To counterbalance the stories we regularly see about how the Internet makes us antisocial misanthropists, here is one that shows just the opposite: the Internet brings happiness. Well duh! CNET readers already knew that!
All joking aside, there is something to be said about information and happiness. Ignorance is hardly bliss when ignorance means not having access to research, news, entertainment, and one another. The popular belief seems to be that modern advancements do not make us happy but perhaps that is too technologically deterministic.
In The Wealth of Networks, Yochai Benkler writes that "technological determinism is false." He defines "technological determinism" as the expectation that technology in and of itself will produce a new social structure. By this definition, I agree. Technology does not change the world on its own merit. We take technology and adapt it to our lives in ways its creators rarely intended. Just because there is a new technology does not mean things will change.
A few cases in point:
MySpace: Started as a music service. Ended up the ghettofabulousness for the masses that it is today.
Facebook: Started as a way for Mark Zuckerberg to get a date. Ended up the opiate for the masses.
Twitter: Started as a text messaging service. Ended up a news and information stream of the personal and corporate news and updates.
I could go on. My point is that it is in't the Internet by itself that makes us happy, empowers us, or changes the world. It is the way we use the Internet that has the potential to make us happy. The antithesis is also true: there is a lot about the Internet that can make us unhappy. I feel that way every December when the search engines release their top search terms of the year.
Other links from Monday afternoon's show:
The American Heart AssociationNintendo
Roku gets the Ultimate Fighting Channel
Starbucks gives its Foursquare mayors discounts
The EU is set to fine nine chipmakers for price fixing