digital Maoism

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pages: 313 words: 84,312

We-Think: Mass Innovation, Not Mass Production by Charles Leadbeater

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1960s counterculture, Andrew Keen, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, c2.com, call centre, citizen journalism, clean water, cloud computing, complexity theory, congestion charging, death of newspapers, Debian, digital Maoism, double helix, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, frictionless, frictionless market, future of work, game design, Google Earth, Google X / Alphabet X, Hacker Ethic, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jean Tirole, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lone genius, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microcredit, new economy, Nicholas Carr, online collectivism, planetary scale, post scarcity, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social web, software patent, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Whole Earth Catalog, Zipcar

Available from http:// www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12015774/site/newsweek 16 Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture (Chicago, IL/London: University of Chicago Press, 2006) 17 Patrice Flichy, The Internet Imaginaire (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007) 18 Charles Leadbeater, ‘The DIY State’, Prospect 130, January 2007 19 Fred Turner, op. cit. 20 John Markoff, What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry (Penguin, 2006) 21 Patrice Flichy, The Internet Imaginaire (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007) 22 Jonathan Lethem, ‘The Ecstasy of Influence’, Harper’s Magazine, February 2007 23 Garrett Hardin, ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’, Science 162 (1968), pp. 1243–48 24 Elenor Ostrom, Governing the Commons (Cambridge University Press, 1990) 25 Lawrence Lessig, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1999) and Free Culture (New York, NY: Penguin Press, 2004) 26 Melvyn Bragg, The Routes of English (BBC Factual and Learning, 2000); Melvyn Bragg, The Adventure of English (Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 2003) 27 Jonathan Lethem, ‘The Ecstasy of Influence’, Harper’s Magazine, February 2007 28 Cory Doctorow et al., ‘On “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism” By Jaron Lanier’, Edge (2006). http://www.edge.org/discourse/digital_ maoism.html 29 Paul A. David, ‘From Keeping “Nature’s Secrets” to the Institutionalization of “Open Science”‘, in Rishab Aiyer Ghosh (Ed.), Code (Cambridge, MA/London: MIT Press, 2005) 30 Alessandro Nuvolari, ‘Open Source Software Development: Some Historical Perspectives’, Eindhoven Centre for Innovation Studies Working Paper 03.01 (2003); Koen Frenken and Alessandro Nuvolari, ‘The Early Development of the Steam Engine: An Evolutionary Interpretation Using Complexity Theory’, Eindhoven Centre for Innovation Studies Working Paper 03.15 (2003) Chapter 3 1 Andrew Brown, In the Beginning Was the Worm (Pocket Books, 2003) 2 Eric S.

., 80 Years of Thinking at the Phillips Natuurkundig Laboratorium 1914–1994 (Amsterdam: Pallas, 2005) DiBona, Chris, Danese Cooper and Mark Stone (Eds), Open Sources 2.0 (O’Reilly, 2006) DiBona, Chris, Sam Ockman and Mark Stone (Eds), Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution (O’Reilly, 1999) Di Maggio, Paul (Ed.), The Twenty-first-Century Firm (Princeton University Press, 2001) Doctorow, Cory, et al. ‘On “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism” By Jaron Lanier’, Edge, (2006). See http://www.edge.org/discourse/digital_ maoism.html Dodgson, Mark, David Gann and Ammon Salter, Think, Play, Do: Technology, Innovation and Organization (Oxford University Press, 2005) Dodson, Sean, ‘Show and Tell Online’, Guardian, 3 February 2006 Dravis, Paul, Open Source Software: Perspectives for Development (Washington, DC: InfoDev, 2003) Ducheneaut, Nicolas, Nicholas Yee, Eric Nickell and Robert J.

