Today’s readings include “The New Socialism: Global Collectivist Society Is Coming Online” by Kevin Kelly and “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism” by Jaron Lanier. While in general, Kelly seems fascinated by the positive improvements that collectivism can offer our digital and social environments, Lanier criticizes the collectivism he calls “hive mind” for what elements he feels are lost in the transaction- our personality, our voice and even our ability to discern. Before explaining the tension between their ideas, I will first start with Kelly’s perspective.
In his article, Kelly describes the communal function of digital culture, its collectivism, as a new form of socialism. This is because the digital exchanges are centered around social interaction, not ideology as the term “socialism” evokes at first glance. Kelly terms it “a sort of socialism uniquely tuned for a networked world” (Kelly 1). It is characterized by an interaction that- as we have learned in discussing networks previously- relies heavily on a widespread connectivity of individuals; the eventual ability to “connect everyone to everyone” (Kelly 1). It is the force dubbed “dot-communism” by John Barlow in the 1990s, derived of “free agents” and a lack of owned property (Kelly 1). Since the Internet functions as a global platform, this new socialism produces a world-wide egalitarian environment. The implementation of the Creative Commons alternative copy right liscence and the proliferation of file sharing have aided this growing communal digital landscape.