Friday, March 25, 2011

What all Gurus Do Not Want You To Know

Evgeny Morozov, author of "The Net Delusion", who often writes about the political effects of the internet, does a review of a new book by 'technology guru' Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine, titled "What Technology Wants". He explains brilliantly why the gurus write books with cute, fancy names.

Morozov quotes from Kelly's explanation for why he wrote the book:
These “wants” of technology provide a long-horizon framework for business—your business. I’ll be doing as many talks at companies and organizations about “what technology wants” as I can in the coming months.
Morozov compares the current generation of gurus with that of other time:
Kelly is not the first technology guru to make a living by selling advice to corporations.
 ...But it is hard to imagine the previous generation of serious thinkers about technology—the likes of Jacques Ellul and Lewis Mumford and John Dewey—moonlighting as corporate advisers to Danone and Halliburton
 ...In contrast, most of today’s technology gurus-from Kevin Kelly to Clay Shirky to Douglas Rushkoff—take special pride in publicizing how deeply embedded they are in the very industry that they are supposed to scrutinize. 
Morozov says: 'Perhaps this is what technology wants'
In other words, Technology wants companies that can exploit them. Technology needs people that get exploited so that consumers can get access to that technology. 

Morozov writes,
Kelly’s project, by contrast, seeks to deepen the moral void -— and to establish its normative character by claiming that it is propelled by the same forces as evolution. But can evolution really explain the plight of child laborers mining for cobalt—a key ingredient in batteries for mobile phones—in the Democratic Republic of Congo or Zambia? (According to a 2007 study by SwedWatch, a Swedish watchdog, there were some fifty thousand workers under the age of eighteen involved in this practice.) Is exploiting minors for cobalt mining something that technology wants, or is it something that certain businesses, here disguised under the innocent label of the “technium,” require? To claim that such processes follow the normal direction of evolution is to let the mining corporations off the hook far too easily.

In summary, technology needs people who can play with simple words, making simple things seem high concept, and convincing normally savvy business people to pay them millions.  Technology needs these gurus to take the eternal story of 'human exploiting humans' forward. Technology needs gurus who are not really Gurus.

Also read:
The price of our gadget culture: Foxconn Suicide Nets

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home