Western Assumptions about Technology

by Jan 14, 2011Tech1 comment

Americans assume that the Internet is a tool for democracy. Not necessarily so, says a new book (or rather a review of it).

Authoritarian regimes make an implicit deal with their populations: help yourselves to pirated films, silly video clips and online pornography, but stay away from politics. “The internet”, Mr Morozov argues, “has provided so many cheap and easily available entertainment fixes to those living under authoritarianism that it has become considerably harder to get people to care about politics at all.”

And not just politics, I’d say.

And not just those living under authoritarianism…

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1 Comment
  1. Duncan

    Yet it clearly isn’t strictly a tool for totalitarianism or heresy either:

    So what does Mr Morozov propose instead of the current approach? He calls for “cyber-realism” to replace “cyber-utopianism”, making it clear that he believes that technology can indeed be used to promote democracy, provided it is done in the right way. But he presents little in the way of specific prescriptions, other than to stress the importance of considering the social and political context in which technology is deployed, rather than focusing on the characteristics of the technology itself, as internet gurus tend to. Every authoritarian regime is different, he argues, so it is implausible that the same approach will work in each case; detailed local knowledge is vital. Yet having done such a good job of knocking down his opponents’ arguments, it is a pity he does not have more concrete proposals to offer in their place.

    Free access, employed in service of truth, still does some good even if it isn’t a panacea.

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