An editorial that speaks to our times. To me it is about the virtual (make believe or even feel good) world versus reality.
”Computers value information over knowledge or wisdom…and a world dependent on them may cause latter to disappear.”
”Does access to information balance the spread of divisive lies? Does “connecting the world” make up for atomized communities?” Is Agnostics.com an atomized community?
Computers don't value anything. they're machines. what people DO on computers is the point. the problem isn't that the people in question value information over knowledge or wisdom. it's that they have not learned to distinguish between facts and lies, and information that is mis- or disinformation is worse than no information at all (which is bad enough). a lot of folks think that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" means knowledge is bad. the key word in the phrase is "a LITTLE." i prefer to quote "information is power" -- but it is only power when one knows what to do with it (and of course if the information is factual, complete and in context).
in addition, i do not consider the computer to be connecting us only to the virtual world. there are real people out there (and in here). to you i'm something to read, but i'm a real person, and i am assuming you are too. yes, virtual worlds are among the destinations we can seek online, and i like a couple of those, as it happens, but i do not consider this site, for example, to be a virtual world. we're real people. we just don't necessarily live near one another, or perhaps wish to see each other (or be seen) naked at three in the morning while still wanting to communicate with one another. pretty much anything you can do nonviolently naked at three in the morning has my approval!
The last four decades of my "career" were devoted to computer technology: design, assembly, integration, programming, promoting. Looking at the state of the today's technology leads to the conclusion that my efforts contributed negatively to the well-being of humanity. I could have spent my time doing something far more worthwhile.
I think what most did not foresee is the addictive nature of what Bill Gates, back in the 1990s, used to refer as "information at your fingertips" (back when we were thinking in terms of CD-ROMs as the new medium of transmission).
The guy who invented the FB "like" button realized, belatedly, that he was creating a means for people to get little dopamine "hits", and that this would end up being used in Pavlovian ways by advertisers and idea-mongers. Now he crusades against it.
I do think the information revolution is more good than bad, that it's playing itself out and people are realizing it's unsustainable to be used in undisciplined ways. For example as a software developer I used to have about 20 shelf-feet of heavy, thick reference books in my office to research and learn new tech, now it's 100% online and that is way better. I can also audit courses at MIT for free, etc.
Is agnostic.com dividing people? I don't think so. It is certainly making it "easier" to be an unbeliever in a world that's mostly against freedom of thought. To find validation and support and community. The alternative -- feigning conformity and belief -- is certainly inferior to that.
As I read this I self-reminded that the next wave of information relay is on the way. The beancounters are still trying to milk the public with the old style radio wave transmissions equipment that will be replaced with lightwave technology. Which will start out with astronomical prices for the equipment.