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In The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate the World Evgeny Morozov argues that our utopian, internet-centric thinking holds devastating consequences for the future of democracy. We were promised that the internet would set us free. From the Middle East's 'twitter revolution' to Facebook activism, technology would spread democracy and bring us together as never before. We couldn't have been more wrong. In The Net Delusion Evgeny Morozov shows why internet freedom is an illusion. Not only that - in many cases the net is actually helping oppressive regimes to stifle dissent, track dissidents and keep people pacified, with companies such as Google and Amazon helping them do it. This book shows that free information doesn't mean free people - and that, right now, everyone's liberty is at stake. 'Offers a rare note of wisdom and common sense, on an issue overwhelmed by digital utopians' Malcolm Gladwell 'Passionate, admirable and important' Observer 'The book is a wake-up call to those who think the internet is the solution to all our problems' Daily Telegraph 'A delight ... his demolition job on the embarrassments of "internet freedom" is comprehensive' Independent 'A compelling rebuff ... required reading for everyone' Sunday Times 'Piercing ... convincing ... timely' Financial Times Evgeny Morozov is a contributing editor to Foreign Policy and runs the magazine's influential and widely-quoted 'Net Effect' blog about the Internet's impact on global politics. Morozov is currently a Yahoo! fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University.
Our gadgets are getting smarter. Technology can log what we buy, customize what we consume and enable us to save and share every aspect of our existence. In the future, we're told, it will even make public life - from how we're governed to how we record crime - better. But can the digital age fix everything? Should it? By quantifying our behaviour, Evgeny Morozov argues, we are profoundly reshaping society - and risk losing the opacity and imperfection that make us human.
In the very near future, "smart" technologies and "big data" will
allow us to make large-scale and sophisticated interventions in
politics, culture, and everyday life. Technology will allow us to
solve problems in highly original ways and create new incentives to
get more people to do the right thing. But how will such
"solutionism" affect our society, once deeply political, moral, and
irresolvable dilemmas are recast as uncontroversial and easily
manageable matters of technological efficiency? What if some such
problems are simply vices in disguise? What if some friction in
communication is productive and some hypocrisy in politics
necessary? The temptation of the digital age is to fix
everything--from crime to corruption to pollution to obesity--by
digitally quantifying, tracking, or gamifying behavior. But when we
change the motivations for our moral, ethical, and civic behavior
we may also change the very nature of that behavior. Technology,
Evgeny Morozov proposes, can be a force for improvement--but only
if we keep solutionism in check and learn to appreciate the
imperfections of liberal democracy. Some of those imperfections are
not accidental but by design.
Updated with a new Afterword "The revolution will be Twittered!" declared journalist Andrew Sullivan after protests erupted in Iran. But as journalist and social commentator Evgeny Morozov argues in The Net Delusion , the Internet is a tool that both revolutionaries and authoritarian governments can use. For all of the talk in the West about the power of the Internet to democratize societies, regimes in Iran and China are as stable and repressive as ever. Social media sites have been used there to entrench dictators and threaten dissidents, making it harder- not easier- to promote democracy. Marshalling a compelling set of case studies, The Net Delusion shows why the cyber-utopian stance that the Internet is inherently liberating is wrong, and how ambitious and seemingly noble initiatives like the promotion of"Internet freedom" are misguided and, on occasion, harmful.
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