the Internet and Technology
'"It [the internet] can be demystified and thought about in the same way that the trains are thought about. The same way factories and distribution chains and retail outlets are thought about." .... seems to portray the internet as a disconnected 'utility'. '
That is not at all what I am trying to convey; but, I am trying to convey a few points at the same time:
1) The Internet is not just the particular devices it is composed of. I want to distinguish the Internet from intranets, which are composed of the same devices. To do that, the semantic reality of the Internet needs to be clarified; by which I mean the protocols and property relationships that regulate what devices talk to each other and how they go about talking to each other. The medium isn't just the devices, but also these protocols. And neither the devices, nor the protocols are the message. (yes, I understand that they are THE message in the medium is the message sense, but that's a different phraseology)
2) Instruction vs. Data - Regarding the suggestions in the original TOTW post (doxxing, trolling, memeing), I'm trying to point beyond the data ...the message(s). Instead, I'm trying to clarify the medium as both the devices themselves AND the instructions that govern them. With this goal in mind, I am comparing the Internet to other networks that - due to the instructions that govern them - assign the vast majority of their 'users' to peripheral roles. As this clarifies the power dynamics of these networks, it subjects those power dynamics to the same critiques anarchists have been making of such systems in general ...all the way down to the legal framework of Property itself that defines the sovereignty of states and their land rights, the private ownership of mass production technologies and its consequences, citizenship, etc.
3) The psychological impact particular to smart phones and other digital technologies is important, but focusing on that at the expense of such issues as the above tends to lead towards the a narrow set of conclusions: use these technologies or don't. The "use these technologies" (for this or that) choice then tends to focus back on the data: what content ought to be pushed through the Internet. The "don't use these technologies" choice then tends to lead towards conversations about how difficult that actually is ...because of the ubiquity of the Internet, because so much of daily life depends on using it (finding a job, for instance), etc. So other options are excluded at the end, such as using communications technologies for our own intranets or attacking the protocol framework that makes the Internet a decentralized (but not distributed) network: DNS, for instance.
4) A lot of the psychological arguments have been made in the past for other things. Romance novels, MTV and television in general, etc. But maybe people want to be distracted! Why? Because the urban landscape and the way it's traversed sucks. Because 15-minute breaks at work suck. Because the frivolous things your friends are talking about is more interesting than the complaints that the customers are making. Because sitting on buses that are traveling through monotonous metropolitan grids is boring and if the people on them were worth talking to, they'd still get on and off in a way that would disrupt your conversations with them. So long as our environment is this "circuit board" I mentioned in another comment, there is going to be this swath of crappy experiences that people will try to find ways of ameliorating.