The “Not So Fast” Net

| January 23, 2012

Is the internet speeding things up? The general consensus on this question is yes, yes it is. That’s also likely your answer, whether you groan about kids and their newfangled technologies, line up for the next new thing to be released at the local Best Buy, or just grind away at a computer for school and work without thinking too much about it. But what if it’s not so fast? Or indeed not fast enough? In his article “Not So Fast” for Think Quarterly, Jeff Jarvis, associate professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, argues that we have yet to see and take advantage of the full possibilities the Internet offers.

To prove his point, Jarvis calls upon an earlier revolutionary invention–the printing press. Several scholars are cited who corroborate not only that the printing press caused the end of the world as the 15th century knew it, but also that this change was rather slow. Users of the new media imitated old forms; innovation took its time. Jarvis presses us to encourage that innovation, to light a fire under the belly of paradigm shifts. For something that will really tickle the episteme enthusiasts, check out the idea of the “Gutenberg Parenthesis.”

The rather exciting thing about this article is that it recognizes in some of the more recent developments in Internet technology a real shift towards something new, something in favor of open innovation and open access, something that moves away from trying to protect the status quo of years past. It’s one of the many voices calling out against SOPA and PIPA. It’s exciting.

But it’s not without its flaws. Why, for instance, does an article that criticizes the imitation of earlier forms appear in what is apparently meant to seem like a brainy, trendy print journal? Especially when this “journal” is run by Google, one of the big wigs of the Internet these days? Then again, perhaps a more fitting form or forum is just not out there yet.