A change in popular views of technology?

March 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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There are indications that utopian views of technological advance are being pushed back by more measured appraisals. This utopianism was out in full force during the Tunisian, but especially Egyptian revolutions. The techno-utopian view is that new media deterministically imply democracy. (This isn’t entirely dissimilar to Thomas Friedman’s ‘Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Resolution’ (countries with McDonald’s don’t go to war against each other…).)

However, Evgeny Morozov’s book, The Net Delusion argues against this, saying that actually the web enables dictatorial regimes to surveil its citizens in unprecedented ways. Today, an article in the Guardian quotes excerpts from a talk given by Julian Assange, in which he describes the Internet as “the greatest spying machine the world has ever seen”.

Are these weak signals of a more nuanced approach to technology? Or are they simply representations of technological distopianism? I suspect the former, and welcome such a move.