Nurturing mass-based politics online

Wired magazine, early 1990s

Writing this piece on the eve of the national elections on May 9, I think all will agree that the presidential and vice-presidential contest has been the most bitterly fought since the 1986 snap elections.

The fight has been a no-holds-barred grudge fight. Chances are it will continue that way until Election Day, and probably even beyond. Several factors have created this situation. Mindful of column space and time limitations, I should mention at least three highly influential factors.  Continue reading “Nurturing mass-based politics online”

Internet love and nerdy thoughts on a rainy night

Sometimes, like a youth wistfully pining for a lost teenage love on a rainy night like this, I’m stricken by an irrational wish for the online world to revert back to 1992-1994.

Twenty years ago, the BBS community was earthy and robust, and the Internet was young and full of promise. Back then, I was a wide-eyed online newbie fumbling with a 2400-bps modem and AT commands. My computer was a clunky Toshiba laptop running on DOS, with an RJ-11 jack, an RS-232 serial port, and two 3.5″ floppy drives with a total 2.8 Mb active storage space.

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Facebook is just a promenade

Wired to the Internet
Wired to the Internet, live on the Web. Choose to plug into Facebook, or not. It's your choice. (Image from

I’ve been reading and hearing a lot of philosophical analyses and streetwise observations about Facebook—many of them excellent insights but a few mediocre ones too. Twenty years ago the talk was about the Internet itself. Then 10  years ago it was about the explosive growth of the Web. Now everyone’s trying to define social media, especially Facebook.

I think the simplest way to describe Facebook is in terms of road systems. Think of the Internet as a network of roads, originally designed for quick military deployment but soon expanded to accommodate all kinds of civilian use. Now think of the World Wide Web as an immense assortment of useful (and some not so useful) structures—sidewalks, benches, stalls, stores, markets, supermalls, skyscrapers, parks, parking lots, billboards, office and apartment buildings—that proliferated along the more accessible parts of this road system. It’s still based on the underlying road system, but it’s now a fast-growing city.

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