There is also an element of aristocracy: people who have been involved in the community longer, who have acquired a reputation have a higher standing in the community. And then there is monarchy – that’s me – but I try to get involved as little as possible. The most contentious question about Wikipedia is the one that really matters: how good an encyclopaedia is it? Sanger argues that its quality is questionable because its experts do not vet amateur contributions. In an influential online essay cultural critic Jaron Lanier branded it a form of digital Maoism on the grounds that it promotes an anonymous collective account of knowledge that on any subject favours the often inaccurate lowest common denominator. Others allege that Wikipedia licenses gossip and falsehoods to masquerade as truth, because contributions are often not checked fully. The answer is that we do not yet know how good Wikipedia is or will become. Much will depend on how the community organises itself and that may well evolve, giving a larger role to the core to ensure quality and limit vandalism.


pages: 351 words: 100,791

The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction by Matthew B. Crawford

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airport security, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, collateralized debt obligation, David Brooks, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, digital Maoism, Google Glasses, hive mind, index card, informal economy, Jaron Lanier, large denomination, new economy, new new economy, online collectivism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Richard Thaler, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, the built environment, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Walter Mischel, winner-take-all economy

If they read this book instead of Shakespeare, they won’t feel oppressed by the impoverished language they are expected to use at work. And if they can identify with the CEO, they will be less likely to feel themselves in an antagonistic relation to those who manage the appropriation of their surplus labor value on behalf of Chinese shareholders. 7. Jaron Lanier, “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism,” Edge, May 29, 2006, available at http://edge.org/conversation/digital-maoism-the-hazards-of-the-new-online-collectivism. 13. THE ORGAN MAKERS’ SHOP 1. I imagine the appeal of this image may have something to do with the fact that it allows the venture capitalists who hang around Silicon Valley to view themselves in a certain cultural role, as midwives to the new. This is like being a patron of the avant-garde: quite apart from any profit that may come, one has the sense of being in touch with the most important experiments under way, the most radical possibilities.

To me that sounds more like defeat. In countless little ways, any single one of which seems trivial, this liberal arts college is unthinkingly repeating bits of Silicon Valley ideology that would seem to undermine the rationale for studying the liberal arts. The university has become “the brilliant ally of its own gravediggers,” to borrow a phrase from Milan Kundera.6 Jaron Lanier criticizes what he calls “digital Maoism,” a “new online collectivism” that shows up, for example, in the way Wikipedia is regarded and used, and is the guiding spirit of firms such as Google as well. The analogy with Maoism is quite apt and precise. The ideologists of the Web have always been antielitists, eager to brush the “gatekeepers” of knowledge into the dustbin of history. Let a thousand flowers bloom. The problem, of course, is that it’s hard for these leaders of the people to make money off scattered flowers.

consciousness consent conservatives consumer credit contingencies contract, authority of conversations, retrospective understanding enhanced by cooking, see short-order cooks cooperation Corporate Gaming Act courts, failing to appear in craft craps creative destruction creativity Critique of Judgment (Kant) cross-modal binding cultural authority cultural jigs Cultural Revolution culture culture of performance Cussins, Adrian cybernetics Davis, Miles death instinct pleasure principle and the will and debt Declaration of Independence Declaration of the Rights of Man Demain, Erik Demain, Martin democracy without flattening social effects of in statistical constructs Democracy in America (Tocqueville) Denmark Dennett, Daniel depression deregulation Descartes, René American individualism and epistemology of on primary vs. secondary qualities design: attention and of automobiles computer-aided in glassmaking interior in machine gambling in organ making determinism de Zengotita, Thomas Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Diderot, Denis differentiation from others as basis of communal feeling as basis of individuality and identity politics as incubator of genuine attachments as inherently hierarchal vs. viewing oneself as representative “digital Maoism” dissidents distraction in cultural crisis of attention as neuroscience finding political economy and summary view of diversity divorce dogs, Frisbees as caught by Dreyfus, Hubert driving Droid Dumbaugh, Eric Dunkin’ Donuts Ebbesen, E. B. Ebony Ecological Approach to Visual Perception, The (Gibson) ecological control ecological niche ecological psychology ecologies of attention design and economics education autonomy and Latin derivation of word liberal, as apprenticeship mechanization of reclaiming the real in Ehrenberg, Alain Eilan, Naomi electropneumatic action embodied agency embodied cognition and tactical flight suit Embodied Cognition (Shapiro) embodied perception embodied representations embodiment Emerson, Ralph Waldo empiricism enactivism Encyclopédie (Diderot) “enhanced reality” windshield Enlightenment attending in education and epistemology in Kant’s definition of mind in reality as viewed in self in environment advanced cognition and arrangement of self and Epicureanism epistemic individualism epistemology equipmental wholes Erben, Henry erotics of attention ESPN Magazine Essay Concerning Human Understanding, An (Locke) ethics ethics of attention evolution evolutionary psychology executive attention jigging and experience, perception and experiential knowledge, objective knowledge vs.

