Friday, February 04, 2005

Zealots in politics, religion and violence, oh my!

This report seemed plagued with the idea that the internet is intrinsically . .. something. That it produces all sorts of catastrophic and generally undesirable things. On a number of instances the respondents pointed this fact out with one expert saying, "The internet is a medium not a motivator." As a medium it can only express what is already present in society. For every group that forms with undesirable consequences like religious affiliation (?) there are an equal number of people forming and finding groups to foster their interest in Anglo-Saxon literature, Clivia cultivation or any number of more benign activities. Yes, groups will be able to form more readily, just as they were able to do with inexpensive print media and telephones.

On the topic of medical information: I am pleased to see that there were no mentioned respondents who felt that such information should be restricted from the public because they are unable to comprehend it and use it effectively. I don't believe that access to medical information would necessarily make better educated patients so much as it would make more confident patients. They will know what treatments are available even if they haven't properly analyzed them in terms of their own condition. While there is not enough information for patients to start self-treatment, they will come to learn that there are a number of opinions on any one medical condition and they should be more educated about committing to one thing. This is one topic that is especially applicable to digital divides. Why should people less versed in internet searching be any less able to locate the same medical information? What are some other aspects of life that can be seen in this way, necessary for everyone to be able to access?

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