No sooner than I wondered aloud if I was a Nazi, I read about Godwin's Law in today's New York Times. The Godwin in Godwin's Law is Mike Godwin, the General Council of the Wikipedia Foundation. And Godwin has authored the most brilliant insight into the logical conclusion of all Internet chat:
“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approach one."
In other words, it is inevitable that, at some point or another in an online discussion, somebody will accuse somebody else of being a Nazi. That's how the Internet is refining our intellects. When you don't agree with somebody in an online discussion, call them Hitler. Even I -- the ultimate digital sceptic -- prove Godwin's Law (by accusing myself of being a Nazi).
But Godwin, as the general council of the Wikipedia Foundation, isn't too bothered about his own law. As he told the New York Times:
“In another 25 years, all of our children will have grown up in a world in which media like these are mutable and changeable and people prank each other, and it will seem less important. Part of my job is to prevent restrictive rules from being put in place that prevent people from participating in massively democratic participatory media. And then let the new norms settle.”
So, if "massively democratic participatory media" ultimate ends up in National Socialist insults, what's its point? How are we to stop online discussions terminating in Nazi name-calling? And what evidence does Godwin have that we are becoming more tolerant of online pranksters? (the reverse might actually be true, judging from most of the humorless apres Colbert comments on my anti-blog blog).