More righteous technological contrarianism from Morozov (The Net Delusion, 2011, etc.). Can technology solve social problems? To an extent, perhaps, writes the author. But for every Utopian application of a computer, dystopia awaits: Technology may afford hitherto disenfranchised or at least undercounted people an equal voice, but inside the world of clicks, likes and read-throughs lurk dragons. Morozov, who calls himself a "digital heretic," doesn't offer fully fleshed solutions to the problems a detechnologized world poses, but he dislikes the thought of the "frictionless future" all the same, even if its contours are sometimes vague. Having had experience with totalitarianism, Morozov is bothered by the prospect of social engineers having ever brighter and shinier tools at their disposal: "All will be tempted to exploit the power of these new techniques, either individually or in combination, to solve a particular problem, be it obesity, climate change, or congestion." It's not that those problems aren't real; it's that, by Morozov's account, what underlies them are things human and not technological, requiring human solutions. Thus it is, he writes, that the brave new world of online education may be exciting to many, but it overlooks a strong component of academic success--namely, the face-to-face (F2F, that is) access students have to their professors. And as for a disintermediating site such as Rate Your Professors? It's just another avatar, writes Morozov, of the introduction of "the consumerist mentality into education." Healthy skepticism dealt with a sometimes too-heavy hand, and a useful corrective for those who believe that we'll somehow engineer ourselves out of our current mess.
“Evgeny Morozov calls himself a ‘digital heretic,' and he is right to do so. Against the reigning consensusthat there is a digital fix for every social and political problem, and that thanks to the technologies that we group together for convenience's sake as the Internet, the brave new world of the future will be one of endless, limitless improvement in every realm of lifeMorozov offers a sophisticated, eloquent, and definitive rebuttal. Technological ‘solutionism,' he argues, is the romantic utopia of our age, and, like Communism or the free market fantasies of Reagan and Thatcher before it, it is one more god doomed to fail. In our ahistorical, gadget obsessed, and self-regarding age, Morozov's skeptical, modest humanism will doubtless engender fierce resistance. But then, that is the tribute that self-delusion has always paid to reason. Voltairean in its lucidity, To Save Everything, Click Here is not just a brilliant book, it is a necessary one.”
Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia
Richard Sennett, author of The Craftsman
“This hard-hitting book argues people have become enslaved to the machines they use to communicate. It is incisive and beautifully written; whether you agree with Morozov or not, he will make you think hard."
Bruce Sterling, author of The Hacker Crackdown
"For the brilliant dissident Evgeny Morozov, computers are like broken beach-toys on the dark, historic tides of power politics. His new book should be bound in sandpaper and used to abrade the works of other Internet pundits."
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, distinguished professor of risk engineering at NYU-Polytechnic and author of The Black Swan and Antifragile
"A clear voice of reason and critical thinking in the middle of today's neomania.”
David Rieff, author of A Bed For the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis
“When it comes to anything ‘internet' related, Evgeny Morozov is the writer who brings us back to earth. Lubricated by snake oil, too much of what we read about the internet and the possibilities offered by modern technology is hypertext hyperbole. In this riotous read, Morozov continues his quest to restore empirical rationality in our own thinking about our techno-utopian pipe-dreams. We have become gullible to what Morozov calls solutionism, the idea that whatever complex situation we face, we can solve it simply by finding the right algorithm, and thanks to technology we can find a solution. We have seen this before, with Condorcet and other thinkers of the Enlightenment, but then, as now, too much reliance on mathematics when we are dealing with problems of people and society leads inevitably to failure. Today, we who live, work, and dream in cyberspace need Morozov to keep our feet firmly planted on Terra Firma.”