There is a huge philosophical issue at stake for those who are best termed the technorati, the boosters of high tech and networks roughly clustered around Anderson’s Wired Magazine. In this circle an awful lot of hope and thought has been invested in the idea that the internet and other ‘open’ networks are a democratizing force. The belief that this is true underlies the much of the moral framework that the technorati in. It gives them faith that they are doing the right thing. The discovery that networks tend to develop quickly into situations of inequality, situations that tend to map towards the very 80-20 power laws that characterize the vast inequalities of wealth and power the internet was supposed to route around, this discovery slices straight to heart of any faith in the democratic power of the internet.
Abe’s had a lot of really good pieces lately debunking the mythology of the new ‘net bubble. Check out the past month or so’s worth of his blog.