Thursday, March 3, 2011

Is cyber-utopianism delusional?

Is the Internet making political revolution faster and more efficient or is it facilitating dicatators' agendas?

While many of us fluent with social media think that Twitter is the greatest thing since sliced bread, others react with fear and trepidation to the potential for abuse by corrupt dictators. What's at stake here is:

....the murky relationship between governments and technology companies, and the Internet’s dual role as a tool for the oppressed and for the oppressor. The shift in conversation dovetails nicely with the central arguments laid out in “The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom,” written by Evgeny Morozov, a fellow at the New America Foundation and a blogger for Foreign Policy magazine.

I have been drinking the cyber-utopian kool-aid and it feels really good to consider the  Internet a powerful tool of political emancipation.  However,  Morozov convincingly argues that, in freedom’s name, the Internet more often than not constricts or even abolishes freedom.

On the other hand, I believe that so-called smart authoritarian governments cannot respond with the speed and daring of those who call for revolution. It's not only Facebook and Twitter that dictators need to worry about. There's a media literacy in general that matters.  Google Earth is not going away soon and neither is Al-Jazeera.

The big brother aspect which Morozov details is certainly worrisome. It's a title our library will definitely purchase and I will read. Perhaps I'll change my mind.
But for now, I'm betting on the speed of information against all comers.

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