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The Subtle Negative of the Internet

August 9, 2011

One of the themes I explore in my novel Nanomagica is our propensity to implement world-changing technologies without due consideration of possible negative implications (nanotechnology and genetic engineering in the novel). We have a propensity in this society to let the dollar direct and accelerate implementation of these kinds of technologies, even when the negatives have been stated. The automobile changed the demographics of our planet by allowing people to travel longer distances routinely. But it also introduced traffic congestion, the traffic accident, smog, and other negatives that we are now forced to spend money and time to mitigate.

Consider the internet. Had the implications of viruses, worms, and cyber attacks been considered up front, would the internet’s inner workings be different? I contend that it would. The anonymity characteristic of the internet has allowed these negatives and has inhibited the potential of the internet for business. There are many people who do not trust the internet with their money and recent cyber attacks have further eroded what confidence there is.

A more subtle negative of the internet is the erosion of journalistic standards. To be fair about this, the advent of cable television began this trend with journalism undergoing a subtle change from factual reporting to increased amounts of opinion journalism. But the internet has exacerbated this trend by allowing a forum for anyone to state their views, fact based or not. And it is an unfortunate part of human nature to latch on and cling to statements that fit into our ingrained ideology regardless of factual basis.

The blame for some of this must fall on the traditional news outlets for abandoning many years of rules regarding reporting of facts based on checks of multiple sources. Even the networks and news services have been caught stating “facts” that started in these unregulated blogs without checking for secondary sources.

What is needed is a new set of journalistic standards for the internet age that are taught in our schools to our new generation of journalists and adopted by our news agencies so that it becomes easier to differentiate between news and opinion and between fact and ideology.


  1. “The medium is the message.” Thus I believe the human brain is evolving to adapt itself to new technologies… strengthening some areas and weakening others. Independent thinking is going by the wayside ; “groupthink” plays a more and more significant role in global social change as there is strength in numbers and the immediate gratification of global reinforcement.

  2. Traditional journalistic standards are GOOD. They would apply to the internet, as they would to other media. However, consumers trend toward specialized reading/viewing based on their mindsets and interests. The audience is just as much at fault. Sponsors, advertisers buy what sells. It’s the old chicken or the egg argument.

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