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The Internet And User Content Essay

1131 words - 5 pages

In the January 18th, 2012 New York Times article “The False Ideals of the Web”, Jaron Lanier attempts to take a very difficult issue – one that many view in terms of black or white – and find some middle ground. Unfortunately, what he ends up doing in the article is create an either/or situation, rather than find any middle ground. In the end we are left in the same situation that we started with.

In the first paragraph, Jaron appeals to the pathos of the reader; he assumes that the reader is of the generation that has grown up in the digital age, thus they would agree that the most important aspect of the internet is the people who contribute to it. However, there is no reason to ever assume that. Some people may actually believe that user contribution detracts from what makes the internet a viable source of information. For example, if the internet were controlled by academia, it would most likely be a peer reviewed source of information. However, as it is, anyone can contribute information to the internet, which makes the internet not a reliable source for knowledge. We can see this in academia, which typically does not support the use of Wikipedia as an academic source, and Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that relies entirely on user contribution.

In the third paragraph the author says, “The proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, which is being considered in the House while the Senate looks at a similar bill, is deemed the worst thing ever. “ However, at no point does the author state who considers this bill “the worst thing ever.” There are many people who supported this bill, and I would assume in supporting this bill that they did not think it was the worst bill ever.

The author then goes on to say, “The legislation has indeed included draconian remedies in various drafts, so I join my colleagues in criticizing the bills.” The author never goes on to state what these draconian methods are. He assumes that the reader will accept his word that the legislation deals with this issue using the mentioned method. In a way, this can be considered a bandwagon fallacy, in that we're supposed to accept that because he and his colleagues think the bill uses draconion methods, it does in fact use them. Without support for this statement, there is no reason to ever believe what the author has said. In addition, the author appeals to the readers' ethos, as well as an appeal to authority, in that we're expected to accept the opinions of these people, simply because the author says we should.

The author then goes on to state, “Those rare tech companies that have come out in support of SOPA are not merely criticized but barred from industry events and subject to boycotts. We, the keepers of the flame of free speech, are banishing people for their speech. The result is a chilling atmosphere, with people afraid to speak their minds.” It's hard to see, but this is definitely a fallacy of equivocation. The author is comparing the corporations who...

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