It is a fresh wind in the commercial and superficial world on the web. But for many it is probably easy to dismiss Siegel as one who has not understood the new medium, someone who dislikes almost anything on the web that include more than a few highbrows. And yes he makes a lot of simplistic arguments and he writes of Wikipedia in a way that I think he will regret when he takes a deep breath and reflect, the way he say that we should reflect if we did not increase our speed to keep up with the net...
I also think it is strange to celebrate the corporate media the way Siegel does. Of course there is a lot of really stupid content on the web, but there are also voices that never had the chance to make themselves heard in mainstream media.
In a way it feels as he is so eager to quote all the right people and show that no one of the web 2.0 icons are outside his reach. But it does not matter because he has some very valid points and I really hope a lot of bloggers/web2.0ers/though leaders/etc will read this book.
For each transition to a new medium people have cried out for lost values, and with time they look outdated and afraid of the “new”. It is as we are afraid to admit that each change brings both good and bad. This time we are, if current trends continue, about to lose the very idea of being human according to Siegel. Not because of the internet, but because internet reflects and enhance the existing trends in society. Coming from someone that most likely is not totally mad, this is important enough to deserve serious reflection.
To a large extent I think Siegel’s valid point boils down to the fact that we create a world without reflections, a world where the person who shouts the loudest get most of the attention. This is not only resulting in a world where almost all of the “information” is of questionable value beyond the thrill of looking into someone’s private life.
The serious issue here is that our opportunities to find support to go beyond our direct instincts (sex, fame and money) are the worst even in human history. I’m not sure that this is the case, but I must admit that I feel that this actually is the case. People are looking for media coverage, short sound bites, and things to “sell”… Using an economic language that excludes the very idea of humans as reflective and with an urge to go beyond the trivial.
Siegel’s ideas are actually not too far from those that triggered my idea to launch a large “beyond the blur”-project. I have still not made up my mind if that battle should take place on the web or only outside.
The Independent had this article. I like Jon Stewart and I laugh at his jokes, but maybe I, together with many others, laugh while we lose something important (the ability to talk seriously about serious questions)?