Editing Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism is an essay, by Jaron Lanier , originally published in Edge – the third culture .


In His essay online, in Edge magazine in May 2006, the Lanier Criticized sometimes Are Claimed collective wisdom of omniscience (Including Such As examples the Wikipedia Article about himself) Describing it as “digital Maoism “. [1] He writes “If we start to believe that the Internet itself is an entity that has something to say, we’re devaluing those people and creating ourselves into idiots.” [1]

His criticism aims at several targets which concern him and are at different levels of abstraction:

  • Any attempt to create one final authoritative bottleneck which channels the knowledge on society is wrong, regardless whether it is a Wikipedia or any algorithmically created producing meta information,
  • Sterile style of wiki writing is undesirable because:
    • It ‘s removes the touch with the real author of original information, it filters the subtlety of its opinions, essential information (for example, the graphical context of original sources) is lost,
    • It creates the false sense of authority behind the information,
  • Collective organizational beliefs,
  • He worries that collectively created works may be manipulated behind the scene by anonymous groups of editors who bear no visible responsibility,
    • And that this kind of activity might create future totalitarian systems as these are basically grounded on misbehaved collectives which oppress individuals.

This criticism is further Top Explored in an interview with one _him_ Radio National ‘s The Philosopher’s Zone , Where he is critical of the denatured effect which “Removes the scent of people”. [2]

In December 2006 Lanier went on to write his first review of the collective wisdom with an article in Edge titled “Beware the Online Collective”. [3] Lanier writes:

I wonder if some aspect of human nature evolved in the context of competing packs. We could be genetically wired to be vulnerable to the lure of the mob …. What’s in the anonymous mass of anonymous but connected people from suddenly turning into a mob, just like masses of people have time and time again in the history Of every human culture? It ‘s amazing how in the design of online software can bring out such varied potentials in human behavior. It’s time to think about that power on a moral basis.

Lanier argues that the search for deeper information in any area would require that a person be able to make a decision. Its full meaning. ” [1] That is, he sees limitations in the utility of an encyclopedia produced by only partially interested third parties as a form of communication.


  • Chris Suellentrop (June 14, 2006). “The Problem With ‘Online Collectivism'” . The New York Times .
  • “Individualism vs. Collectivism in a Wiki World Librarians Respond to Jaron Lanier’s Essay” Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism ” ” . Serials Review . 33 (1): 45-53. March 2007. doi : 10.1016 / j.serrev.2006.11.002 .


  • “DIGITAL MAOISM: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism” . Edge Foundation, Inc. May 29, 2006.


  1. ^ Jump up to:c Lanier, Jaron (2006-05-30). “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism” . Edge .
  2. Jump up^ Lanier, Jaron (8 July 2006). “Is this a good idea?” . Philosopher’s Zone, ABC National Radio .
  3. Jump up^ Lanier, Jaron (2006-12-25). “Beware the Online Collective” . Edge.

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