It has been a while since I have commented on a publication of the Maxim Institute, for the simple reason that I could not be bothered to read any of them. But now here comes the latest edition of Real Issues and its about Internet
The arrival of the internet in our lives has drastically changed the way we receive information and communicate. Where information flow once required people to meet in person to speak or deliver documents, we are now able to access far-away people and places at rapid speeds. With change come both opportunities and risks. The internet opens exciting opportunities for learning and relating, whilst also provoking genuine concerns about user safety and the amount of time people, particularly children, spend in the "virtual" rather than the "real" world.Before we go on, I cannot help but comment on the tone of this and other pronouncements by the Maxim Institute on new technology. There is something very Home Service about it all. Although TCP/IP is twenty-five years old, Maxim still talks of the arrival of Internet in our lives. It is as if Maxim received its Internet on bakelite-cased machines produced by the Empire Internet Corporation of Staines, Middlesex, England. But now we return to our scheduled broadcast.
You see, it's all about boundaries. Children need them when using Internet. Otherwise, they might end up suffering Internet Addiction, one of the most serious public health issues in South Korea. And we wouldn't want to end up like the South Koreans - eating all that cabbage and making the world's worst beer - would we? Maxim continues:
The reported incidents of internet addiction worldwide are small, yet they speak grave and important words to us, if we listen. They speak of people trapped in the cravings for instant sensation and connection. They speak of people losing an ability to function physically as the virtual world rules their head. And they speak of a society that builds internet cafes that are cheaper the longer you stay, and then watches as people sit for hours, interacting only with a computer. They are words that we need to hear, not to spark paranoia, but to recognise that responsibility is crucial in the way we interact with information technology. The problem does not lie with the internet. It lies with a boundless culture, instant communication and a glut of sensation. It lies with fickle beliefs and an inability to siphon information. Somehow we must slow down, turn off some switches and speak to each other again about how to be discerning.Rather rum, isn't it, how Maxim always talks about "society" being to blame for issues that are the responsibility of business? Society does not build Internet cafés - they are the work of private businesses. It is dashed funny how moral conservatives will always blame some cultural elite when an artist produces a work that offends, but never blame a business elite when businesses stuff up people's lives by exploiting them. I suppose that has something to do with the sources of funding enjoyed by morally conservative groups.
In any case, Maxim has little reason to demand boundaries on Internet. If it were not for wild and free surfing, Maxim would be nothing. All that "research" Maxim presented to Parliament was found on Internet by Maxim staffers who knew nothing of the areas in which they pretended to specialise. They just visited other conservative web sites and stole their lies. Internet also allowed Bruce Logan to steal the words of other conservative commentators. Of course, it also allowed me to discover what Brucie was doing; besides, my information source within Maxim, Harriet (the spy), could only do that thing she did because of Internet.
You see, that's the great thing about a boundless Internet - anybody can use it. We don't have self-appointed and self-interested moral guardians like Maxim setting the boundaries for us.