Evgeny Morozov vs. The Internet


#1

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#2

Morozov seems to get maligned for what seem like wildly reasonable views: as examples mentioned in the CJR piece, Google's primary goal being to monetize information to make it inaccessible & profitable, his criticism of TED (thank you Evgeny), and his thoughts that the biometric fitness applications could (and probably will) be abused by insurers. This is all fantastic stuff, and needs to be discussed. Add the icing that is Morozov's flair, and he's a pretty "useful" guy after all.


#3

It takes serious guts for the silicon valley self-satisfaction brigade to accuse somebody else of being a spoiled child...

It doesn't quite reach the truly epic, history-making, heights of David Brooks offering a course in 'Humility' based mostly on his own writings; but we cannot all be true masters of the art.


#4

ā€œIā€™m very conscious of what Iā€™m doing,ā€ he says. ā€œIā€™m destroying the internet-centric world that has produced me. If Iā€™m truly successful, I should become irrelevant.ā€ā€‚

You have to love that.


#5

Revolutionaries who refuse to leave after their revolutions are a pretty vexing issue...


#6

I've never read anything by Morozov. But I think The Internet is the most dangerous thing ever created in human history. In less than one generation, it has changed the way people think, interact with one another, and react to one another. And not in a positive way. It has changed (for the worse) our ideas about humor, compassion, justice. It has coarsened our sensibilities. In bringing us (figuratively) together, it has made us (literally) less human, less humane. The Internet is anethema to what it is to BE human. Think of the promise of the home computer in the late 70s to late 80s, how fun it was to be on a BBS. Now see what it has become: an outlet for gossip, contant bitching, salacious outrageous "me me me"ness, contant finger-pointing, constant hyperbole. As far as I can tell, things really started getting bad sometime around 2002-2004. Maybe it was Facebook. Maybe it was YouTube, or blogs, or the self-centeredness and self-infatuation that The Internet encourages. But there's a bigger picture. The Internet, combined with video games, laptops, cellphones and The Media that all goes with it...it's all just sucking away our humanity. Watch how many commercials are about tech nowadays. Every other commercial is the newest smart phone, or laptop, or video game or meme or thing "trending." Our slang is all the same. We're all using the same argot (if that's the right term?): old men on commercials fist-bumping, old women talking in leet-speak, or acting like wannabe-BettyWhites. We're being blended into a bland, gray palatable and trendy pudding. We Are All Poochie. I'm no Luddite. It just seems to me that it's all just not worth it. There's plenty of "good" there. But the bad that comes with it is probably gonna do us in, before it's all said and done.


#7

As a wise fish once said, '90% of everything is crap'.


#8

You should definitely read some Morozov, then.


#9

Wait... there are people who think he's sincere in his positions? Holy crap.

I just assume anyone media savvy enough to know who he is knows that he's simply fulfilling the classic role of "Click-bait Contrarian", as is the primary business model of Slate.

As with Camille Paglia and Mickey Kaus, other lesser imitators of Christopher Hitchens, isn't that game both predictable and transparent?


#10

Oh jesus christ. Leaving alone the fact the Facebook or youtube didn't exist in 2002-2004, what a load of 'get off my lawn' nonsense. Guess what? All those things you lament are in fact, by definition, expressions of humanity. You're free to find all this as frightening as you please, but don't presume to present your own issues as any sort of objective statement of reality.


#11

Yes the world was better when it was all car commercials and game shows.

By the way I seem to remember tons Crazy Eddie, PC Richard and Sons... Ads selling tons of tech products as far back well pretty much ever.

I love it when people rant reminiscing about a past that only exists in their selective memory.


