I recently had the opportunity to read one of the most well written pieces on how the internet, algorithms, and data are not only chaining our society and modes of living tremendously, but also allowing us to view ourselves in a new light. Two passages in particular stood out to me:
I’ve seen the best minds of my generation sucked dry by the economics of the infinite scroll. Amidst the innovation fatigue inherent to a world with more phones than people, we’ve experienced a spectacular failure of the imagination and turned the internet, likely the only thing between us and a very dark future, into little more than a glorified counting machine.
Am I data, or am I human? The truth is somewhere in between. Next time you click I AGREE on some purposefully confusing terms and conditions form, pause for a moment to interrogate the power that lies behind the code. The dream of the internet may have proven difficult to maintain, but the solution is not to dream less, but to dream harder.
The article is written from the perspective of someone interviewing at a marketing firm in Silicon Valley. For those that don’t know, advertising and marketing are quite literally the lifeblood of the internet; just about any website you read is able to stay online and produce content because of the ads they serve. Google and FaceBook make billions by serving you, their users, as products for advertisers to consume.
It’s refreshing to see someone from my generation take a moment to consider the meaning and purpose behind how the internet is evolving. I always love referencing the old analogy that the internet has put more intelligence into the palm of a kid in the rainforest than Bill Clinton had at any point during his presidency. I personally hold the belief that the internet, and the algorithms, networks, sensors, and data that accompany it have been a positive force in all of our lives. However, there is a cogent argument to be made for how quickly or how slowly we’re taking advantage of the vast potential that the internet has to offer.