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Internet anonymity as a reflection of broader issues involving technology and society

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It's a remarkable piece of apparatus.

F. Kafka, "In The Penal Colony"

The hurricane of social change wrought by information technology can be viewed along with the development of permanent agricultural communities, urbanization, and industrialization as among the great transformations of civilization. It is also important, however, to ask how social and cultural factors affect the forms and processes of information technology, especially across cultures and time periods. We must avoid falling into the reductionist trap of technological determinism which involves a failure to appreciate the extent to which human choices have an effect on technical forms and impacts.

This paper contains a discussion of anonymity and information technology to illustrate some general conclusions about why the issues of information technology and society are so complicated and do not lend themselves to easy solutions, and why they support neither the rhetoric of technophiles who optimistically view information technology as the solution to societal problems, nor the technophobes who pessimistically view it as a source of societal problems.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2004

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