the knock on your door at midnight…

Web VigilantesThe New York Times reports on a new twist on Internet Searching in “Online Throngs Impose a Stern Morality in China.” It seems it started with a cuckholded husband: the liaison first starting at a World of Warcraft gathering. The man’s wife hooked up with a college student and began an affair. After first forgiving his wife, “the man discovered messages on his wife’s computer that confirmed to him that the liaison was continuing.” He posted a 5,000-word letter on one of the country’s most popular Internet bulletin boards and started a wave of vigilanteism that carried over from the Web to real life. The husband brought his case before the Web court whose vehement condemnations of the affair accounted for a “10 percent increase in daily traffic on Tianya, the bulletin board with the most users.” But the response flew from the Net to the neighborhood:

“We call on every company, every establishment, every office, school, hospital, shopping mall and public street to reject him,” it said. “Don’t accept him, don’t admit him, don’t identify with him until he makes a satisfying and convincing repentance.”

This event raises significant issues in a country whose history includes the retributions of the Cultural Revolution and also suppressed freedom of speech. Part of the reason I found this article important to highlight is that my take on The New WWW may suggest to some that I call for a hard right turn toward morality. My point in studying the social changes induced by technology is to simply say, “Look, it’s all going different. The old rules don’t necesarily apply. There is no more black and white and intelligent and caring people must live with their eyes and hearts open to the changes coming all around us.”

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