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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 26, 2005 / 19 Tammuz, 5765

Cybercreeps Run Amok

By Michael Kinsley


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Cyberspace, to its early denizens, was supposed to be a prelapsarian world, free from the taint of commerce and other vices of "meatspace" (as the material world is known), full of sweetness and light and universal siblinghood. In fact, the story line was Genesis in reverse. Our troubles started when Eve ate the apple of knowledge.

Now knowledge had accumulated to the point where it could undo the damage, reconstruct the apple (or Apple) and restore our innocence. Geeks who did math were going to succeed where hippies who smoked dope and lefties who read Marx had failed. They were going to get us out of crass modern life and get us back into Eden.

Well, have you visited cyberspace lately? Of course you have. And of course the Internet has vastly improved life for anyone likely to be reading this. But as a friendly place to hang out, give me meatspace any day.

There is commerce aplenty, but that's not the problem. The happiest and most peaceful parts of the World Wide Web are the places where people are buying things. The nasty parts of the Web are where people are doing what the Founding Surfers intended: expressing themselves and forming communities.

Why is the tone of conversation on the Internet, especially about politics, so much lower than in the material world? E-mail can be a fabulous medium for serious discussion. But most of the e-mail I get doesn't realize this potential. For the past few weeks my in-box has been clogged nearly to the point of unuseability with nearly identical mails from people who disagree with my interpretation of the notorious Downing Street Memo. As an attempt to change your mind, one e-mail may be a sincere appeal to reason and evidence, but 500 e-mails is a blunt instrument.

And nasty? Oh my goodness. Give me those scary old pre-e-mail letters that journalists used to get — written in purple or red crayon on mysteriously stained stationery from the Bates Motel — any day. Maybe the anonymity of e-mail empowers people to shed their usual carapace of politeness. Or maybe banging out an e-mail is just so easy, compared with all the necessary elements of writing a letter, that the id can send out a half-dozen e-mails before the superego can stop it.

Or maybe cyberspace just has more than its share of undersocialized geeks, sitting in front of their computers and sharing their bitterness with the world.

Cyberspace promised wonderful new opportunities for community. This promise has been realized in many ways. People with a shared interest in volleyball or human rights in Estonia or collecting early Waring blenders can find one another and enjoy the company.

Old-fashioned geographical communities have non-soulmates rubbing up against each other. The challenge is to make them "all just get along," as we say here in Los Angeles. In cyberspace you don't have to get along with people who are different. You're not going to bump into them in the aisles of Amazon.com. This makes cyberspace communities far touchier about defending their spheres and their interests.

Cyberspace communities — and the cyberspace community at large — often seem to be more energized by rejecting heathens than by embracing soulmates. They love staging inquisitions and anathemas. Having spent a decade working at the devil Microsoft and then at a big "old media" institution, the Los Angeles Times, I am amazed by the hostility that greets any effort to stroll into the clubroom and buy the boys a round of drinks.

Recently at the Times we tried using a Web innovation called "wiki" — a shared-editing process very much in the cyberian spirit. For two days, thousands of people seemed to be enjoying it. But our e-mail boxes oozed unwelcoming contempt from cyberoids (except for the real innovators of wiki — the founders of the amazing wikipedia.com — who were helpful and sympathetic). Then a guerrilla attack in the middle of the night flooded the site with pornography and we had to take it down.

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What gets called "community" on the Web usually consists of various ways that surfers can share their views. But "share" is misleading. It implies that you are interested in learning the views of others, as well as expressing your own. That does not tend to be the case in cyberspace, any more than it is in meatspace.

It's not surprising that cyberians make lousy communitarians, but the ugliest aspects of libertarianism — the me-me-me, the stay-out-of-my-space — have dominated.

The rallying cry of the early cybernauts was: "Information wants to be free." Information is what the Internet delivers, and advanced economies are more and more about information and less and less about physical matter. So free information meant a lot more than no charge for 411. It implied a world without money, where the path between you and your dream was frictionless.

Whatever information may want, producers of information prefer to be paid. In meatspace, this desire is considered reasonable. Most consumers in cyberspace consider it reasonable as well. But some don't. "Information wants to be free" may once have carried the poetic image of liberating information. All it is now is a silly rationale for ripping other people off.

Eden it ain't.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Michael Kinsley is Los Angeles Times Editorial and Opinion editor and former editor of Slate.com. Comment by clicking here.



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