#12

There's probably not a halfway Social Media savvy person under the age of 30 that doesn't know what the Human Centipede is, or Two Girls One Cup or Goatse (sp?) or a rusty trombone or a blue waffle is, because once they learned about it/them, they gleefully passed the info along to someone else. Great work, Internet! The Internet is the the Panopticon realized, perfected and made flesh: not only do we watch each other, but we enthusiastically watch ourselves. Social Media has turned us all into attention seekers, TMIers. Did any regular reader of boingboing.net not see Cory's "NSA Inside" post and inwardly (if not outwardly) groan? And every time I see "This Day in Blogging History" I think to myself "This is what it's coming to: an infinite regression of self-referential comments." A rejection of an aspect of the present isn't a reminiscince of the past. Watch a movie before, say, 1999 and you will see the difference. People weren't attached to their smartphones and laptops and nintendos. But more than that, people were different, they regarded others, and the activities of others, in a different way. Hell, we ARE the nsa; the nsa is in US. Another subject: childhood obesity (and now adult obesity) is a direct result of home videogaming and internet addiction. There is a PSA commercial running now that recommends that kids get "at least 30 minutes of exercise a day". Wow. We're having to talk kids into running around outdoors for 30 minutes. Many of us physically look different now, because of the Internet in our lives (heck, as our lives.) Thanks, Internet. Radio, and later television, did not radically change people's physical and mental makeup, folks. Neither of them changed society as we know it. The Internet did that. Go to youtube and watch a news broadcast from as recently as eh i dunno the mid 90s? late 90s? and look at one now. Or better yet, a talk show. People act differently now. People interact differently now. Grown men and women use memespeak. There's a "hive" mentality to it all. We pass the latest "clever" or "interesting" or "scandalous" bit/byte on to our friends, and so on and so on and so on. We wind up sharing the same ideas. When we receive the same stimuli, our responses become the same, or become more likely to be the same. We become plottable. Managable. Our outrage at the Africa aids comment girl, at the kids who bullied the old lady on the bus, at the woman who threw the cat in the garbage can, it's all just so much BS. "The Internet: always reminding us that somewhere, someone is doing something we can get worked up about." The Internet churns the ethers that make us less human.


#13

Doesn't Google rather explicitly make information profitable via making it accessible?


#14

TL;DR: "Git off ma lawn!"


#15


#16

I'm running on too little sleep I imagine, but what's the point of the still from BBT?


#17

Never heard of this guy...but I'm already a fan.

The Internet is useful. Cell phones are useful. Technology by and large has been shown to be helpful to humanity: except when used for (un)intentional evil. The same could be said for Industry: millions, if not billions of lives improved...but the unintended consequences are legion.

Medical breakthroughs that cure disease are 'good'...having a majority of the world population living until 120: maybe not so great. But decrying innovation in modern medicine is a position taken by heartless kooks and religious fanatics; not much point to it.

But the quasi-utopian rhetoric of the unlimited potential of technology as some kind of panacea that will give us everything we want while simultaneously making us better?

More often than not...it's a sales pitch.

I get a fair amount of amusement in this brave new world, and I am truly grateful to live in these amazing times: and credit must be given to scientists/inventors/entrepreneurs with the foresight, acumen and drive that have brought so much new energy and improvements to our world. Yet I myself have little hope for the future: I mostly think that civilization is a thin veneer over bred in the bone savage tendencies, and technology both postpones and hastens our inevitable decline.

If I'm wrong; great! Save the planet smart people: we huddled masses are counting on you! And if it actually turns out to be mostly self-serving bullshit, eh, it's been a pretty fun ride.

Anyhow, I enjoy pissed off contrarian diatribes: I'll check out Mr. Morozov...though I wonder which book to start with...any recommendations?


#18

The Internet deserves better critics than Morozov. He seems to throw a bunch of shade up and see what sticks. Some of it's aimed in the right directions, but frequently for the wrong reasons. His actual policy proposals are pretty terrible (he thinks Google should delist pages with inaccurate content, for instance). And he's shrill without being smart: he mocks "makers" over semantics (because software isn't a thing, or something). I very much want critics of Internet triumphalism -- that's part of what I get out of boingboing -- I just don't think Morozov is a particularly smart version of this.


#19

I just thought he was a boring one-note doomer that never seemed worth the read. Thanks for setting me right!


#20

He's not so bad. He's not so great. He'd probably agree.

Hey, if more people called BS on the shit-ton of schlock that really does stink of guru-matic GIGO then maybe they could put him out of work, but people lap that crap up, don't they.