Harper’s Publisher Warns That Facebook Isn’t a Revolution

John MacArthur is the publisher of Harper’s Magazine. Today he said that Facebook is not a revolution.

It’s unclear who told him that Facebook is supposed to be a revolution, but rest assured, MacArthur confirms that Facebook is not.

“All those millions of eyeballs glued to Facebook do not a revolution make, or even a reform movement,” he said. “The energy devoted to the Net is an astonishing waste. This is time that obviously could be better spent talking to a friend or a child, reading a good book, or marching in a political demonstration.”

Ah yes, marching in political demonstrations, that’s always been a wildly successful means to a political end.

To use a cliche, MacArthur can’t see the forest for the trees.

Rather than recognizing the enormous potential millions and millions of new publishers of information does for humanity and democracy, MacArthur says Facebook isn’t a revolution. He’s right, however, Facebook is not and never will be about a revolution. Facebook is about making lots and lots of money. That’s it. MacArthur is answering a question that no one has asked.

What’s revolutionary about the Internet isn’t the individual businesses that pop up here and there to make a buck, but the possibilities of having so many more people communicating with one another. Yes, it’s true, much of the information out there on blogs and news Web sites is crap. But once we’ve developed effective technology to weed out the less quality information and make the primary sources more prevalent, or information we personally care about, there’s a lot of potential for good.

And historically, MacArthur should recognize that there has never been a technological advancement that made publishing quicker, easier and cheaper that hasn’t resulted in more people reading and more democracy.

We’ve yet to fully realize the power of a massive global network linking billions of people, and in the next 10 years, we’re going to see better tools for accessing the massive amount of data available on the Internet.

But for MacArthur to suggest that we just cease communicating via the Internet, and leveraging technology, that’s just stupid.

I Won’t Hug This File — I Won’t Even Call It My Friend. John MacArthur. Harper’s Magazine. December 17, 2010.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *