David Bodanis

Big Bad Net

To Save Everything, Click Here: Technology, Solutionism and the Urge to Fix Problems That Don't Exist

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Who Owns the Future?

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Whenever a new technology comes along, some people are going to get a little bit too excited. It happened with the telegraph (predicted to usher in global peace), with radio (ditto), with space travel (ditto). Even the miracles of media manipulation that could make Tony Blair look trustworthy were, by some, expected to bring about a permanent reign for New Labour. Wise people rarely fall for such crazes, foolish people never escape them, but in between there’s a curious type of human: those with enough puppy-dog enthusiasm to bound after the latest fashion, but – as time goes on – an ability to raise ever so slightly their awareness of history and see that they’ve been hoodwinked after all. The Internet has been better than any of these other technologies – and almost as potent as early-20th-century Marxism – in bringing forth this naivety play.

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