Okay, I'm hoping to capture the idea, but seeing the local time, and my lack of sleep, I'm doubting my ability to do so. Apologies if this isn't as articulate as it could be.
The golden age of the internet will not last forever. This is clearly seen by this story, and by anyone who would consider themselves an "old timer"1. With the increas in quantity and decrease in price of internet connections and equipment to use them, comes the need to make it more accessible. This leads to the feared dumbing down of things, leading to even more use, and a lower level of knowledge needed to function on the lowest level. We now require virtually no knowledge to function online, using everything the common person wants (email, web, and chat).
Now, these users have no had to learn, and are not used to having to learn how things work in order to use them (in relation to computers), so when they have an idea that would require a technology that hasn't been heavily dumbed, they pitch fits and refuse to take the time to learn. Lower entry level generates a lower likelyhood of the user actually taking time to understand how to use things. And therein lies the problem. If they do not want to learn, or refuse to, how can we bring them up to our level? I have no problem with the new users that will learn, but I think the general hate is towards those who don't.
The reason for this, I belive, lies in how they view the internet and computers. To us, they are highly complex tools that we have had to learn to use. To them, they are compliments of modern life, that come iced with cute, simple GUIs. They have not had to learn, so they do not see a reason to learn.
Anyway, holding this together as best as my tired mind can, we get this flood of perpetually stupid users who will end up teaching other users, corrupting the process of teaching someone to include unlearning the wrongs they had been taught. With time the amount of those willing, and able to truely educate newcomers will be drowned out by the stupid who think they know what they are talking about, which will in turn kill the hope of any widespread enlightenment of the internet's populance.
So, it won't last. It would be nice, but it won't.
What can we do?
Elitism. Yes, it's not cool, but it makes sense here. Form splinter groups, communities whenever one becomes too diluted. Allow others in, but only those willing to learn, willing to try and understand. Build stops to prevent the flood. In many ways, K5 has done this well. It has protection from clueless flooding (peer modding), and has a community of people who are intelligent.
K5 has several barriers to entry that really protect those who are in, without locking out those who aren't, but at the same time not providing an open gate. In many ways, K5 has it right. I just hope it will last a long time.
I'll come back and reply to this in the morning (relative to when I wake up), so if anything is garbled, just speak up.
1: The speed of clueless newbies flowing onto the net seems to be increasing exponentially. Even though I am 15, I consider myself an old timer, because I have witnessed things when they were better, and with the influx of users, the time it takes to witness/experience the things that allow yourself to be considered an old timer has shrunk inversely. I have heavily used FTP, telnet, usenet, ssh, and in general the internet for years. I have even begun to favor console over GUI. I consider this, coupled with my knowledge of the internet to qualify me as an old timer.