Common Knowledge?: An Ethnography of Wikipedia by Dariusz Jemielniak

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Andrew Keen, barriers to entry, citation needed, collaborative consumption, collaborative editing, conceptual framework, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, Debian, deskilling, digital Maoism, en.wikipedia.org, Filter Bubble, Google Glasses, Hacker Ethic, hive mind, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, Julian Assange, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Menlo Park, moral hazard, online collectivism, pirate software, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social software, Stewart Brand, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, WikiLeaks, wikimedia commons

Are open-collaboration communities the avant-garde of a movement liberating society from a neoliberal regime or the prelude to totalitarian and ideological control? Additionally, I discuss the future of the Wikimedia community. Hive Minds, Schmucks, Losers, and Other Misconceptions About Wikipedia Some say that the contemporary Internet in general, and Wikipedia in particular, promotes amateurs and everyday Joes—that Wikipedia’s “hive mind mentality” and “digital Maoism” suppress human intelligence and dilute individual judgments and tastes (Lanier, 2006). Andrew Keen, the author of the ominously titled The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture (2007), even states in an interview that no normal person would give away labor for free and anonymously and that “only schmucks would do that. Or losers” (quoted in Parvaz, 2011). As one of those schmucks or losers, and possibly both, I am certainly biased, but I must point out that this argument is rooted in the traditional point of view of attributing professionalism to formal position rather than to skill and evaluation of the actual outcome (which, as already mentioned, in the case of Wikipedia matches the commercial competi- T h e K n o w l e d g e R e v o l u t i o n a t t h e G a t e s    1 8 3 tion standards).

Qualitative Research, 11(6), 716–735. Benevolent dictator. (2013, April 27). Wikimedia. Retrieved August 23, 2013, from http:// meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Benevolent_dictator Benkler, Y. (2002). Coase’s penguin, or, Linux and “the nature of the firm.” Yale Law Journal, 112(3), 369–446. Benkler, Y. (2006a). Extracting signal from noisy spin. The Edge. Retrieved from http:// www.edge.org/discourse/digital_maoism.html Benkler, Y. (2006b). The wealth of networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Benkler, Y. (2011). The penguin and the leviathan: How cooperation triumphs over selfinterest. New York: Crown Business. Benkler, Y., & Nissenbaum, H. (2006). Commons-based peer production and virtue. Journal of Political Philosophy, 14(4), 394–419. Berger, P.

New York: ACM. Laniado, D., Tasso, R., Volkovich, Y., & Kaltenbrunner, A. (2011). When the Wikipedians talk: Network and tree structure of Wikipedia discussion pages. In Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (pp. 177–184). Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press. Retrieved from http://www.aaai.org/ocs/index.php/ICWSM/ ICWSM11/paper/viewFile/2764/3301 Lanier, J. (2006, May 29). Digital Maoism: The hazards of the new online collectivism. The Edge. Retrieved from http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/lanier06/lanier06 _index.html Latour, B. (1986). The powers of association. In J. Law (Ed.), Power, action and belief: A new sociology of knowledge? London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Latour, B., & Woolgar, S. (1979). Laboratory life: The social construction of scientific facts. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. 2 6 2    R e f e r e n c e s Lattemann, C., & Stieglitz, S. (2005).


pages: 390 words: 96,624

Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom by Rebecca MacKinnon

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, business intelligence, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, Deng Xiaoping, digital Maoism, don't be evil, Filter Bubble, Firefox, future of journalism, illegal immigration, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, Mikhail Gorbachev, national security letter, online collectivism, pre–internet, race to the bottom, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Crocker, Steven Levy, WikiLeaks

