Way Down In The Hole

It used to be our word against yours. It used to be said—correctly—that the patrolman on the beat on any American police force was the last perfect tyranny. Absent a herd of reliable witnesses, there were things he could do to deny you your freedom or kick your ass that were between him, you, and the street. The smartphone with its small, digital camera, is a revolution in civil liberties.

— David Simon, creator/producer/writer of The Wire, in an interview with Vice

You Do You

In a world where the selfie has become our dominant art form, tautological phrases like “You do you” and its tribe provide a philosophical scaffolding for our ever-­evolving, ever more complicated narcissism.

— Colson Whitehead, “How ‘You Do You’ Perfectly Captures Our Narcissistic Culture” in the NYTimes

Harder, not Easier

If anything, the Internet makes it harder, not easier, to get people to care, if only because the alternatives to political action are so much more pleasant and risk-free. This doesn’t mean that we in the West should stop promoting unfettered (read: uncensored) access to the Internet; rather, we need to find ways to supplant our promotion of a freer Internet with strategies that can engage people in political and social life.

— Evgeny Morozov, The Net Delusion (2011): 75


The Myth of Uninterrupted Technical Progress

Technological society thrives on a tenacious myth, the myth of uninterrupted technical progress accompanied by a continuing moral ‘backwardness’ of man relative thereto…A supposed moral contradiction serves to conceal the true contradiction, which is the fact, precisely, that the present production system, while working for real technological progress, at the same time opposes it (along with any restructuring of social relationships to which it might lead).

— Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects: 124

It’s time to recognize the Internet as a basic human right

“It’s time to recognize the Internet as a basic human right. That means guaranteeing affordable access for all, ensuring Internet packets are delivered without commercial or political discrimination, and protecting the privacy and freedom of Web users regardless of where they live.”

Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist who invented the World Wide Web


Control and Becoming

“We’re moving toward control societies that no longer operate by confining people but through continuous control and instant communication…One can of course see how each kind of society corresponds to a particular kind of machine—with simple mechanical machines corresponding to sovereign societies, thermodynamic machines to disciplinary societies, cybernetic machines and computers to control societies. But the machines don’t explain anything, you have to analyze the collective arrangements of which the machines are just one component.”

— Gilles Deleuze, “Control and Becoming” in Negotiations (1990): 174f.


Radical Democratization

The people who developed the personal computer considered it a device of radical democratization from its inception. It was a way to open levels of symbolic transformation, and the work and information that went with them, to people hitherto shut out from this world.

— Richard A. Lanham, The Electronic Word (1993): 108.


A National Crusade

Opportunity for all requires something else today, having access to a computer and knowing how to use it. That means we must close the digital divide between those who’ve got the tools and those who don’t . . . This is a national crusade. We have got to do this and do it quickly.

— President Bill Clinton

2000 State of the Union Address



Far from Lear

Human in this [modern, technological] construction is far from Lear’s “unaccommodated man,” “a poor, bare, forked animal”; rather, human in developed countries now means (for those who have access) cognitive capacities that extend into the environment, tap into virtually limitless memory storage, navigate effortlessly by GPS, and communicate in seconds with anyone anywhere in the world (who also has access).

— N. Katherine Hayles

How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (2012): 96f.