there is no such thing as the internet


Popular writers about technology, including Clay Shirky, Jeff Jarvis, Steven Johnson, and Kevin Kelly, have been riding the wave of what critic Evgeny Morozov calls “Internet Centrism”: the idea that “the Internet” is a distinct historical and technological phenomenon, and that its emergence has marked a revolution in thought and perhaps even human consciousness, one that will allow—no, destine—us to march forward into better lives and better times. To some of these writers, we will all be just fine as long as we maintain faith in the power of “the Internet.” On the other hand, if we surrender to nostalgia, raise concerns a priori, or sneer at grandiose predictions of “creative destruction” or “the Singularity,” we risk waking up from this lovely dream. Deviation or dissent from the Internet-centric consensus is nothing less than a retrograde, elitist, and possibly authoritarian inclination. In his new book, To Save Everything, Click Here, Morozov—a onetime online activist who now calls himself a “digital heretic”—effectively punctures the shallow myths of Internet centrism. But then he stabs repeatedly, flailing at its shadows and echoes in the works of more responsible and sophisticated writers such as Harvard Law professors Lawrence Lessig and Jonathan Zittrain.

more from Siva Vaidhyanathan at Bookforum here.