Also see his most recent book, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age (New York: OR Books, 2010). 233 “The invention of a tool doesn’t create change”: Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (New York: Penguin Press, 2008), 105. 233 “cute-cat theory of digital activism”: Ethan Zuckerman, “The Cute Cat Theory Talk at ETech,” My Heart’s in Accra blog, March 8, 2008, www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2008/03/08/the-cute-cat-theory-talk-at-etech. 234 in 2007 WITNESS launched its own Video Hub: http://hub.witness.org; Yvette Alberdingk Thijm, “Update on the Hub and WITNESS’ New Online Strategy,” August 18, 2010, http://blog.witness.org/2010/08/update-on-the-hub-and-witness-new-online-strategy; Ethan Zuckerman, “Public Spaces, Private Infrastructure—Open Video Conference,” My Heart’s in Accra blog, October 1, 2010, www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2010/10/01/public-spaces-private-infrastructure-open-video-conference. 234 “Protecting Yourself, Your Subjects and Your Human Rights Videos on YouTube”: http://youtube-global.blogspot.com/2010/06/protecting-yourself-your-subjects-and.html. 234 2010 Global Voices Citizen Media Summit: Sami Ben Gharbia, “GV Summit 2010 Videos: A Discussion of Content Moderation,” Global Voices Advocacy, May 7, 2010, http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2010/05/07/gv-summit-2010-videos-a-discussion-of-content-moderation; and Rebecca MacKinnon, “Human Rights Implications of Content Moderation and Account Suspension by Companies,” RConversation blog, May 14, 2010, http://rconversation.blogs.com/rconversation/2010/05/human-rights-implications.html; 235 “Digital Maoism”: Jaron Lanier, “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism,” Edge: The Third Culture, May 30, 2006, www.edge.org/3rd_culture/lanier06/lanier06_index.html. Also see Jaron Lanier, You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto (New York: Random House, 2010). 238 Students for Free Culture: http://freeculture.org. 238 In 2009 Sweden’s Pirate Party won two seats in the European Parliament: Tom Sullivan, “Sweden’s Pirate Party Sets Sail for Europe,” The Christian Science Monitor, June 8, 2009, www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2009/0608/p06s08-woeu.html (accessed August 15, 2011). 238 green parties have taken up Internet freedom: German Green Party politician Malte Spitz, for example, has taken up the fight against surveillance and censorship as a signature issue.

Earlier in the twentieth century, revolutionary attempts to create capitalism-free societies in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, and elsewhere were rather disastrous when it came to human rights, let alone economic prosperity. Utopian ideologies such as Marxism-Leninism and Maoism produced demagoguery, totalitarianism, and genocide. In a controversial 2006 essay about what he calls “Digital Maoism,” and later in his 2010 book, You Are Not a Gadget, technologist Jaron Lanier warned of a “new online collectivism,” the digital variant of a concept that “has had dreadful consequences when thrust upon us from the extreme Right or the extreme Left in various historical periods.” Though there is much idealism and enthusiasm around the idea of the Internet being a place where the evils, hypocrisies, and general messiness of human economics, politics, and social relations can somehow be transcended, there is little evidence that human nature is any more virtuous or selfless in cyberspace than it is in the physical world.


pages: 298 words: 81,200

Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson

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Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, cleantech, complexity theory, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Ernest Rutherford, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, greed is good, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invention of air conditioning, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, online collectivism, packet switching, PageRank, patent troll, pattern recognition, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, six sigma, Solar eclipse in 1919, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, urban planning

The history of double-entry accounting is told in John Richard Edwards’s History of Financial Accounting. For more on the power of collective decision-making, see James Surowiecki’s Wisdom of Crowds, Howard Rheingold’s Smart Mobs, Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody, and Kevin Kelly’s Out of Control. Jaron Lanier’s critique of the “hive mind” appears in his book You Are Not a Gadget, and in shorter form in the essay “Digital Maoism.” For more on Kevin Dunbar’s research, see “What Scientific Thinking Reveals About the Nature of Cognition.” Malcolm Gladwell’s take on the Jane Jacobsian future of workspace design appeared in the New Yorker in the essay “Designs for Working.” Stewart Brand devotes a chapter of How Buildings Learn to the “low road” approach of Building 20. MIT also maintains a website that includes reminiscences about the building at http://libraries.mit.edu/archives/mithistory/building20/quotes.html.

