In the final chapter of “The Net Delusion,” Morozov focuses on the problems continues to focus on the problems of trying to apply technological fixes to much more complicated (or “wicked”) problems. He points out that such fixes tend to have unknown costs, and that they address symptoms rather than root causes.
Importantly, he reminds us that those who claim to have these technological understandings and solutions are those with the most to gain from implementing them, and urges caution in trusting them with major policy decisions.
Morozov closes his tome with exploring what he calls a “cyber-realist manifesto.” Using Ethan Zuckerman’s essay, “Internet Freedom: Beyond Circumvention” as a jumping off point, he suggests policy makers start prioritizing context, regional experts, and case-by-case analyses of political problems, rather than highly theoretical, technological-only, “silver bullet” fixes. “For cyber-realists, the promotion of democracy would be too important an activity to run it out of a Silicon Valley lab with a reputation for exotic experiments.”
Questions for discussion:
1) Morozov mentions the “information trinity of authoritarianism – propaganda, censorship, and surveillance” and says that in fighting one pillar, Western policy makers may end up strengthening the other two. Given this, what would you recommend policy makers focus on with their Information policy?
2) What, if anything, would you add to Morozov’s “cyber-realist manifesto”? Is it even feasible to re-calibrate public policy to incorporate his suggestions?
3) Overall, what were your impressions of “The Net Delusion”? How do the events of 2011 in particular affect your view of Morozov’s ideas?
Chapter 1 – The Google Doctrine
Chapter 2 – Texting Like It’s 1989
Chapter 3 – Orwell’s Favorite Lolcat
Chapter 4 – Censors and Sensibilities
Chapter 5 – Hugo Chavez Would Like to Welcome You to the Spinternet
Chapter 6 – Why the KGB Wants You to Join Facebook
Chapter 7 – Why Kierkegaard Hates Slacktivism
Chapter 8 – Open Networks, Narrow Minds
Chapter 9 – Internet Freedoms and Their Consequences
Chapter 10 – Making History (More Than a Browser Menu)
Chapter 11 – The Wicked Fix