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[liberationtech] Terry Winograd and Evgeny Morozov

Lina Srivastava lina at linasrivastava.com
Tue Jul 2 12:00:54 PDT 2013


I'd argue Morozov isn't a journalist at all. He is a writer and researcher
who publishes rhetorical opinion. His voice is absolutely necessary, as you
all point out, for its being one of the few on the opposite side of a
prevailing pro-SV world view.  I find myself in agreement with most of the
positions he takes, but pushed back by his nasty discussions about and
call-outs of individuals. It's hard to take, and undermines what he is
seeking to do, if that is communicating argument to the larger public and
advancing the public interest. His methods of community building and
creating spaces for discourse are nearly TMZ-like.  (On another note, it's
also strange that he delves into areas of discourse of which he has no
practical knowledge of -- his takedown of Kickstarter "culture" as one
example -- but I guess this isn't that different from most people who make
a living out of critique and commentary. But really, "try it before you
critique it" would be a motto I'd like to see applied more often.) It would
be good to see his intellect and his voice be directed away from that. His
work is important to the field.

My two cents.


On Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 2:08 PM, Yosem Companys <companys at stanford.edu>wrote:

> Evgeny's critique of Silicon Valley intellectual fads is indeed
> worthwhile.  What's surprising is that he is one of the only journalists to
> make this critique, considering the large number of people who have said
> similar things before him, which makes Evgeny's voice even more important.  What
> is new in Evgeny's work is his desire to communicate these arguments to the
> larger public and to advance the public interest.
>
> Sociologists and historians of science and technology -- along with the
> field known as science, technology and society studies -- have critiqued
> the Internet since at least the 1980's, with a larger critique about
> science and technology since at least the 1950's and 1960's.
>
> Meanwhile, most journalists from the 1980's until recently have seemed
> more interested in promulgating the claims of Silicon Valley, which had a
> financial interest in their promulgation, than in communicating the
> problems associated with the Internet, which social scholars spent so much
> time documenting among themselves.  This is not an indictment of
> journalism.  There were, among other reasons, institutional pressures
> during this period for journalists to use press-release templates.
> Moreover, finding out what academics do as a non-academic is a long,
> arduous process.
>
> For academics, the problem here, of course, is that their incentive is
> focused on publishing articles to get tenure, rather than engaging the
> public at large.  This means that academics spend the bulk of their time
> talking to one another rather than to journalists or even fellow academics
> outside of their disciplines.
>
> In fact, interdisciplinary contact in academia remained so limited that
> legal scholars, political scientists, economists, computer scientists and
> engineers were mostly in the dark about the wonderful research that
> sociologists and historians of science and technology had done to dissect
> the taken-for-granted assumptions of science and technology.  This is
> changing but slowly.
>
> Even when aware of such research, as in the case of many American
> economists, they may choose to ignore the arguments of sociologists or
> pretend they don't exist because they come from what they deem as the
> lower-status field of sociology.  Meanwhile, American sociologists
> routinely engage the work of economists, so the relationship is asymmetric.
>  (I say American economists because, interestingly, this problem doesn't
> seem to happen in Europe.)
>
> Journalists, on the other hand, are in the business of writing interesting
> news stories, which means that they will (often inadvertently) cherry pick
> academic evidence, mostly ignoring the nuances of the larger academic
> literature.
>
> We see this, for example, with the meme of "robots are taking your jobs."
>  Most of the evidence in the social sciences shows that technological
> change was faster during the industrial revolution that it is today and
> that whether a particular technology replaces your job or not depends on
> the social conditions in which the technology was created and the social
> conditions to which the technology is introduced.  Routine jobs are more
> replaceable than non-routine jobs, for instance.  But technologies
> generally don't replace professional jobs, and they often create
> non-routine jobs as well.  Yet you rarely hear journalists discuss any of
> these issues.  Instead, you hear that the singu
>
> As a result, both academics and journalists seem to be ignoring their
> responsibility to advance the public interest in the Internet domain.  For
> the sake of humanity, this should and must change, and this is one of the
> reasons why we at Stanford Liberationtech conduct interdisciplinary
> research and engage the world at large through our various activities,
> online and off.  And it is also why we are supportive of the efforts of
> people like Evgeny Morozov and others in journalism who seek to improve
> public discourse.
>
> On Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 9:34 AM, Lucas Gonze <lucas.gonze at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> I find Morozov's critique of silicon valley intellectual fads
>> worthwhile. The thinking coming from famous bloggers and tech industry
>> conferences is for the most part hype for the sake of commerce.
>> Morozov's writing is to puncture that hype bubble. This is a valuable
>> goal and he does it well.
>>
>>
>> On Mon, Jul 1, 2013 at 11:51 PM, Soenke Zehle <s.zehle at xmlab.org> wrote:
>> > maybe EM's style is more like a 'firstism' (make it sound like you're
>> > the first to make a particular point, obscuring other more or less
>> > readily available forms of critique)
>> >
>> > EM: "Let's get the Nazis out of the way first. There's a considerable
>> > body of serious scholarship looking at the technological thought of
>> > the Nazis. They had plenty of engineers and scientists and some had
>> > rather ambitious theoretical ambitions. (Not to mention that Carl
>> > Schmidt and Heidegger, whatever their relationship to Nazism, wrote
>> > about technology)."
>> >
>> > Yes Heidegger wrote about technology. But that's one of the places
>> > where firstism just won't do - to read Heidegger and his philosophy of
>> > technology in 'solutionist' terms ends up discrediting the
>> > anti-solutionist project imo. Funny Foucault quote: 'For me, Heidegger
>> > has always been the essential philosopher. My whole philosophical
>> > development was determined by my reading of Heidegger.'
>> >
>> > Soenke
>> >
>> > 2013/7/2 Andrés Leopoldo Pacheco Sanfuentes <alps6085 at gmail.com>:
>> >> On Mon, Jul 1, 2013 at 6:26 PM, x z <xhzhang at gmail.com> wrote:
>> >>> Morozov
>> >>
>> >> Well, to Morozov's credit, that's why philosophers prefer German,
>> >> French, Spanish, etcetera, to English! :D
>> >>
>> >> Best Regards | Cordiales Saludos | Grato,
>> >>
>> >> Andrés L. Pacheco Sanfuentes
>> >> <alps at acm.org>
>> >> +1 (817) 271-9619
>> >> --
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>
>
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-- 
Lina Srivastava
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