Kostof, Spiro. The City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History. Boston: Little, Brown, 1991. Kuhn, Thomas S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970. Langton, Christopher G., et al. “Life at the Edge of Chaos.” Artificial Life II 10 (1992): 41-91. Lanier, Jaron. You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto. Waterville, Maine: Thorndike Press, 2010. ———. “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism.” The Edge 183 (May 30, 2006). Lehrer, Jonah. How We Decide. Boston: Mariner Books, 2010. ———. “Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up.” Wired (December 21, 2009). http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/fail_accept_defeat/all/1. Lessig, Lawrence. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. New York: Penguin Press, 2008. ———.


pages: 224 words: 64,156

You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier

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1960s counterculture, accounting loophole / creative accounting, additive manufacturing, Albert Einstein, call centre, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, digital Maoism, Douglas Hofstadter, Extropian, follow your passion, hive mind, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John Conway, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Long Term Capital Management, Network effects, new economy, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, social graph, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, The Wisdom of Crowds, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog

The open culture movement has, weirdly, promoted a revival of this sensibility. Classical Maoism didn’t really reject hierarchy; it only suppressed any hierarchy that didn’t happen to be the power structure of the ruling Communist Party. In China today, that hierarchy has been blended with others, including celebrity, academic achievement, and personal wealth and status, and China is certainly stronger because of that change. In the same way, digital Maoism doesn’t reject all hierarchy. Instead, it overwhelmingly rewards the one preferred hierarchy of digital metaness, in which a mashup is more important than the sources who were mashed. A blog of blogs is more exalted than a mere blog. If you have seized a very high niche in the aggregation of human expression—in the way that Google has with search, for instance—then you can become superpowerful.

The hierarchy of metaness is the natural hierarchy for cloud gadgets in the same way that Maslow’s idea describes a natural hierarchy of human aspirations. To be fair, open culture is distinct from Maoism in another way. Maoism is usually associated with authoritarian control of the communication of ideas. Open culture is not, although the web 2.0 designs, like wikis, tend to promote the false idea that there is only one universal truth in some arenas where that isn’t so. But in terms of economics, digital Maoism is becoming a more apt term with each passing year. In the physical world, libertarianism and Maoism are about as different as economic philosophies could be, but in the world of bits, as understood by the ideology of cybernetic totalism, they blur, and are becoming harder and harder to distinguish from each other. Morality Needs Technology If It’s to Do Any Good Prior to industrialization, every civilization relied on large classes of people who were slaves or near-slaves.


pages: 219 words: 63,495

50 Future Ideas You Really Need to Know by Richard Watson

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23andMe, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, BRICs, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, digital Maoism, Elon Musk, energy security, failed state, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, germ theory of disease, happiness index / gross national happiness, hive mind, hydrogen economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, life extension, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peak oil, personalized medicine, phenotype, precision agriculture, profit maximization, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Florida, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, semantic web, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, smart transportation, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, supervolcano, telepresence, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Turing test, urban decay, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, women in the workforce, working-age population, young professional

Now media is increasingly created and consumed by individuals and its fragmentary and atomized nature means that you can find whatever interests you personally and have it delivered on a device of your choosing at any time, any place, anywhere. Web 2.0 builds upon this impulse. It’s YOUtube and MYspace and everyone is famous for 15 minutes and to 15 people. At its worst, this is postmodernism and subjectivism gone mad. It’s a world where idiocy, shallowness and superficiality reign supreme, because everyone’s life, skill or opinion is as good as everyone else’s. Digital Maoism? Jaron Lanier, sometimes referred to as the creator of the term “virtual reality,” believes that crowd intelligence is something of a fallacy analogous with the belief of hyperlibertarians that the free market is all-wise and ultimately benefits all. To quote Lanier: “The beauty of the Internet is that it connects people. The value is in the other people. If we start to believe that the Internet itself is an entity that has something to say, we’re devaluing those people and making ourselves into idiots.”

