Craig's Compass

In a recent interview, Craig Newmark was asked what the media industry should be thinking about in terms of doing good. "First," he replied, "don’t be evil. For example, if you’re promoting a cause your moral compass thinks is wrong, don’t do it." This credo has always worked well for craigslist, and Google, and of course countless organizations and individuals since the earliest days of civilization; it certainly isn't limited to the media industry. Needless to say, the concept isn't so eagerly embraced by everyone, but maybe there's hope.

I do see on the Net that more and more good people are organizing, dealing with bad guys, whether they’re scammers or disinformation specialists.

If what Craig has been noticing is right—and there's no reason to believe otherwise—the Internet's intrinsic utility for aggregating and disseminating information couldn't be put to better use. The Net, and the Web in particular, have so often been held up as examples of freedom of expression gone wrong—spam, pornography, scams of various kinds—that it's gratifying to think there might be a counterpoint to the negatives, using the very same medium no less.

According to the site's information section, craigslist is about

  • giving each other a break, getting the word out about everyday, real-world stuff.

  • restoring the human voice to the Internet, in a humane, non-commercial environment.

  • keeping things simple, common-sense, down-to-earth, honest, very real.

  • providing an alternative to impersonal, big-media sites

  • being inclusive, giving a voice to the disenfranchised, democratizing ...

  • being a collection of communities with similar spirit, not a single monolithic entity.

which, now that I think about it, makes a pretty good formula for exactly the sort of activity Craig has been seeing on the Net. But then, that's probably no coincidence.


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