[Humanist] 31.83 not good enough

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Jun 6 11:03:32 CEST 2017

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 83.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2017 09:49:39 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: not good enough

In the wake of the latest terrorist attack in London, the Scottish novelist
and editor Andrew O'Hagan spoke on Radio 4 this morning about the Internet.
He recalled the millenarian hopes for it during his youth and contrasted
them with what has become of it in the hands of those with evil intentions.
His conclusion (spoken in sorrow) was that "We are not good enough as people
to have an unrestricted network". We need "a battalion of mindful editors"
to regulate it, he said. 

Perhaps neither seems surprising now; once, as O'Hagan remarked, the
Internet seemed to many a cure for the world's problems, as indeed the
telephone did in its early days. But the darkness visible of terrorism isn't
the only sign of the times. I think, for example, of that unmoderated online
forum recently shouted down during a discussion of the word 'motherboard'
and then shut down to figure out where from here. Yes, professionally we
live in a sheltered world, but the problems at the root of seemingly minor
annoyances are very real -- and applicable out there, where people run
mortal risks.

Consider that the "battalion of mindful editors" requires the recruitment
and training our universities should be able to give, indeed should be
giving. But they are crippled, as social anthropologist Marilyn Strathern
wrote in 1992, by an Enterprise Culture which "like a slick that smothers
everything in shine" gives us workplaces "where students are supposed to
mean numbers, public accountability must be interpreted as resource
management, and education has to appear as a service for customers" [*].



[*] Marilyn Strathern, "Introduction: Artificial Life", in Reproducing
the Future: Anthropology, Kinship and the New Reproductive Technologies
(Manchester University Press, 1992): 8.

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western Sydney
University and North Carolina State University; Editor,
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20)

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