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[liberationtech] Terry Winograd and Evgeny Morozov

Lucas Gonze lucas.gonze at
Tue Jul 2 12:44:05 PDT 2013

I also had a hard time with his nastiness, which struck me as vapid.

On Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 12:00 PM, Lina Srivastava
<lina at> wrote:
> 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>
> 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> 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> 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>:
>>> >> On Mon, Jul 1, 2013 at 6:26 PM, x z <xhzhang at> 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>
>>> >> +1 (817) 271-9619
>>> >> --
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> Lina Srivastava
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