The Internet wouldn't have stopped Hitler

A Nobel Prize winner believes the Internet may have stopped Hitler in his tracks, but this is unlikely, given modern history.

As The Guardian reports, Nobel Prize-winner Jean-Marie Gustave le Clezio suggested during his acceptance speech:

Who knows, if the internet had existed at the time, perhaps Hitler's criminal plot would not have succeeded - ridicule might have prevented it from ever seeing the light of day.

Sounds great, until we consider that criticism and ridicule didn't keep the U.S. out of Iraq. It didn't stop Russia's Putin from going into Chechneya. Indeed, though the Internet has presumably made us far more globally aware, it seems that it has not made us any more intelligent or wise.

Maybe these and other conflicts would have been worse without the Internet, but the global media didn't ease Rwanda's burden in its day, and arguably the Web isn't any better than the TV at averting violence. Indeed, it's possible that the Web would simply have made Hitler's genocide more efficient in locating his victims.

It's a nice thought to pretend that the Internet helps us to collaborate toward peace, but that's all it is: thoughtful fiction.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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