I was hoping that Jonathan Zittrain’s The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It would provide a clear rejoinder to a four-way debate between Larry Sanger, Evengy Morozov, Jeff Jarvis, and Nathan Jurgenson about “The Rise of the Internet Anti-Intellectual”. Sanger is concerned that online communities have a history of hostility toward the experts and intellectuals. Sanger Recalls:
The problem is a persistant one. There is a grand symmetry to all of our politics. Any action falls onto one side, and given enough time and interest, there will be a mirror equivalent on the other side. These last few weeks, the main stream media has been trying very hard to wedge the Occupy Wall Street movement into this false narrative. There has to be a "right wing" equivalent of the Occupy Wall Street movement, right?! The obvious candidate is the Fox News/Koch Brothers/Glenn Beck creation called the Tea Party. This small, angry, well-funded kernel of misplaced anger has been held up by countless news outlets as the obvious point of comparison to the much less wealthy, but hugely popular, #OWS movement. Now they look very similar on the news, but that has more to do with how they're covered than what the actual participants have to say about their own politics.
I have a new post on Cyborgology about the new ways people are building social capital within the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Its less about the homogenious "vertical" ties of the mid-twentieth century that Putnam describes in Bowling Alone (Think Lion's Club or bowling leagues). Instead, we associate with much more diverse people based on very particular activities or causes.