Never has the chasm between ability and responsibility been so wide as on the Internet.
The Internet is a tool. For me personally, it gives me the ability to create and sell my music and any other merchandise without the responsibility of having to carry an inventory through Print on Demand (POD). It gives me the ability to reach an audience with a podcast without the responsibility of owning a 1000 watt transmitter, an FCC license (Actually, I have a 3rd Class license, but I don’t need it for a podcast) or being employed by a licensed broadcast entity. The internet gives me the ability to publish a blog without the responsibility of owning a printing press or having to maintain a supply of printing necessities which is much more than anything I could do prior to the internet and its capabilities. That’s a powerful tool and I’m not even scratching the surface of its capabilities by using myself as an example.
But like any tool, it depends on how it’s used. The Internet gives the ability of an Internet business/application to release a public statement along the lines of “We are cooperating fully with authorities and encourage our members to report any activities…” without the responsibility to fix the underlying, bigger issue that caused the problem in the first place. It also gives the ability to use journalanteism to push an agenda or spread a conspiracy without the responsibility having to provide a factual basis (The Internet hasn’t cornered the market on this, it’s just far more prolific due to easy access). The Internet ironically, also gives the ability to create an unedited, recorded live podcast where the host talks about the abuses of monitoring telephone calls without court order and then turns around, sometimes even in the same show and call a person without notifying them of either being recorded or broadcast live without the responsibility of understanding the correlation between the two and acting on it. Don’t get me started on copyright infringement, that’s another three or four blog entries on its own. That’s a powerful tool and I haven’t even scratched the surface of its capabilities.
So it seems now that whenever there is an issue on the Internet, as a whole we’ve reverted to the elementary school defense of “They started it!” and all the finger pointing and snapping at each other, choosing sides and a slap fight commences until everyone is tired and forgets about it. The real problem is that these individual battles have a cumulative effect and we’re quickly approaching the saturation point. So the topic is starting to roll around to Regulation of the Internet, as it should.
Just remember Regulation, like the Internet itself, is a tool…