Wednesday, 13 September 2017

the commons

One could be forgiven for missing this one announcement from Apple amidst all the other novelty surrounding the occasion marking a decade since such gadgets have come to be an extension of ourselves and of living remotely, but we agree that Apple’s presumption to tout its sleek stores as the new town squares is telling of the pseudo-public and pseudo-democratic nature of online engagement.
The notion of the third place—a hangout, a haunt, like a favoured bar or cafรฉ, that’s neither work nor home—has been on the wane in most societies, and doubtless the smart phone was a major contributing factor to that decline. A visit to one of the flagship boutiques is a pleasant experience without the usual trappings and overt pressure of a retail establishment but just as social media or any other major platform on the internet, that space or forum is the absolute nadir of openness and cannot be a guarantor of freedoms. Possibly Wikipedia is the virtual exception that manifests as the physical rule. What do you think? People can of course build the momentum to counter unpopular policies and practises and these platforms, untethered have been the catalysts at revolutionary moments but social media sites, businesses beholden to their investors, cannot be accorded, flattered with the crime of censorship, since to do so cheapens and imperils authentic democratic institutions and the responsible exercise thereof.