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Home News by Category DFW Biography DFW and the Democratic Dreams of the Internet

DFW and the Democratic Dreams of the Internet

Now that more and more people have read preview copies of David Lipsky's book some of the more interesting passages are beginning to float to the surface. For example, Scott McLemee quotes at length over at an extremely interesting statement from David Foster Wallace about the future of the internet. McLemee heard about the book when Mark Athitakis (who posted a great Q&A with Lipsky) read the quote at a panel, NBCC, The Next Decade in Book Culture (from around 4:45 in the vimeo vid).
So the quote itself concerns the future direction of the internet from DFW's point of view, way back in 1996, and it's pretty interesting stuff. Here's part of it (check out McLemee's post for more):

Because this idea that the Internet’s gonna become incredibly democratic? I mean, if you’ve spent any time on the Web, you know that it’s not gonna be, because that’s completely overwhelming. There are four trillion bits coming at you, 99 percent of them are shit, and it’s too much work to do triage to decide.

So it’s very clearly, very soon there’s gonna be an economic niche opening up for gatekeepers. You know? Or, what do you call them, wells, or various nexes. Not just of interest but of quality. And then things get real interesting. And we will beg for those things to be there. Because otherwise we’re gonna spend 95 percent of our time body-surfing through shit.
The comments/discussion at are already quite interesting, the first thing I thought of, like some others (and not DFW), are websites that have community ranking/voting systems - thus the gatekeeper is not a single entity but the community itself. I'm drawn to sites such as Reddit, Slashdot (one of the first communities to function in this way), and Digg because they contribute to my personal filtration system for the web. NewsTrust is an example of this kind of community ranking being used for journalism - it's a great site.
More from Scott McLemee on David Foster Wallace can be found in On the Road, an article about DFW, and the Texas archive, and David Lipsky's book.
Also, Zach Baron's review of the Lipsky book.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 April 2010 22:28  

The Howling Fantods