Morozov’s new book warns of how too much reliance on the internet as a ‘solution’ is counter productive to what the internet was designed to achieve.
In this interview with The Guardian, Morozov talks about the perils of technology and how it limits democracy, promotes authoritarianism and removes choice and innovation.
What is the role of technology in our lives? Do we want it to do the thinking for us by obviating problem solving? Or are technologies there to enhance our problem solving? Morozov’s view is that there’s a very real danger that over-reliance on technology to automate thinking makes us dumb. Moreover, he questions the roles of Facebook and Google as controllers of thinking and innovation, by not scrutinising such companies closely enough.
If Twitter, he argues, promotes people and sites which support twitter, then they’re following a business model rather than a model of net-neutrality. This is where users should be more critical of what they consume and what they believe, Morozov asserts.
Overall, Morozov pushes for more independent thought and less reliance on internet sound bites and click throughs. The internet is more about marketing, advertising and dominance.
While his concerns are valid, I disagree with his assertion that groups like TED are a failure because it’s not “deep”. While depth is (obviously) desired, there’s also a need to appeal to viewers in a consumable way. If TED talks were nuclear physics, then the audience would be limited and TED would be less successful. Instead, TED seems to me to be striving towards getting ideas out there and gaining interest. It’s a starting point for many people to begin digging further and finding the ‘depth’ that Morozov desires.
Like TOR networks, perhaps learning can be thought of in stages: entry node, middle node, exit node. TED is an entry node and, thus, it’s interesting and consumable without being too deep. Middle node learning would take place via scientific forums, wikis and academic readings (via Google Scholar).
None the less, I’ll try and acquire a copy of Morozov’s book. It looks like a good read.