March 12, 2013

Evgeny #Morozov weirds out

Evgeny Morozov, one of the leading Cassandras of what I call "the Dark Side of the Internet," has an interesting, quite interesting, interview in The Guardian.

Among the things in it is this nugget:
I've become very strategic about my use of technology as life is short and I want to use it wisely. I have bought myself a type of laptop from which it was very easy to remove the Wi-Fi card – so when I go to a coffee shop or the library I have no way to get online. However, at home I have cable connection. So I bought a safe with a timed combination lock. It is basically the most useful artefact in my life. I lock my phone and my router cable in my safe so I'm completely free from any interruption and I can spend the entire day, weekend or week reading and writing.
He was then asked if the timer has a workaround. To which, he replied:
To circumvent my safe I have to open a panel with a screwdriver, so I have to hide all my screwdrivers in the safe as well. So I would have to leave home to buy a screwdriver – the time and cost of doing this is what stops me. It's not that I can't say "no" to myself. I just waste too much energy having the internal conversation. I'd rather delegate the control to my safe and use my remaining willpower to get something done. I find it a very effective system.
Sounds like some version of Internet addiction, if you buy that as a real issue. (As I sit here typing out a blog post.)

That pair of paragraphs then, speaking of blogs, led to a long blog post with even longer comment section, by Nicholas Carr, another Dark Sider, but one perhaps somewhat more nuanced, and more broad-minded in the range of his critiques at the same time, than Morozov.

I love reading a lot of Morozov. His putdowns of Jeff Jarvis and Clay Shirky are simply excellent, and I wish he'd do more of the same to Jay Rosen.

But, as the dialogue goes on and on, a lot of his comments to Carr sound more and more like special pleading.

And, ipso facto, proving Morozov wrong, and that there is a real thing called "the Internet," albeit with sometimes fuzzy borders.

I also don't get why Morozov, if he is that worried about the Internet whose existence as a more than just a message medium he denies, has a smartphone, even if he locks it up along with his computer cable.

Or, if he thinks the problem is overreliance on technology in general, the critique still partially applies.

That said, vis-a-vis Carr, and some others, I think his critiques are too narrowly focused at times.

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