Monday, June 03, 2013

The Internet Ideology

TLS May 24, 2013

from Michael Saler's review of Evgeny Morozov's To Save Everything, Click Here: Technology, solutionism and the urge to fix problems that don't exist, and Jason Lanier's Who Owns the Future?:

The internet ideology provides a quasi-religious vision of how human relationships will be transformed, material abundance created, and transcendence attained through human-machine interactions. Its prophets cite its decentralized and open strucutre as the model for a free, egalitarian and transparent world order. Their holy writ is Moore's Law, which suggests that computers will "evolve" exponentially, doubling their prowess every two years or so. Their eschatology is the Singularity, which predicts that machines will outstrip humans in the near future, and benevolently uplift (or simply upload) mere mortals to nerd Nirvana. In the interim, the messy stuff of ordinary existence will be tamed by quantifying it into the bits and butes of Information Theory, and transformed into "Big Data" for the Information Economy. . . . 
The internet ideology is difficult to dislodge because it is not simply an immaterial ideal; it is materially embedded in a global infrastructure made up of machines, software, private businesses and public institutions. This infrastructure influences how we think and behave, and once locked in may be difficult to change. 

2 comments:

Ms. said...

Ah Jee...you have a new format and at last I can comment...YAY. The internet will not upload our thoughts until we agree to be embedded with chips. Even if such were imposed, the consciousness at the core might evade capture. But, it is true that, like any tool, it can, therefore will, be corrupted, misused, and manipulated to the benefit of those we might not choose to hang with. And, because it exists within a Capital economy, access to it costs someone something. But, like every tool, it can be used efficiently for what ever purpose one's discrimination and understanding dictates. If, indeed, it outstrips our abilities, perhaps we will float forever in the communal cloud out there like the commander in "2001". Till then, or till the power fails and I run out of the ability to maintain a connection, I'm glad to read your words today.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Thanks for giving your thoughts on the matter. I also think that the Internet is a kind of tool, but like all tools it is enmeshed in ideology, praxis and institutions. I don't see a way to avoid participation, if avoidance is desirable, but at the very least we should understanding the nature of the web that we agree to participate in.