Interesting thoughts throughout, and good commentary on/by an author, Evgeny Morozov, I hadn’t heard of before but an individual who will become more prevalent after his latest book release. Also interesting to see the link between internet/big data entrepreneurship and the likes of Jane Jacobs. Even though this is ripe fodder for the gray haired techno scared who are likely to misinterpret it and while I don’t agree with everything here, I think it is very helpful to listen to the critics of the culture that is sometimes more then the task or outcome of startups today.
“Solutionism is ultimately central planning by another name. The arrogance of the urban planner reappears as the arrogance of the agent-based modeller and the Internet entrepreneur: the plan is still monolithic, but now takes the shape of a network.”
“When Brian Chesky of AirBnB complains that there are 30,000 different cities in which he wants to operate, and that it’s just not practical to negotiate with each one, he is not designing a bottom-up solution, he is imposing a top-down network. He is demanding that cities become “legible” in James Scott’s terminology, to his overarching (and simplistic) algorithms.”
“Jean-Paul Sartre, the existentialist philosopher who celebrated the anguish of decision as a hallmark of responsibility, has no place in Silicon Valley. Whatever their contribution to our maturity as human beings, decisions also bring out pain and, faced with a choice between maturity and pain-minimization, Silicon Valley has chosen the latter — perhaps as a result of yet another instant poll.”
“But smart glasses could do so much more! Why not edit out disturbing sights that haunt us on the way to work? Last year the futurist Ayesha Khanna even described smart contact lenses that could make homeless people disappear from view, “enhancing our basic sense” and, undoubtedly, making our lives so much more enjoyable”
“Such predisposition makes it harder to notice that not all problems are problems, and that those problems that do prove genuine might require long and protracted institutional responses, not just quick technological fixes produced at “hackathons” or viral videos to belatedly shame Ugandan warlords into submission.”
“The ideology of solutionism is thus essential to helping Silicon Valley maintain its image. The technology press — along with the meme-hustlers at the TED conference — are only happy to play up any solutionist undertakings. “Africa? There’s an app for that,” reads a real (!) headline on the Web site of the British edition of Wired. Could someone lend that app to the World Bank, please?”
“The French philosopher Michel Serres is right: ‘Neither information nor a drug fix ever gives any happiness when you have it, but will make you miserable when you don’t.”