Robert Pimm

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The Internet. 7 reasons why it will destroy civilisation

My friend, a top Internet expert, sips his beer.  “Look how you can chat for free, with video, to your friends around the world,” he says.  “See how quickly you can buy a book, book a flight, check in, or check something out.  The Internet has made the world fantastically better.”

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“No,” I say,  “I use the Internet for hours every day.  But it could destroy us all.  For example:

(i) the Internet polarises opinion.  Imagine a billion people in a desert, shouting.  Who can shout loudest?  The best way to attract online attention is to be shocking and extreme – sometimes called “spice”.  Slag someone off.  Be outrageous.  You know that famous, reasonable, internet commentary site?  No?  That’s because there isn’t one.  You can’t be reasonable and famous on-line;

(ii)  the Internet clouds understanding.  If an established news outlet says something wrong or daft, people care.  Private Eye or The Onion will mock them.  But in the Internet, no-one edits your racist hate-speech or loony conspiracy theories.  The Internet teems with this stuff, which tends to veer to weird extremes because that attracts readers.  Result: the barmy ramblings of religious fruitcakes and conspiracy nut-cases occupy more megabytes on the internet than (more…)

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Review: Trollope: 11 reasons to read him 10/10

Let’s cut to the chase.  If you haven’t discovered the novelist Anthony Trollope, you should start reading him.  Today.  Here are 11 life-changing reasons why:

(i) the six Palliser novels, starting with Can you forgive her, are literature’s best guide to politics and power.  Why did Lord Acton say “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Great men are almost always bad men“?  Trollope explains, long before Acton said it;

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(ii) Trollope writes perceptively about relationships and sexual politics.  His novels boil with strong women, from the indomitable Lady Glencora to my favourite, Miss Dunstable (an heiress who will not be pushed around by any man – not even the all-powerful Duke of Omnium).  Many Trollope women feel more emancipated, or tormented by their lack of emancipation, than their sisters in some contemporary novels;

(iii) Trollope is brilliant on religion and its relationship to the state. (more…)

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