crypto and public policy

The Internet Does Not Homogenize

Filed under: General December 17, 2003 @ 6:57 pm

I’m visiting family in France, which some people like to call the “land of cheese-eating surrender monkeys.” In only a few days, I’ll be returning to the US, which other people like to call “the real rogue state.” I’m tired of these charades, prejudices, and awful exaggerations.

Saddam has been captured.

From this, writers like Glenn Reynolds quote and infer that “Jacques Chirac is probably worried sick over what Saddam will say if he decides to talk.” Is Donald Rumsfeld worried sick, too, given that he visited and supported Hussein in the early 1980s in the Iran/Iraq war? And after beating up the French for not supporting the US, barely a peep out of Instapundit concerning the fact that France just forgave 2/3 of the Iraqi debt, and that’s after being barred from competing to rebuild Iraq. Oh yes, my bad, a peep, but one that implies that the French are finally complying now that the US has showns its strength. And not a peep about the pro-Saddam demonstrations and violence in Iraq today.

Meanwhile, the French press states, on the day of Hussein’s capture, that they don’t expect much change on the ground. The next day, amazingly enough, the French press reports that nothing has changed on the ground and that pro-Saddam protests continue. No word about the gigantic manifestations of joy in the streets of Baghdad. There’s talk about how those humiliating photos of Saddam should not have been taken, but of course the French papers published them, and when did France forget about the concept of a free and independent press?

The common point between the Instapundit-like (e.g. FoxNews) and French Press? They both deride the other’s point of view based on highly selective information instead of discussing different sides like professional journalists. Maybe there’s a lesson there.

In a world of millions of blogs and instant access to all sorts of viewpoints, you’d think people would have more trouble remaining sheltered and confined to their skewed view of the world. Is the Internet really improving information flow on a general basis, or merely increasing flow between already like-minded folks, thereby creating even more extreme viewpoints?

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