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Mark Finnern

Wow Wayne,

You must have posted a minute after me. I hit the refresh button and there is your post.

It's a good one, although it would be so much stronger if you wouldn't do this crass generalization about Muslims. Come on, there are quite some Christian splinter groups that also believe in "being fruitful" and they will inherit the earth too right :-/

Best, Mark.

Nato Welch

The egocasting phenomenon might have some credit if the web were a broadcast medium, like most of the others we've invented so far. However, the prolific ability to cross-polinate media actually makes the Web the place where such pigeon-holing can be broken.

Yes, choice on the web, like choice of TV channels, tends to give people more excuses to settle into their preferred modes of experience. The more variety of programming you have, the more comfortable you can make even the most fringe tastes. The web, of course, by virtue of its trivial production costs, explodes the variety of content one has to choose from.

But there's more to it than that. If the web were more like TV, everyone would just have their own TV station. The web, however, has far more flexibility in its ability to mix up communications, introducing conversations instead of transmissions. There are far more opportunities for discussion, debate, conversation, interaction, and correction than in any other medium. For the perfect example, look no further than this very post. Try getting an instant response tacked onto the end of your favourite television program or newspaper column.

Once I started noticing this feedback capability, I started looking for it. Most sites that have it are primarily blogs, like this one, dedicated exclusively to the medium of the world wide web, and the openness of communication that it encourages. Because of this, they foster much more vibrant communications. The other sites - those that don't provide the opportunity to post unmoderated comments on items - tend to be old media companies, who retain, for the good of their business model, of course, very elitist, closed, ivory tower views on journalism.

Only on the web do people have the capability to open dialogs, and question assumptions with such ease and accessibility. As a result, they tend to, giving them unprecedented opportunities to explore alternative views. Many institutions see the web only as an extension of the broadcast content, for consumption only. If their model becomes the only one that exists, then "egocasting", as a theory, has a point to make about intellectual stratification and stagnation. In the meantime, We have posts to comment on, and threaded discussions to have. This is the true model of the web, and I think it has a bright future.

Peter Shaw

Firstly, I think we have to acknowledge that most of the population is already media addicted - they like to watch the TV, play video games, listen to their favorite songs - and they work to finance that habit. What the internet changes (especially the illegal parts of it) is the quality/density of entertainment and information access. In consequence, this changes the level of intelligence at which mere consumption is still able to satisfy. Normally, a smart person will just get bored with television.

There is however another aspect to consider. A person does not have fun in any way that it would theoretically be possible. Instead, there is a selection of satisfactional strategies. The results of such a strategy may be more or less beneficial to the individual or society, resulting in it being classified as an addiction or as a part of personality. Wanting to hang out with friends would be a personality trait - researching topics and writing on wikipedia might already be considered as an addiction by some - and regularily taking drugs is a pretty clear case. People's personal belief systems will prevent them from having fun in all but a few ways: A strictly religious person will not have recreational sex, a niveauful person will ignore everything not considered high culture, and a decent person will avoid taking drugs and be generally unhappy living a "bad" life.
The key here is: ignorance. We are only allowed to achieve satisfaction in certain ways - a bit like what Freud called sublimation. As long as we are sufficiently happy, we don't know and don't want to know about things outside that spectrum. The idea, that our personal way of achieving happiness is the one and only, is the core of religions, societies and our entire social life. Maybe more so than scientific truth, these delusions are cultural achievements!

So what conclusion do I come to?
In the near future: Between those who truly care, and those who seek the happiness propagated in peer groups, family and television; the typus of the media bastard will gain in strength. He looks through the deceptions and hypocracies of our time. But instead of seeking clarification or reform, he is satisfied consuming the fruits of current society. Through a pathologically broad view of the world, there is always something new to discover, learn and experience. He needs to be forced to work. When outside he cares about nothing but going back home. He is sarcastic and cynical, deep but playful. He has no need for advertised status symbols. Thus to motivate work, access to any kind of interesting information has to be subject of sufficient taxation. This, for me, is the real argument for enforcing copyright laws - not that artists couldn't be paid in far more efficient and fair ways.

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