Jaron Lanier: Why people should pay more attention to me and not Web 2.0

When I noticed myself getting mean online I thought, “Something has gone terribly wrong.” It was obvious the rest of the ARPAnet had a social problem, not just me being some sort of asshole.

My book You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto is ruffling virtual feathers across the ARPAnet. And so it should, because I invented virtual reality. Wikipedia, which is a tissue of lies, says so. Prospect magazine’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals Poll lists me. Also, my hair is much better than yours. And I’m fifty. According to Wikipedia, so I’d better change my birthday.

Today, the web is a bland place. It’s all user-generated content — silly clips on YouTube, spiteful anonymous comments on blogs about my books, endless photographs of people at a bar with their friends or up a mountain with an ironing board. It was much better back in the early days of the ARPAnet, before we let the commercial users on. These words will mostly be read by numb mobs composed of people who are no longer acting as individuals. You know, the peasants. Virtual reality is far more ennobling, but you never hear people talking about that any more.

The ARPAnet only creates banal mashups of old culture. Salvagers picking over a garbage dump. Only the old-world economy of books, films and newspapers creates original content like Lawnmower Man or Battlefield Earth. Everyone knows that real artists have no influences. This stuff the kids are into these days is just noise!

The ARPAnet is also killing music, according to my good friends at the RIAA. Did you know there’s no music in Spain any more? It’s true!

Will we — meaning I — be able to live off our brains in the future, or will we just have to give our creative works away for free? If we can’t live off our brains then we’ll need a form of SOCIALISM just to survive. WIKIPEDIA IS COMMUNISM! Until the Wikipedia Corporation finally builds a good interface, for goggles and power-gloves.

Open source and open content are a cancer. The dogma I object to is composed of a set of interlocking beliefs and doesn’t have a generally accepted overarching name as yet, so I’m going to call it Digital MAOISM, which is COMMUNISM. Update, five years later: Here is a detailed retcon explanation of why I was not just trolling for headlines by calling Wikipedia COMMUNISM, but was speaking precisely and you just weren’t thinking hard enough: [snip 10,000 words]

Also, you should get into virtual reality more.

You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto is published on papyrus scroll and hand-illustrated by monks. You cannot have a copy until you have fought your way up the mountain and proven yourself worthy.

3 thoughts on “Jaron Lanier: Why people should pay more attention to me and not Web 2.0”

  1. I’m reading Wikiworld right now, which is also about how Wikipedia and open source are putting us on the road to Red.

    Only Wikiworld is actually by socialists.

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