The article is about the availability of information, and how internet should make us more connected. It states that no one expected the Iranian revolution of 1979, mostly because the resistance started in mosques and homes, instead of palaces and barracks. The calls to resistance were transmitted via leaflets and cassettes instead of broadcast media.
It then mentions the Arab Spring, and asks why it came unexpectedly to the Western world in this age of massive communication and participation through social networks. The author then states that ‘we may be encountering a narrower picture of the world than we did in less connected days.’, and that today’s television in the U.S. features less than half as many international stories as in the 1970s.
The article continues listing limits to the way we discover new information online. First, the search engines are only good as the questions we ask for them, if nobody asks about a particular subject nobody will read about them. As of social media, it says it is limited to the circle of friends we have in them. In the end, the article asks for the engineers of ‘the web’ to build tools that will make us more interconnected. It cites as en example that google, after every search, could use our search information not only for ads, but also for helping us discover compelling subjects we have never explored; Facebook, in turn, apart from suggesting us to connect with a person from high school, could look for strangers in remote parts of the world with whom we share common interests.
In my opinion, the critique should not be directed at the tools of the internet, but instead at our education systems or our culture. I think that, should Google or Facebook do the changes that the author wishes, there would be minimal impact on the interconnectivity of the societies. The author states that the insular habits of the mind have not changed, and, for me, this has more to do with the social values. The author should ask parents to teach their children to be curious about all that’s happening in the world.
The idea that we live in a less interconnected world than 40 years ago seems a bit exaggerated to me, but I don’t know how to compare that.