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

Morozov

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A Temporary and Expensive Substitute

The fact is that an elaborate mechanical organization is often a temporary and expensive substitute for an effective social organization or for a sound biological adaptation.

— Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization    (qtd. in Baudrillard, System of Objects: 126)

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

Berners-Lee

E-residency is a form of supranational digital identity issued, for the first time, by a country. It’s the online self, now with a government imprimatur.

— Estonia has become the first country to issue an officially recognized digital identity

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.

Deleuze

Burke on Big Tech

I’m not too sure that, in the present state of Big Technology’s confusions, any educational policy, even if it were itself perfect and were adopted throughout the world, would be able to help much, when the world is so ardently beset by so much distress and malice.

Kenneth Burke, “Definition of Man” in Language as Symbolic Action (1966): 20.

Burke