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The Internet as Social Movement

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August 04, 2010

"All of this was difficult, amazing, perplexing, astonishing—but so was the laying of the railroads and the sending of telegraph signals across the ocean. And historians of technology like to point out that great fanfare and promises have greeted all sorts of new devices, from the radio to the fax machine. But even before former Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow penned his 'Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace' ('Governments of the industrial world,' it began, 'you weary giants of flesh and steel'), the internet was no mere fax machine. From the first, and in no small part because of its fervent supporters, it has felt less like a technology and more like a social movement—like communism, like feminism, like rock and roll. An ideology we could call webism. While the rest of us look up movie times, buy sweaters, and post jihadi videos, the webists proclaim the new age."

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