Does this blog represent digital fascism?

Blind obedience to any authority is dangerous. The only way to get the true story is by reading multiple sources, not just one. Assuming the wisdom of any single source -- whether Disney or ZDNet Open Source or Wikipedia -- is Clueless.

The question is rhetorical, designed to get your attention, and the answer is no.

But there's a real controversy here, namely a provocative column by Jaron Lanier calling things like Digg and Wikipedia "Digital Maoism."

Writing at Edge.Org, Lanier said his objection is not to the sites themselves, but the authority they are granted, and which their business cases seem to demand. (Before responding, I urge you to read Lanier's entire piece.)

No, the problem is in the way the Wikipedia has come to be regarded and used; how it's been elevated to such importance so quickly. And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy. This idea has had dreadful consequences when thrust upon us from the extreme Right or the extreme Left in various historical periods. The fact that it's now being re-introduced today by prominent technologists and futurists, people who in many cases I know and like, doesn't make it any less dangerous.

OK, then. Blind obedience to any authority is dangerous. The only way to get the true story is by reading multiple sources, not just one. Assuming the wisdom of any single source -- whether Disney or ZDNet Open Source or Wikipedia -- is Clueless.

And Wikipedia has its own problems, most notably in Lanier's own entry, where he complains some hoser keeps calling him a film director. (Wouldn't you know it, that reference was gone when I checked just now.) The process needs constant adjustment. More entries need to be closed.

Collective "wisdom" is only as good as the software and processes which deliver it. Google can be bombed, Wikipedia can be lied to, and blogswarms can twist your words into pretzels. Even YouTube can be abused.

And this is different from Disney how? Because it's an open process? That means we can correct it. Correction, attention, and constant work are the orders of the day. Not name-calling.

Constant vigilance is the price of freedom. And of wisdom.