To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism

amnesia and complete indifference to history (especially the history of technological amnesia) remain the defining features of contemporary Internet debate.

Celebrating innovation for its own sake is in bad taste. For technology truly to augment reality, its designers and engineers should get a better idea of the complex practices that our reality is composed of.

Half-baked ideas that might seem too big even for the naïfs at TED Conferences—that Woodstock of the intellectual effete—sit rather comfortably on Silicon Valley’s business plans.

If Amazon’s dream of a world without gatekeepers becomes reality, then the company itself will become a powerful gatekeeper.

Il «soluzionismo» [concepisce] ogni questione come un rompicapo per il quale esiste una soluzione, piuttosto che come un problema per il quale potrebbe esserci una risposta. GILLES PAQUET

One would think that by the second decade of the twenty-first century, the intellectual poverty of technocracy and the primacy of politics over it would be a well-established truth in need of no further defense.

Politwoops, a project of the Sunlight Foundation, collects and highlights tweets deleted by politicians, as if they should never be granted an opportunity to regret what they say. Perhaps the Sunlight Foundation would prefer that politicians say nothing at all. Technologies

quasi-religious sentiment about “the Internet

Recasting all complex social situations either as neatly defined problems with definite, computable solutions or as transparent and self-evident processes that can be easily optimized—if only the right algorithms are in place!—this quest is likely to have unexpected consequences that could eventually cause more damage than the problems they seek to address.

Someone ought to publish a book about the doomsayers who keep publishing books about the end of publishing.

TED Conferences – una sorta di Woodstock dell’estenuazione intellettualistica

The goal of privacy is not to protect some stable self from erosion but to create boundaries where this self can emerge, mutate, and stabilize.

the spirit of the Internet.” This spirit is a powerful myth concocted by overzealous legal activists, and the sooner we bury it, the better.

To reject solutionism is to transcend the narrow-minded rationalistic mindset that recasts every instance of an efficiency deficit [...] as an obstacle that needs to be overcome.

We must not fixate on what this new arsenal of digital technologies allows us to do without first inquiring what is worth doing.

Who today is mad enough to challenge the virtues of eliminating hypocrisy from politics? Or of providing more information—the direct result of self-tracking—to facilitate decision making? Or of finding new incentives to get people interested in saving humanity, fighting climate change, or participating in politics? Or of decreasing crime? To question the appropriateness of such interventions, it seems, is to question the Enlightenment itself.

And yet I feel that such questioning is necessary.