Rob Clowes is currently working on the completion of his book: Being Human after Facebook
We can argue with the current shape of technology and propose how it might be better. But there is seldom much engagement in this direction. More common is dour warnings about our impotence in the face of new technology; that it is the agent and we the passive recipient.
Given the social designation given to the new web, it at first seems paradoxical to claim that Web 2.0 could be undermining something about our social nature, yet this is precisely what is being claimed by many critics. So is this really the case? Sherry Turkle takes up exactly this question in Alone Together.
It is not just the negative associations with a neo-colonialism to which we react but a dominant cultural mood which is nervous of asserting any strong values at all, or that one work of art, or thought or activity has intrinsically more value than any other. Values we are always told are relative – although it is seldom explained relative to what. It is this cultural climate that is really inimical to the full-blooded and positive account of civilisation Armstrong seeks to articulate.
The dirty secret of free software and services is that they imply free – read unpaid – labour. While this may be difficult for certain business models to accommodate, such as the print media and the music industry, which now have to compete with free alternatives, it is far from clear that it is difficult per se for capitalism as a social system.