21 August 2010

Clay Shirky’s digital populism

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Cognitive Surplus
In this review of the book Over the holidays, I read Clay Shirky’s new book Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age and found it quite wanting.

In an excellent review of the book, researcher and author Evgeny Morozov explains what is wrong with it and I support his analysis entirely.

“Shirky’s digital populism not only blinds him, McLuhan-style, to inconvenient facts, it blinds him to the immense complexities and competing values inherent in democratic societies. He says he is writing about Western democracies, but they are unrecognizable in his book, for they appear to have been sterilized completely of social conflict.

Shirky presents a world without nationalism, corruption, religion, extremism, terrorism. It is a world without any elections, and thus no need to worry about informed voters. Class, gender, and race make a few appearances, but not as venues of systemic oppression. They are just more testimony to the mainstream media’s elitism.”

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