Technology isn’t always the Answer

As the semester has come to a close, we have read several pieces by Morozov, arguing against usage of the Internet in many ways. For example, he has repeatedly claimed that the Internet promotes a lazy generation of slacktivists and that the Internet has become an integral part of our lives (for both the good and the bad). Lastly, Morozov argues that the Internet cannot solve large-scale “wicked” social problems in ways that visionaries and politicians alike suggest. Instead, he suggests that the Internet can play a significant role in “fixing” social ills, however, it must be done through piece meal strategies, which are often smaller, focused and more successful than utopian plans.

Despite his acknowledgement that in order to facilitate social problems abroad one must used a more focused method, the government has taken a different approach… which may not necessarily be in the right direction. Policymakers such as the former Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, believe that the Internet could help promote freedom and democracy particularly in authoritarian societies. Ethan Zuckerman, pushes this idea forward by suggesting that providing access to the internet can help change people’s opinions of their government and thus ignite a revolution. He also argues that citizens would be able to organize and communicate better via social networking sites.  While I agree that the Internet is important for modernization, I do not think it is necessary nor the only tool needed to spark a revolution. For example, Gladwell (2011) argues, “People protested or brought down governments before Facebook was invented. They did it before the Internet came along” (p.2). What matters more than a tweet or a text message, is that people truly care about a cause enough to participate and fight for what they believe in.

Morozov may claim to be a “cyber-realist,” however; it seems that above all that he is a cyber- cynic. And he is making me one too. In a world more dependent on technology than ever, I cannot help but begin to see the different natures of the Internet. Morozov also suggests that people rarely have true control over the information that is posted to the Internet; photos, messages, posts all get lost in what he refers to as an “information black hole”(p.312). But really, where does all of our information go?

Does Internet access provide the ultimate tool for revolution?  Moreover, do you think that Internet Freedom should be a United States policy? Or have Morozov’s words made an impact on you, making you a “cyber cynic” and more aware of the “scarier” side of the Internet, such as the “information black holes” or the public-nature of social networking? 

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3 Responses to Technology isn’t always the Answer

  1. cjduvall says:

    After completing the readings and hearing the guest Skype lecture from Will Youmans today I have almost completely reformulated my opinion on the power of social media. Before listening to Will, I repeatedly claimed it was naive to discredit the power of social media by authors such as Andersen. However, the statistics today were very intriguing and I have definitely become more of a “cyber cynic”. I now disagree that the internet provides the ultimate tool for revolution in these countries as Will demonstrated that there is no real correlation between Internet prevalence/usage and successful revolutions. There are clearly many more factors at play that must be considered and perhaps traditional media is still the most fundamental tool for a successful revolution. I found it extremely interesting that social media was even used as a decoy at times in order to deceive the government and provide them with false information.

  2. mdhaas715 says:

    The readings that we have discussed so far in class have definitely swayed me towards becoming more of a “cyber cynic” and more aware of the scarier side of the Internet. I am now more aware about the difficulties and problems with the use of the Internet but I am still hesitant to completely disregard this tool. While governments have the ability to track, monitor, post false information, and, the most extreme, torture protestors for Internet passwords, I still think to some extent the Internet can be used in aiding a cause and reaching people. However, I now find that it is not the ultimate tool for revolution. With all of the Internet’s “scary” aspects and ways for it to be used in many different ways by many different people and governments, the Internet alone has not been the main factor since information posted this way can be shared and tracked by both people you want to get the message and people you do not want to. So while I think the Internet can be helpful in certain areas, it is not the sole driving force that makes revolutions successful as we saw from the data presented in class. There needs to be something more that is being used and pushed for that gets people together and builds a successful revolution. As mentioned in your post, Gladwell stated that people brought down governments before Facebook was created and I think that this is an important statement to focus on. While the Internet may make some ways of communicating easier, it comes with a lot of risks and cannot be used as the sole tool that is depended on for a successful revolution, there needs to be and as we saw there is stronger reliance on other tools.

  3. srachelb says:

    While Internet access is not the ultimate tool for revolution, it is certainly a very significant and effective one. That being said, the “cyber cynic” in me can’t help but notice the Internet’s potential for spurring violent and corrupt revolts that could be very detrimental to society. This potential, combined with the “information black holes” that exist within the Web, reveals that there is indeed a scarier side of the Internet, which should make users somewhat skeptical about how safe the Internet truly is. But would a U.S. Internet Freedom policy make us any safer? A U.S. Internet policy could be both beneficial and damaging for our society. I do, however, believe that it is necessary to restrict some content from being allowed on the Web in order to best preserve the safety of our nation.

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