technology from back to front

Small and healthily skeptical is good

Tim Malbon says he’s pleased to be involved in this Web thing, but appears to conflate lack of full assimilation with brain-washing.

One can be a tiny bundle of techno-lust and not believe that successive versions of the Web will lead directly to a shiny new future.

Posting photos to Flickr (Web2.0) seems like something of a tenuous, circuitious route to finding housing for homeless children (shiny future). On the other hand, if you followed that link you’re contributing to something like a counter-argument.

It’s not that I begrudge boosterism, because some interesting things come about that way. I just find the juxtaposition of They see [the Web] as ‘work’ rather than the defining social revolution du jour with They have the air of people who belong to a mind control cult as, well, exquisite.

Having said all that: I quite agree with Tim’s sentiments that Small is Good, creating neat technology isn’t work, and I’d rather be passionate about what I do than uninterested (happily, I am the former).

  1. Web 1.0 | Literay Programming –> Web 2.0 | Literary Criticism

  2. tim malbon
    on 30/08/06 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks Mike. I felt a bit bad about slagging my holiday-mates off in that post. I really hope they don’t see it – although, sadly, I know that one of them subscribes to my feed (oops).

    “Mind control” was a step too far. It would be more accurate to say that they are like frightened factory workers rather than proud artisans. I suppose it may have something to do with owning a bigger slice of the means of production (or feeling that you do – even if this is an illusion). I think you get that feeling if you’re in a smaller and more agile company – and closer to the business end as an individual.

    I don’t see the new Web as a panacea for all social problems, any more than the invention of the printing press was. That’s West Coast, hot-tub psycho-babble. And I’m more inclined to believe in the un-wisdom of crowds. However, like the invention of printing, surely you would agree that all this new web stuff will change our world, our cultures and societies – and possibly even our bodies – (for good or bad) far more than anything I can think of in history.

    Sharing photos on Flickr with people from North Korea, China – or anywhere else that is has traditionally been difficult to interact with – may lead to a shinier future. It’s got to be better than a stand-off and mutual ignorance. All of this is so new we can’t possibly understand its trajectory properly.

    Oh dear. maybe i’ve overstepped the mark again.

  3. Hey Tim, I think I get your message better with that restatement.

    You’re right, it is uncontroversial to say that the Web encourages (is) communication, and thereby understanding and tolerance; the trick I suppose is to not be distracted from the destination by the vehicle.

    Web2.0 applications are all about providing stylised, streamlined social interaction (“hey, these people also tagged themselves as ‘in-a-promising-local-band’, we’re some kind of tribe”). I’m not decided on whether that’s a Good Thing — but it’s happening regardless, and like you say it would be impossible to know ahead of time in any case.


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