The Blogospheric Order

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Interesting post over on Catallarchy on the blogosphere as Hayekian kosmos.

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  1. As readers become more dependent on organizational apparatuses such as Technorati, those apparatuses come to acquire control over the entire infrastructure of the Blogosphere, reducing the ‘liberty’ or ‘freedom’ of individual bloggers by enforcing rules meant to proscribe posts from individuals with political and social views that conflict with those of the juntos running the apparatuses.

    Corruption and greed win out, with democratic rule taking a back seat as those with greater pecuniary heft start throwing their weight around.

  2. Then Van Veen, other bloggers start up. If the state keeps its hands off of the Internet, it will continue to be a historically unparalleled gateway to free, robust exchange of information and ideas. There’s no limitations “out here,” save for those the “concerned authorities” might impose to “help us.”

  3. I’ve got to second that; it’s hard to think of another realm in which “pecuniary heft” is less important than the blogosphere. [Yahoo sure had more cash behind it than Google at the outset, but the latter quickly became the standard search engine.] And the authority of sites like Technorati is directly proportionate to their completeness. It’s hard to imagine them starting to exercise editorial control without losing ground pretty quickly. In general, this objection seems sort of cut-and-pasted, and not grounded in any particularly careful examination of how the online world actually works.

  4. In general, much of the technophiliac idealism appearing on reason.com seems thoughtless and uncritical. “If the state keeps its hands off..” -well, we both know the state isn’t going to keep its hands off [what were the limitations that FORCED government upon us in the real world, again?] and its not going to keep its hands off because the bottom-up processes transform into top-down processes as soon as power structures emerge, which consolidate influence into nodes and nodules (think of the government as a gigantic ‘node’ and companies as ‘nodules’).

    Convincing authoritarians of the benefits of a free society isn’t possible. Those authoritarians emerged as such as selection pressures acted on populations over time. They are the byproducts of universal economics.. and they’re not going to allow others to wrest control from them lest that control be used as a weapon against them in the future by unscrupulous “champions of liberty”.

    “Yahoo sure had more cash behind it than Google at the outset, but the latter quickly became the standard search engine”

    “At the outset” is the most important phrase in this sentence. Ever heard of loyalty? Habit? Consuetude? Surely you have – you spend much of your time impugning dunderheads who are too lazy and uncritical to see arbitrary customs and conventions for what they are. Gay marriage ring a bell?

    Your response was just as cut-and-paste as my original complaint was, so let’s try this again: what makes the web significantly different than the real world? What is going to prevent existing governments from interfering with the ‘free exchange of ideas on the web’? The somewhat belated realization that the free exchange of ideas facilitates innovation?

    Whence cometh your optimism, Julian?

  5. from for than, and sigh.

  6. “One of the biggest obstacles to overcome in convincing authoritarians about the benefits of a free society is their inability to accept the fact that order can can be an emergent property of individual action. For them, all facets of life have to have some sort of grand blueprint implemented by expert soverigns. The cannot conceive of the economy, culture, infrastructure, morality, or society itself as a bottom-up result of billions of autonomous individual actions. Yet, the blogosphere is a vivid example of how wrong they are.”

    Amen brother.
    Libertarians (not authoritarians) may be hardest to convince of the “invisible hand” of self-organization or order for free.
    Check out the Santa Fe Institute. Although they by training and upbringing represent the liberal bias of academia, they are laying a solid foundation for anarchy in spite of themselves.

  7. O.k., Van Veen and Ruthless, educate me: how will/can any government regualte who offers what online? Keep in mind the existence of the Netherland Antilles.

  8. Daze writes:”Not trying to make an argument for state control of the economy here. Just pointing out that this “blogosphere demonstrates how the free market can create wondrous things if government keeps its hands off” testimonial depends on a very selective, distorted version of internet history.”

    Well, yes. But so what? The govt had NO IDEA it’s funding would instigate “this,” but it did. And that would have happened, eventually, without. It was one of those few unintended consequences that went in humanity’s favor. (I mean, put money in smart folks’ hands, and great thigs do often happen; and no one was looking.)

  9. one significant difference between the “real world” and the internet in terms of publishing anything is the lack of traditional gates. don’t need a printer, don’t need a whole lot of equipment aside from a computer built in the last 10 years, or even a shitty portable laptop and a roving connection at any of the myriad “internet cafes” around the country. even if internet service was nationalized in the u.s. non-local hosting – another huge difference between ‘lectronic and paper publishing – one could still find an avenue and, if careful, could cover their tracks with little effort.

    these factors and others, not some sort of techno-idealism, is what makes the difference plainly obvious.

    mp3 downloading would be another painfully obvious example, unless you can think of an area in the “real world” where people were able to walk off with thousands of dollars in merchandise regularly with little or no chance of punishment?

  10. Mona asks:
    O.k., Van Veen and Ruthless, educate me: how will/can any government regualte who offers what online? Keep in mind the existence of the Netherland Antilles.

    I give up, but with a John Ashcroft mentality and enough techies working for the dark side, nothing would surprise me.

    My point is that despite all obstacles, anarchy will out!

  11. Someone has to note the irony here. The internet itself, the basic infrastructure, was built by the government, then passed off to universities and geeks to be run on a nonprofit basis. The participatory, two-way nature of the internet as a medium was forged in the early days before there was any real money to be made. If it had developed on a purely free-market basis with no government support, the internet today might be a predominantly one-way medium, like Compuserve-Prodigy-AOL circa 1992. No Usenet, no easy self-publishing on the web, no blogosphere.

    Not trying to make an argument for state control of the economy here. Just pointing out that this “blogosphere demonstrates how the free market can create wondrous things if government keeps its hands off” testimonial depends on a very selective, distorted version of internet history.

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