Wednesday, April 03, 2013

On Naked Capitalism and the Meme Hustler

Beyond all the vitriol, the essence of the argument put forward by "New York Times guest columnist" Evgeny Morozov in the "Meme Hustler" is that economic and technological development is not the same as the progress of a society. This is a perfectly reasonable point as progress requires some concept of where you are heading whilst economic and technological development are simply a means to an end. 

Unfortunately the author fails to acknowledge that the target of the article Tim O'Reilly has made the same point on numerous occasions in the past with his discussions on what is the system that we are creating. Rather than dealing with this, the article has been selective in its facts to suit its own pursuit of being a source of "truth" and portraying O'Reilly as a ruthless propagandist of commercial and political interests. 

The article, written by an author of a recently published work with their own commercial interest would appear guilty of conducting the very same acts they would accuse others of. It is at the least unwittingly hypocritical. The accusation that it will help Morozov sell a few more books resonates too loudly and is bound to be repeated. 

In 2006, I wrote on my concerns of our continued development of a Stentorocracy (from the greek hero with the big lungs) - a society based upon who shouts loudest - rather than a true meritocracy. If Morozov's article does one thing then it highlights how discussion, debate and enquiry are replaced by shouting, trolling and propaganda and his article is simply part of this rather than the solution. 

I highlighted the quote "New York Times guest columnist" because for me this is akin to the issue of "You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you". The arguments need to stand on their own merit, the references to credentials as though this provides some authoritative weight has always been at the heart of the problem whether it's the New York Times, The Edge or any other group that professes to be a fountain of truth. 

I would argue that O'Reilly was right to be concerned about what is the system or machine that we are creating and Morozov has clearly pointed out a path which I don't believe we should be heading down. More the pity is the questions Morozov raises are worthy of discussion just not in this manner. Strip out the vitriol and the ad hominem attacks and underneath is the basis of a good and worthy article. How cheaply such discourse and enquiry has been sold.