"There is no doubt that the Internet—that undistinguished complex of wires and switches—has changed how we think and what we value and how we relate to one another, as it has made the world simultaneously smaller and wider. Online connectivity has spread throughout the world, bringing that world closer together, and with it the promise, if not to level the playing field between rich and poor, corporations and individuals, then to make it less uneven. There is so much that has been good—which is to say useful, entertaining, inspiring, informative, lucrative, fun—about the evolution of the World Wide Web that questions about equity and inequality may seem to be beside the point.
But while we were having fun, we happily and willingly helped to create the greatest surveillance system ever imagined, a web whose strings give governments and businesses countless threads to pull, which makes us…puppets. The free flow of information over the Internet (except in places where that flow is blocked), which serves us well, may serve others better. Whether this distinction turns out to matter may be the one piece of information the Internet cannot deliver."
"Are We Puppets In A Wired World?"
The New York Review of Books
Halpern, a writer, editor and teacher, lives in Ripton (Vermont) with her husband, writer and activist Bill McKibben. She serves as a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, where she runs the Narrative Journalism Fellowship. Halpern, 56, has written for such publications as Rolling Stone, the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Mother Jones and Condé Nast Traveler. She edits NYRB Lit, the electronic version of the New York Review of Books.
A Rhodes Scholar and Guggenheim Fellow, Halpern is also the human half of a therapy-dog team. Her sixth book, about that work, is called A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home and comes out in May. In an email, Halpern says her family moved to Vermont in 2001 “so we could live in a vibrant community — Ripton — with excellent schools — the North Branch School, especially — close to a college — Middlebury — and be able to ski out the door to both the Catamount Trail and the groomed trails of the Rikert Ski Touring Area.” And, perhaps, to make ample use of the em dash.