The flip side of that, is that it has never been easier to have global conversations, exchange ideas, learn and impact others. For me, there's no debate here; I'll take the Web 2.0 with all its bundled issues, over the isolationism of thought that preceeded it.
Certainly Web 1.0 had its strengths - with content difficult to create and make available, generally only "experts" would do so. These days, anyone with a mouse can update Wikipedia and become an "expert." While this creates a certain responsibilty for the reader to carefully vet their sources, it also opens up the possiblity for everyone to become and "expert" - and most people know quite a bit about at least one particular subject.
The best part about this "global dialog" is that people tend to be pretty smart, and that information will - over time - resolve itself into something that is useable and trustworthy. This is the basic idea behind "crowdsourcing." By allowing the dialogue to unfold publicly a fuller understanding of whatever topic is at hand comes out. The early days of the internet (and pre-internet as well) were a monologue. Today, we have a dialogue, and we are better for it.
It also allows the trimming of a once-broad brush into a finer resolution. At one time, an "expert" could say "X is bad." or "Y is the best product/method/idea." and that would be that. Now... someone says "X is bad" and hundreds or thousands of people comment or write blogs about it. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Maybe the original author had incomplete experience, or maybe we do. I've read some facinating discussions on blog comments and forums, many of which have successfully challenged my own ideas. And occaisionally, I've been allowed to educate someone, or successfully challenge their ideas. But almost always, there is common ground to be discovered, and from there, real understanding grows.
I'm not going to get into what caused me to write this post. Some of you might already know. Truth be told, it has been brewing for a while, and finally came to fruition. What I will say is this: keep the conversation going, don't shut off ideas just because they challenge your beliefs, and don't be offended as as first reaction. When offense comes into play (especially when none was intended) it shuts down the whole process. Unless someone writes specifically about you ("So-and-so is an idiot.) there is probably not a reason to be offended. Instead, challenge back, respectfully, and let love guide you. And heed the words of James 1:19-20:
So then,my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.