Cynics Look At The Internet

What does it mean to be a member of a community? And are we really supposed to reduce it to a market problem? Oh, for a Chance to Whitewash a Fence

Tom Sawyer, metaphor of the digital age? Or cliché? Whichever, Mark Twain’s 19th-century sprite is being name-checked a lot lately as a handy way to describe the Internet vogue du jour: exploiting free labor and content online. (Which brings to mind a reputed P. T. Barnum line. But never mind.) Excerpts follow.