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The two suggested readings, “When the Internet Thinks It Knows You” and “What Are People For”, focus on the relevance and purpose of the Internet, respectively. Indeed, the Internet has taken a key role in everyday life. Its ease of access and availability has connected people from different parts of the world with the help of just one click. As Naughton explains, the impact of the Internet on everyday life is significant and diverse, therefore, the majority of people want to use the Internet for their purposes.
The scholar explains that the desire for control over the Internet by politicians and other large corporations is eminent. Currently, there are various measures that have been put in place to ensure this control. Naughton gives an example of Instagram that tried to get the rights to all images that its users posted in their accounts. This essay considers the arguments purported in these two stated readings and their importance at both individual and societal levels.
Values Supported or Criticized in the Readings
Several values are supported and criticized in the readings. First, Eli Pariser, who wrote “When the Internet Thinks It Knows You”, argues that the Internet is a revolutionary power (Pariser). This statement supports the value of freedom of extensive communication using this medium (Internet). It is this power that has made different stakeholders fight to control the Internet. As Schneier explains, the war on the Internet has put the government and other large corporations against grassroots users, criminals, and hackers. This can be perceived as a critique of the medium and its impact on the general society.
The author goes further to criticize the Internet due to its inability to allow for censorship. It can be suggested that freedom has created a liberal society that is prone to manipulation at all times. Indeed, from Pariser’s readings, one can argue that even though the Internet offers great benefits, it has more disadvantages than advantages.
In “What Are People For”, Wendell Berry considers the purpose of technological advancement. The scholar argues that the main aim of the Internet and other technological advancements in the acquisition of money and wealth. One can argue that Berry supports the advancement of technology for the love of family, God, country, and community. Despite this support, he agrees that currently, many of those who want to control the Internet are doing so for the greed of money.
The scholar’s arguments resonate with those of Naughton, who states that the desire to control the Internet is purely for personal gain. Overall, just like Pariser, Berry suggests that the Internet has more disadvantages than benefits. This is specifically the case if the control of the medium is not monitored and becomes solely handled by governments and large corporations.
Individual and Societal Importance of the Values and Critiques
The values and critiques raised by both Pariser and Berry are important to me and to Americans. For Americans, these values and critiques are important as they reflect one of the growing concerns of society. Currently, Americans are struggling with the impacts of too much exposure brought on by the Internet. The arguments posed connect with several personal experiences I have had. First, freedom of communication is a fundamental right.
In a democratic society, freedom to the Internet is equally important. This is because the Internet provides a connection that no other communication medium offers. Additionally, one can agree that the use of the Internet and other technological advancements due to the love of family, God, country, and community is commendable (Berry). This is the value that would advance society. The premise is important as it can be considered a suggestion (societal level) for the proper use of the Internet. It can also guide the formulation of policies and guidelines for the same.
Looking at the critiques given, one can argue that they are equally important as they identify some of the reasons the presence of the Internet has led to the degradation of society. For instance, the use of technology and the Internet for personal and greedy ventures has led to an increase in the number of hackers and other cyberspace criminals. Drawing from a personal experience, one can state that the ease of connection between different platforms on the Internet (that ideally create the web) is dangerous.
Hackers and cyberspace criminals depend on these connections to engage in crime. For instance, people tend to tag their family members in their social media posts. A hacker looking for common passwords will investigate the tagged family members and use a combination of their names and their birthdays to come up with the user’s password. Afterward, other connections that the user has made on that social media account might become accessible to the hacker.
In conclusion, the discussion on the relevance and purpose of the Internet as presented by Eli Pariser in “When the Internet Thinks It Knows You” and Wendell Berry in “What Are People For” is engaging and eye-opening. Both scholars present several values and critiques of the use of the Internet. Overall, they believe that the Internet has many benefits. However, these benefits are only impactful if the Internet is monitored but not controlled. It is important to note that the scholars agree that currently, the Internet has more shortcomings than advantages.
Berry, Wendell. What Are People For? North Point Press, 1990.
Naughton, John. “Will the Internet End up Controlled by Big Business and Politicians.” The Guardian, 2012. Web.
Pariser, Eli. “When the Internet Thinks It Knows You.” The New York Times, 2011. Web.
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Schneier, Bruce. “The Battle for Power on the Internet.” The Atlantic, 2013. Web.