Jaron Lanier: The Web’s "Digital Maoism"


Jaron Lanier was there in the morning of the digital age, when everything was thrilling and new. He was a thinker and an artist and a programmer turned on by the Internet revolution.

Now, he’s not so sure. What looked liberating may be enslaving us, he says, to a kind of aggregated, collectivist “hive mind” online.

“Digital Maoism,” he’s called it, making digital peasants out of Googlers and Facebookers. Stealing individuality. Reducing us to mush.


This hour, On Point: a warning on the web.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Jaron Lanier joins us in our studio. A computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author, he’s a pioneer of “virtual reality,” and was a founding contributing editor of Wired magazine. His new book is “You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto.” You’ll find related materials on his website, and you can read an excerpt here.

Also in our studio is David Weinberger, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He is a co-author of the 2000 bestseller “The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual.” More recent books include “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” and “Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder.”

Closing segment: Earthquake in Haiti

Later this hour, we turn to the situation in Haiti following the devastating earthquake there yesterday:

Joining us from Miami is Carol Rosenberg, foreign correspondent for The Miami Herald. She’s part of the team that’s been reporting on the earthquake since news of it first broke yesterday afternoon.  You can follow their latest coverage here.

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