August 1, 2009

Is the Internet making us more ethical?

Ethics of cultural collaboration from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaRita J. King, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council and CEO of Dancing Ink Productions, talks about the ethics of cultural collaboration in this 10-minute video interview immediately after her appearance at the 140 Character Conference on Twitter in New York on June 17.

twitter-greenOur conversation was generally at a 50,000-foot level, looking at the Internet and its role in the development of an ethical culture. Rita uses the model of a Johari window, a square divided into four parts: How I see myself accurately; how I see myself inaccurately; how others see me accurately; and how others see me inaccurately. Participating in the digital culture shakes all those things up, she says, and new technologies are enabling people are able to parse out how they feel about the rituals and traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation “which both illuminate the human spirit and shackle us to outdated systems.”

During the panel and in our conversation, Rita questioned whether the efforts in the West to help the street demonstrators are helping or hurting if the tactics are based on deception, such as changing one’s Twitter profile to say you live in Tehran as an expression of solidarity. “Is it putting people on the ground in Tehran in jeopardy if they can’t find each other? Deliberate deception seems like a step backward to me. … And that’s symptomatic of other things that will continue to manifest in the digital culture,” with a debate over how best to achieve a social good.

“The most exciting thing about the Internet is that it offers us an opportunity for transparency, accountability, fearlessness.”
— Rita J. King

Rita believes that “creative identity construction” is a very powerful force. “We’re in the process of telling the global story of what it’s like to be alive in 2009, and we’re doing it together. The most successful members of the digital culture are people who facilitate the ability of other people to tell their stories. It’s always been about storytelling. … I feel I woke up one day in a world where the level of candor has just exponentially increased — and it’s wonderful.”

New technologies have increased the potential for storytelling. “Now the use of multimedia to tell stories is so powerful: video, images, immersive environments, augmented reality, telepresence — we’ve only just seen the beginning of this,” she says. As people become more proficient with mobile devices, life itself becomes a sort of a game, she says. “You learn how to navigate the dashboard of your life. What’s for sure is that we have the capacity for the first time in human history to be connected with each other.

“I believe wholeheartedly in the capacity for the evolution of human consciousness,” she adds. “The most exciting thing about the Internet is that it offers us an opportunity for transparency, accountability, fearlessness.” And more truth. Greater ethical behavior.

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JD Lasica, founder of, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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2 thoughts on “Is the Internet making us more ethical?

  1. As we have seen creating a larger community can also bring the larger than life questions to light. Where do freedoms of speech, individual opinion, and offhand comments cross lines.

    It will be very interesting to see as the world community joins together using social media, what happens to the individuals ethics. Group think on a global scale…good or bad?

    Thanks for the insightful article and video.

  2. Or put another way, how can I over-intellectualise simple concepts in a verbose manner that may lead funding institutions and others to have confidence in my assertion that I really know what I'm talking about in a way few people have yet considered and while not having anything in the way of specific information or insights to offer be they original or rehashed I should definitely be considered worth of ongoing financial and media support to pursue my interest in asking these kinds of questions that we all think about but that I give more serious attention to on account of my superior intellectual grasp of the complexity of simple relationships where they are extended from the one-to-one and one-to-many to the many-to-many paradigm. Best of Luck.