So here’s what happened. If you tell people you’re going to have this super-open, absolutely non-commercial, money-free thing, but it has to survive in this environment that’s based on money, where it has to make money, how does anybody square that circle? How does anybody do anything? And so companies like Google that came along, in my view were backed into a corner. There was exactly one business plan available to them, which was advertising.
In the real world we can creatively represent ourselves in dynamic ways. So, we can vary our gesture, our discourse, our posture, our fashion, life stories, the way we tell our stories. And all of this is with an astounding sensitivity to social context. Computer technologies like computer games, social networking, and virtual worlds are much more primitive than what we do in the real world.
We’ve got two paradoxical trends happening at the same time. The first is what I call in my book “the cult of the social,” the idea that on the network, everything has to be social and that the more you reveal about yourself the better off you are. So if your friends could know what your musical taste is, where you live, what you’re wearing, what you’re thinking, that’s a good thing, this cult of sharing. So that’s one thing that’s going on. And the other thing is an increasingly radicalized individualism of contemporary, particularly digital, life. And these things seem to sort of coexist, which is paradoxical and it’s something that I try to make sense of in my book.
My main point is that Internet technology today does not support the right of assembly, and therefore it cannot and does not support democracy. The reason is that even though we can easily form groups on Google, Facebook, you name it, we don’t know who the people on the group are.