Saturday, July 27, 2013

To save everything, click here : the folly of technological solutionism

To save everything, click here : the folly of technological solutionism

The book somewhat reads like a PhD dissertation without a clear subject. It piles on a lot of blog literature (not much book or research literature), a lot of comments, or rather rants (not very oral, well written, yet rant or rumbles).

The definition of solutionism captures some ongoing trends, but nowhere near representative. To a large degree, the book defines the term in such a way to make its criticism stronger.

The book does not object to the fact the 'Internet' has a lot of promises. A lot of initiatives and actions used as examples of solutionism do appear premature, lack of premeditation, analytics, analysis or just proper thinking. Some do appear stupid. As we all know, as a new wave or paradigm shows, somebody has to show up to try a lot of things. And we, human being, are known for trial and error (and trial and stupid as well). I don't see any reason to laugh or criticize them. If you, for whatever reasons, are not jumping in to join the swim (as I do), at least you should respect those who try. I mean respecting intellectually and wishing them good luck. If you do decide on the sideline and judge, you better have some better ideas.

I am not a huge believer in things like crowd-sourcing. If you see a beggar standing by the road side asking for small changes, isn't he not crowd-sourcing? I don't see any point jumping into a lot of so-called collaborations. Many are just 'asking for free bee' in disguise. When Linux first got started and caught on, many have spent day and night contributing to it. Then later several closed the sources and talked the bulk of the built up knowledge and started companies to offer commercial versions. How many of those who contributed a lot and big got any meaningful, say, the company stocks, or at least any form of 'thank you'? This is currently the case with Hadoop  and analytics based on Mahout, or even Java. With this said, these evolutions have little to do with the solutionism defined by the book.

I like Carr's Shallows better overall. It is at least much shorter. This solutionism book requires a lot of energy to organize and write. I certainly admire that. The solutionism defined as the target of criticism for the book lacks analytical underpinning and does not reach very deeper. Many comments read like complaints, many of which are quite eloquent and gracefully composed.

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