Home Health Thus speaks Negroponte in Rome: “The real dark side of the Internet is not having it”

Thus speaks Negroponte in Rome: “The real dark side of the Internet is not having it”

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On January 15, 2010 the great Nicholas Negroponte came to Rome. Now he has fallen out of favor for various reasons but at the time he was a guru, perhaps the digital guru. I had invited him to participate in the Science Festival organized by Vittorio Bo, for which he would talk on stage with TIM’s number one Franco Bernabé, who was the main sponsor of the festival. But the real reason for the invitation was to make public his support for a crazy campaign I had launched a couple of months earlier as director of Wired: the Internet’s candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize. In reality we would not have nominated a technology but its creators, substantially identified in Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee.

The first signatory was the Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, who in turn had won the Nobel Peace Prize; and after her I had convinced a few hundred deputies and senators to support her. But, on the eve of the formalization of the candidacy, which would take place a few days later in Oslo, Negroponte’s support took the matter to another level: one of the most listened to personalities in digital matters, the founder and director of MIT’s MediaLab, the author of Being Digital, the standard bearer of the One Laptop For Child project for aimed at giving a laptop to all the children of the world, he believed that our idea was not as crazy as some had started to say (today I must admit that it was a bit crazy, but not without sense).

In the morning Negroponte met a small group of journalists, including, for Repubblica, Ernesto Assante who drew an article that I quote here.

Professor, why did you accept the invitation of “Internet for peace”?

“It is not easy to refuse such an invitation when the reality that I know and of which I have experienced for many years has always prompted me to think this. The Internet is certainly an instrument of peace, it is a ‘weapon of mass education, it is becoming a’ weapon of mass construction ‘.

Do you think this candidacy can really be successful?

“I’m not familiar with the logic that pushes the Nobel judges to award the prize, so I can’t make reasonable predictions. What is certain is that the Internet award is more appropriate than the Obama award. We will officially present the candidacy in Oslo on February 1st, with three of the great “fathers” of the Internet, Vinton Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee and Larry Roberts, who will represent all the others who have contributed to the development of the Network over the years ”.

There are still those who think that the Net is dangerous, our President of the Senate (Renato Schifani, ed) has said that it is more dangerous than terrorism …

“It is true that the reality of the Net is confused, chaotic, and that there are many things we would not like to read or hear, but this is a richness, not a defect. The Internet is a tool, as are mobile phones, used much more easily by terrorists or bandits. But no one would feel like saying that cell phones are dangerous and that the conversations that take place need to be limited in some way. The negative aspects of the Net? Not having the Net. It’s like talking about the dark side of publishing, because you publish books or newspapers with horrible contents. It’s like thinking about giving up e-mail because unwanted messages or spam arrive ”.

There is a great debate on the future of newspapers …

“The card will disappear sooner or later. Investigative or investigative journalism will not disappear, they will find new supports on which to base their fortunes. A newspaper can be anywhere, even on a computer screen ”.

There remains a great problem of authority and truthfulness.

”It is the reader who decides who to believe. The difference between a blogger and a journalist today is that the latter is a paid professional and the former is not. But that too will change. The reality is that we are only at the beginning of a new and long path. And that during this process new and differently authoritative realities will emerge. The old cultural institutions have consolidated over a very long time, the reality of the Internet cannot be asked to create new and credible institutions in such a short time ”.


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