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> The old idea of the online world as a burgeoning utopia looks to have peaked around the time of the Arab spring

The only people who thought the "arab spring" was a burgeoning utopia are western military, intelligence, and political elites.

Now those same people see these platforms as a threat and so the "respectable" media is full of anti-SV stories.

> it’s all automated; the owners of the system can’t possibly monitor everything that’s going on, and they can’t control it

Yes, that is the real problem: communications that can't be censored and controlled.




I'm not sure you read this very well. The notion is not that the Arab spring was a utopia. The notion was that the Arab spring, fueled by direct person-to-person connection on FB, Twitter, Whatsapp, etc, were symptomatic of the Internet's power to create freedom and social utopia.

It's part of a persistent strain of technoutopianism. You might read Tom Standage's excellent 1998 book "The Victorian Internet", which talks about the adoption of the telegraph during the Victorian era. Many of the same things people said about the Internet's power to change society were said about the telegraph: https://www.amazon.com/Victorian-Internet-Remarkable-Ninetee...


And it absolutely did, as did the Gutenberg press, the telephone, the radio and television. We just don't recognize it because we've never experienced a pre-telegraph life.


It did change life, but not in the utopian way people were thinking. People thought, for example, that the telegraph would eliminate war by connecting people and eliminating the possibility of the misunderstandings that come from very high-latency communication technologies (e.g., horses carrying handwritten letters). It turns out that part of pre-telegraph life not only continued, but got worse.


Telegraphs didn't have dopamine feedback loops via feedback such as "likes".


I'm not sure that's material to my point, but assuming you're just starting a tangent, I'd disagree. They had replies.

It was not as immediate and exciting as modern technology, but it was way more exciting than what previously existed. People even fell in love by telegraph. See, for example, the 1880 novel "Wired Love: A Romance of Dots and Dashes": https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/26/wired-love-romance...


Dopamine is not uniquely associated with social media.

Furthermore, dopamine isn’t addictive and “In studies with rats, where dopamine was suppressed, rats showed “normal hedonic reaction patterns,” and still showed normal pleasure responses even though dopamine was suppressed.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/women-who-stray/201701/n...


"Please don't insinuate that someone hasn't read an article."


The so-called Arab Spring was interpreted by the entire rest of the world that America can destroy a country purely by “cyber” warfare. That genie isn’t going back in the bottle.

But hilariously, America seems dead-set on using the same weapon on itself...


Not purely cyber warfare. The arab spring had well organized and well funded groups operating on the ground using social media tools as part of their efforts.

It is hard to say how much the social media (twitter especially) were really playing a role on the ground and how much they were being used for propaganda to shape opinion in the west.

The arab spring was when CNN and others started reporting on tweets like they were legitimate news, which obviously has to be a discriminatory process, because someone is deciding which tweets are news out of the millions that are not.

Someone decides that the tweets of atrocities on one side are news, while atrocities on the other side are not, and that the tweets "proving" that the first tweets were staged fakes are not news either.


> The so-called Arab Spring was interpreted by the entire rest of the world that America can destroy a country purely by “cyber” warfare

Considering how much support I saw from outside the US, I'm finding this hard to believe.


Considering how much support I saw from outside the US

Twitter is an American corporation, the users are its product. They did exactly what the platform incentivised them to do.


by... communicating with each other?

Users aren't the product, they're the revenue stream. The product is an easy to use communication tool.


FTA: literally changes your relationship with society

It’s a weapon that can totally disrupt a society to the point at which it cannot function. What else would you call what happened in Libya?


What happened in France, America, Britian, India, or a whole host of other countries that became unsatisfied with the power structure that was in place.

In history we mostly learn about the successful revolution, and rarely hear about the failed ones. In the recent past the Middle-East has a litany of failed revolutions.


Can't say about entire rest of the world but that is when Putin changed his domestic policy from more or less liberal to censoring internet etc.




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