Culture

Larry Magid: How we got here


Because they’ve been written about extensively, there’s no need for me to repeat how the internet – Facebook, Twitter and lesser-known sites like Gab and the now-suspended Parler have contributed to the division, vitriol and violence that has shaken our country. What I want to know is how we got here and

Larry Magid (Gary Reyes / Mercury News)

how we can get back to a conversation that leads to solutions rather than strife.

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Mea culpa

When I started my career as a technology journalist back in 1982, I mostly reviewed products, but I also wrote numerous articles about online services like CompuServe, The Source, GENie, and — a few years later — newcomers like Prodigy and AOL. I even wrote two books about all the great things you could do when you equipped your PC with a modem – the first, The Electronic Link: Using the IBM PC to Communicate, was published in 1984. A decade later Random House published Cruising Online: Larry Magid’s Guide to the New Digital Highways.

These books and scores of articles I wrote were extremely upbeat because I was awestruck at the enormous power and possibilities that these services offered. I was especially excited about forums and other online tools that let people from different parts of the world get together. I remember celebrating how great it was that people with common interests could find and support each other.

Back then I put very little thought into what could go wrong. I wrote an occasional piece about privacy and security, but it wasn’t until 1994 when I wrote my first publication about the potential danger to children, published by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children whose board I later joined and served on for 20 years.

Eventually, those online services gave way to the Internet which emerged as an option for consumers just in time to make it as a last-minute addition to my 1994 book. That was an incredibly exciting time for me because it opened up the possibility of a free flow of information where anyone with a connection – not even constrained by the likes of AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy, could interact with any other connected person anywhere in the world. Although I disagreed with parts of it, I was nevertheless supportive of the late John Perry Barlow’s Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, which began, “Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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