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Perhaps he was reading the netroots

The estimable Tory Fodder commends this funny little Dilbert cartoon, which makes an awfully good point. But it also provoked some memories. Computer nerds my age and older are often wistful for the early days of the Internet. When you’d find a nice corner of ExecBBS or Compuserve—or perhaps venture out onto the world wide web at large—and end up discussing technology, politics, and everything else with other users who, it invariably turned out, were incredibly intelligent and articulate.

Shuffle into a chat room, ask someone how to resolve the IRQ conflict with your SoundBlaster 16, and they’d tell you precisely how to reposition the DIP swiches. Duck into a bulletin board and ask for informed recommendations on a good recording of Mahler 9, and that’s what you’ll get. Bliss!

I am an ardent believer in the inherent intelligence of societies and the ability of intelligence to grow and expand as societies discover better ways to network. The Internet virtually requires honest observers to admit these things. But is it possible that the Internet—mankind’s best example yet of controlled chaos—has lasted so long because for all of its formative years, it was the exclusive demesne of technology elites, who forged the mores which endure even today—who coaxed from the chaos some sense?


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