Future Files: A Brief History of the Next 50 Years by Richard Watson

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Albert Einstein, bank run, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Black Swan, call centre, carbon footprint, cashless society, citizen journalism, computer age, computer vision, congestion charging, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, deglobalization, digital Maoism, disintermediation, epigenetics, failed state, financial innovation, Firefox, food miles, future of work, global supply chain, global village, hive mind, industrial robot, invention of the telegraph, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, linked data, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, Northern Rock, peak oil, pensions crisis, precision agriculture, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, RFID, Richard Florida, self-driving car, speech recognition, telepresence, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Turing test, Victor Gruen, white flight, women in the workforce, Zipcar

The wider use of the internet to bring people together could also be beneficial in the future because questions like “Should we use technology like space mirrors to solve global warming?” could be addressed to most of the planet, thus taking key debates far outside the scientific community. “Truth” is now whatever Wikipedia says it is. Moreover, truth is whatever Wikipedia says it is right now (which, by implication, may change tomorrow). As a counterpoint Jaron Lanier, who coined the term “virtual reality”, has predicted that collective intelligence — or digital Maoism — will have the same deadening and anti-creative effect as political collectivism. In other words, the wisdom of “idiots” will remove any opinion that does not fit with its own; if the online majority decides that 1+1=3, that will be the “truth”. Either way, it’s important that we recognize what computers can do already (more than most people realize) and then think about how this may eventually change — and change us.


pages: 283 words: 85,824

The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age by Astra Taylor

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Andrew Keen, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, Brewster Kahle, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, digital Maoism, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, future of journalism, George Gilder, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Naomi Klein, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, New Journalism, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, oil rush, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, pre–internet, profit motive, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, Richard Stallman, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, slashdot, Slavoj Žižek, Snapchat, social graph, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, trade route, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, Works Progress Administration, young professional

“The professional is being replaced by the amateur, the lexicographer by the layperson, the Harvard professor by the unschooled populace,” according to Andrew Keen, obstinately oblivious to the failings of professionally produced mass culture he defends. The Internet is decried as a province of know-nothing narcissists motivated by a juvenile desire for fame and fortune, a virtual backwater of vulgarity and phoniness. Jaron Lanier, the technologist turned skeptic, has taken aim at what he calls “digital Maoism” and the ascendance of the “hive mind.” Social media, as Lanier sees it, demean rather than elevate us, emphasizing the machine over the human, the crowd over the individual, the partial over the integral. The problem is not just that Web 2.0 erodes professionalism but, more fundamentally, that it threatens originality and autonomy. Outrage has taken hold on both sides. But the lines in the sand are not as neatly drawn as the two camps maintain.


pages: 510 words: 120,048

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier

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3D printing, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, augmented reality, automated trading system, barriers to entry, bitcoin, book scanning, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Graeber, delayed gratification, digital Maoism, en.wikipedia.org, facts on the ground, Filter Bubble, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, packet switching, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, pre–internet, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks

This email is completely typical of what shows up every morning: I’m a postdoc at [ . . .] working on a paper about collaborative creativity and we wanted to see if you can point us to some relevant literature. To be more specific, we are finding empirical evidence [ . . .] that collaborative works are more positively received than single-authored works. We are studying this in the context of [ . . .] an online community where kids can create their animations, video games, and interactive art. We read your article on Edge.org on Digital Maoism and we were wondering if you know of anyone else who might be arguing that individual works are of higher quality than collective works. This came from one of the top computer science labs in the world. Unfortunately, I can become impatient when I attempt to answer questions like this. No one in the tech world practices what we preach about these ideas. We treat the top entrepreneurs as irreplaceable heroes.