2. Why did you not use a computer for so many years? It seems very out of date not to use one like so many other people, and yet your Citizen Initiative website does clearly state your longstanding reluctance in this respect.

I did not use a computer until the year 2007. I did not even know how to operate one. Instead I used my old manual typewriter which transcribed all my books. I found a keynote in simplicity and distance from distractions. I disliked computer advertising and all the hype about progress, which was clearly the product of a commercial process involving massive profits for key promoters. Computers are still flagrantly commercial media, the tool of big business so frequently lacking scruple. The educational aspect is also present, of course, and yet one often has to look hard to find that factor in due measure.

What eventually caused me to become a computer user was the practical difficulty encountered in launching a long website. I decided to learn more about the process myself, although I needed the help of technicians for a time. Since that period, I have created five more websites, featuring many articles in total. A computer does help one to achieve an improved presentation of documents, and as a writer, I do like that aspect of the technology. Yet this technology is not essential. Of course, I can send speedy emails if I want to, but I used to manage well enough by relying upon the postal system. That way I was never in receipt of the mindless and exploitive spam which now jams the internet. Give phishers the big push and damn the scams. The internet latitude for fraudsters is almost unbelievable. This diversion is not civilisation but infraculture.

In my view also, the entertainment drive is superficial. Many people use computers primarily for entertainment, and I do not believe that the gaming facility represents an advanced human characteristic, however up to date and trendy it is often considered to be. The gaming distraction has been passed on to many schoolchildren, largely due to the widespread introduction of computer technology in schools. The poor performance of too many British schools is currently in query, although computers are only one component of that drawback.

A frequently unrecognised problem is the lack of mental autonomy that can be induced by a surfeit of technology. It is strongly arguable that “more choice” is not a liberating factor in many cases, but instead the cause of an increased dependence upon distractions and complications. Social networking websites like Facebook have received strong criticism in Britain for encouraging semi-literate contributions and libels. Troll activity now causes much consternation. Trolls are pseudonymous entities who are calculating no come-back for their transgressions.

Google Inc. of California has a huge public responsibility in relation to websites and blogs. Unfortunately, Google gives priority to backlinks, not quality of content. On Google Search, inferior (and also defamatory) blogs can get preferential treatment over diligent websites conveying far more relevant information. The visible discrepancies in this situation are pronounced. The length of Search list entries is no longer specified, unlike the situation several years ago. This blanking of detail assists web junk.

In July 2008, the Google project of photographing British houses, on a national basis, gained adverse publicity. This project evoked media complaints that Google are thereby making available details which can be used against hapless citizens by thieves and terrorists. The giant American computer company was accused of mounting an incursion upon British public safety. A national feeling developed that Google is exploiting British citizens, a factor matched by American complaints about similar activities in the home country of Google. The contested project is known as Google Earth, a software enterprise released to the public in 2006. Known as the “globe program,” the versions of software here include the Earth Pro, selling for 400 dollars per year. The use of Google automobile cameras in British streets spotlighted the “invasion of privacy” and related issues. See Google Earth Controversy (accessed 04/04/2013).

The subject of blogs is awkward. Some academics refuse to discuss these proliferating web denizens save in negative terms. That is because blogs have a reputation for being too short, too convenient, badly written, misleading, and laden with personal biases. Yet there are a number of superior blogs in evidence, and some academics are known to employ blogs as part of their output. What seems to be lacking is a quality standard. Critics of the blog phenomenon refer to a technological explosion in which millions of keyboard opportunists are trying their luck. Google panders to the blog game without setting due standards of etiquette.

At first I was very resistant to commencing a blog, despite some encouragement to do so. Eventually I relented at the end of 2009, over two years after my first website appeared. I have since maintained Commentaries. I reasoned that, since a number of academics used blogs, it was not a bad thing to do, providing that the rules are observed. The competent assessors of blog materials insist upon certain rules of deportment, which are:

Coarse speech, found in so many blogs, should be avoided. The real name of the writer should be in evidence; a pseudonym amounts to preferred exemption from any personal responsibility for content. Any entry should be thoroughly checked before placing online, and sources should be supplied for information given. The matter of making links is more flexible. A blog without either links or sources is frequently regarded as a personal feature of little or no relevance, unless there is sound reason to believe otherwise.

From America to Japan, many cults and suspect organisations have gained subscribers via the internet. Soon after becoming a computer user, I discovered that I was a renewed target of stigma (in July 2007) by an aggressive American sectarian, who had been banned from Wikipedia, but who was still very active on Google Search. See Internet Terrorist. Equalizer (SSS108, G. Moreno) had launched a Wikipedia User page against my books in 2006, and in the cause of Sathya Sai Baba. The manifest pro-sectarian complexion of this situation was strikingly obvious to observers, and conformed suspicions that various Wikipedia articles about gurus and related entities were providing a platform for devotees. Objectivity was strongly in question, meaning that the Wikipedia guideline of NPOV (neutral point of view) could not be taken seriously.

The troll dimensions of Wikipedia are viewed with misgivings. The majority of Wikipedia editors and administrators use a pseudonym, which is no encouragement to regard their statements as being authoritative. The average age of Wikipedia editors has been stated (by leader JImmy Wales) to be 26. Wikipedia personnel are not supposed to indulge in personal attacks, but these have been in evidence on discussion pages and Noticeboard features. In my own case, and as a carry-over from the SSS108 User page, I have been the recipient of hostile attention from several pseudonymous entities on Wikipedia. For a compact description, see Wikipedia Misinformation. For a more detailed treatment, see Wikipedia Anomalies. See also the Sequel. Jimmy Wales deleted the SSS108 user page in 2012.

No less than four sectarian/devotee movements were represented in the Wikipedia hostilities against myself. In addition to the Sathya Sai Baba campaigner, three other guru causes were involved, namely Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Adi Da Samraj, and Meher Baba. Two pseudonymous devotees at the Meher Baba page on Wikipedia were particularly aggressive. One of these resorted to the hostile and libellous blogs of SSS108 (Equalizer), accepting these as the truth, a fault which is no compliment to his cause. The other aggressor expressed a false statement which clearly originated from within the Meher Baba movement, and which I refuted accordingly. This issue is aggravated by the fact that the Wikipedia article on Sheriar Mundegar Irani has a history of sectarian interference confirmed by a Citizendium file.

The relevance of pseudonymity on the web is strongly in question. Such authorship too frequently converges with troll tendencies. If writers are afraid to reveal their true identity, suspicion can legitimately attach to their output.

It is possible to conclude that the disadvantages of computers currently outweigh the advantages, and that extensive legislation is needed to improve the educational performance of this media.

Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved. Page uploaded August 2008, last modified April 2013.