Is the Internet worth it?

Fascinating article by Andrew Leonard for regarding something that has been on my mind often of late:  Despite all the great stuff it offers, what of the negatives regarding the Internet?  Is all the good worth all the bad, both potential and realized?

Mr. Leonard’s focus is mostly on governmental “snooping” and journalism but it also can relate to the general impact of the Internet on everything, including loss of privacy both unintended and unrealized.  For example, I recall in the earlier, wildly popular days of Facebook that some clever thieves realized that some posters on that social media website would over share their day to day activities, to the point where they posted information about upcoming vacations, including where they were going, when they were going, and for how long.

Which meant these clever thieves now knew when a poster’s home was potentially unguarded and empty and for what specific period of time, making it a perfect target for theft.

Revelations about the Government’s internet snooping should be alarming to most people, but there are other economic factors that I’ve were influenced by the rise of the internet.  I’ve mentioned before how certain “mom and pop” type stores simply cannot compete with full service internet “stores” like and how even some bigger retail chains, including bookstores and electronic stores, now are in danger of closing their doors because of the increasing ease of purchase and seemingly unlimited stock available online.

But there exists yet another big threat created by the internet, one that personally scares me for different reasons:  The possibility of creative destruction.  If you think about entertainment, you think about a few things: Music, movies, television, books/novels, comic books, etc.  All of these creative endeavors are now victims to pirate websites.

Looking for the latest album by artist X?  Download it for free…sometimes before the album is officially released!  Looking forward to seeing movie X?  Same thing.  Novels?  Comic books?  Television shows?  Ditto, ditto, and ditto.

Where will this piracy of creative ideas eventually lead?  If you’re a struggling artist, there’s precious little money to be made in your works.  Whatever little bit you can scrape together is helpful and may allow you to hone your craft and allow you to make better and better product…provided you can indeed pay your bills.  But what if your current work(s) find their way to pirate websites and whatever meager amount of money you might have earned on your current, best works takes a hit because of illegal downloads?

And what of established artists?  Will movie/music companies become more and more fearful of signing off on a big budget item if the worry about how much they’ll lose on the illegal downloads of said item?  Is it possible some companies will simply give up on funding films/TV shows/music albums entirely?  And where will that leave many of us, audiences hungry for new entertainment?

As Mr. Leonard put it in his article:

…we are increasingly sensing that we have no idea where this techno-roller coaster is ultimately headed. There’s a sense that things are out of control. Our growing uneasiness doesn’t jibe well with all the hype about how the world is being made a better place by a proliferation of smartphone apps.