On one level, the Internet has become anti-intellectual because Web 2.0 collectivism has killed the individual voice. It is increasingly disheartening to write about any topic in depth these days, because people will only read what the first link from a search engine directs them to, and that will typically be the collective expression of the Wikipedia. Or, if the issue is contentious, people will congregate into partisan online bubbles in which their views are reinforced. I don’t think a collective voice can be effective for many topics, such as history--and neither can a partisan mob. Collectives have a power to distort history in a way that damages minority viewpoints and calcifies the art of interpretation. Only the quirkiness of considered individual expression can cut through the nonsense of mob and that is the reason intellectual activity is important.This quote resonated with me as it is very typical for us to follow blogs that share our sensibilities, become friends with people who look, act and think like us, and have friends and followers who share our beliefs. But in this collectivism Lanier rightly posits that individualism is crowded out which likely produces a non-vigorous non-rigorous anti-intellectual environment. What is actually happening on blogs, Facebook and Twitter? Is there a counter in the culture to social media?
The original turn of phrase was "Information wants to be free." And the problem with that is that it anthropomorphizes information. Information doesn't deserve to be free. It is an abstract tool; a useful fantasy, a nothing. It is nonexistent until and unless a person experiences it in a useful way. What we have done in the last decade is give information more rights than are given to people. If you express yourself on the internet, what you say will be copied, mashed up, anonymized, analyzed, and turned into bricks in someone else's fortress to support an advertising scheme. However, the information, the abstraction, that represents you is protected within that fortress and is absolutely sacrosanct, the new holy of holies. You never see it and are not allowed to touch it. This is exactly the wrong set of values.Information has no real value without integration and experimentation. Individuals are integrators and experimenters of information. Without individual voices their is no distinction. There is a lack of innovation and more importantly a greater possibility of destruction brought on by a mob mentality. History proves this.