouverte-hashtag-to-seek-offer-safe-shelter/

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