I guess the question that occupies my mind a lot these days is:

Can we build a healthy, positive, life-affirming Internet?

I feel like large parts of our Internet infrastructure are toxic to mental health and social freedom and were designed that way on purpose, because the system seeks money, and you get more money by controlling people than by allowing them to flourish and reach their full potential. This has always been capitalism's big problem (and socialism's too).

@natecull The internet isn't inherently good or evil. That's determined by what people do with it. If you want to create an internet that can't be used in bad ways, I don't think that's possible, at least not if you want it to be useful at all.

@mansr

"The internet isn't inherently good or evil. That's determined by what people do with it. "

No, I don't subscribe to that view of technology at all.

The idea that technology is "value-neutral" is itself an idea (and ideas are themselves technologies), and it's an idea that I don't think is value-neutral.

I think every technology has a shape. It imposes that shape on us, making some acts/thoughts easier, and others harder.

Our tools shape us. We should care about what that shape is.

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@natecull Is a hammer good or evil? You can use it build a house (good), but also to kill people (evil).

@mansr

Again I'm trying to tell you: "good" or "evil" are not the useful terms here. But "shape" and "affordances" are.

A hammer is a device for applying sharp mechanical force.

It is not going to be very good at, maybe, stirring mud. So it's going to make certain types of construction techniques more likely than others.

Metal tools may have been the first step that led to the climate change cataclysm we now face. Was that inevitable? Perhaps only if we never ask 'is this next step ok?'

@mansr

It turns out that we can commit a genocide or kill an entire planet with a long chain of very small steps. People don't jump immediately to "let's kill all the whales" or "let's kill all of <people group X>", but they can do it slowly.

We probably need to get into the habit of questioning even small steps, each of which seem improvements to our lives and the logical outcome of the last one. At least to be aware that there may be alternate steps and unexpected outcomes at some points.

@natecull By that reasoning we should never do anything at all, because anything we do just might, 10 million steps later, result in something horrible happening. Then again, not doing something might also have unforeseen catastrophic outcomes. I don't think fear of the worst possible indirect consequences is a particularly good basis for decision making.

@natecull The internet is just a bunch of computers wired together. It has very little inherent shape. Indeed, various uses of it present very different shapes. Pick those you like and ignore the rest. I can't help getting the feeling that your real gripe, whether you realise it or not, is that people at large don't share your personal values. No technology is ever going to fix that.

@mansr
At the 30c3 (2014?) there was a really nice lecture "No Neutral Ground in a Burning World", where the presenters argued that technology is not good, or bad, or neutral.

Personally I agree with, or at least concur with @natecull 's statements. Technology, protocols, language all moderate what we can do - sometimes limiting even our ability to imagine how things could be different.

Why are we using HTTP client/server model, is that the best we can do ?

@cjd @natecull A tool enables certain actions and not others. If a given tool fails to enable an action deemed good, does that make the tool evil? No, IMO, it merely makes that tool limited. The existence of one tool does not preclude the construction of another.

@mansr @natecull
Personally, I've pretty much cut the words "Good" and "Evil" out of my thought process. Concept of ethics/morality exists to provide guidelines for co-existing in a society. I'm all for being a collaborative member of society but considering Good and Evil to be universal truth means almost always stretching metaphors beyond their usefulness.

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