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To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism

Book Description

In the very near future, “smart” technologies and “big data” will allow us to make large-scale and sophisticated interventions in politics, culture, and everyday life. Technology will allow us to solve problems in highly original ways and create new incentives to get more people to do the right thing. But how will such “solutionism” affect our society, once deeply political, moral, and irresolvable dilemmas are recast as uncontroversial and easily manageable matters of technological efficiency? What if some such problems are simply vices in disguise? What if some friction in communication is productive and some hypocrisy in politics necessary? The temptation of the digital age is to fix everything—from crime to corruption to pollution to obesity—by digitally quantifying, tracking, or gamifying behavior. But when we change the motivations for our moral, ethical, and civic behavior we may also change the very nature of that behavior. Technology, Evgeny Morozov proposes, can be a force for improvement—but only if we keep solutionism in check and learn to appreciate the imperfections of liberal democracy. Some of those imperfections are not accidental but by design. Arguing that we badly need a new, post-Internet way to debate the moral consequences of digital technologies, To Save Everything, Click Here warns against a world of seamless efficiency, where everyone is forced to wear Silicon Valley’s digital straitjacket.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page
  2. Dedication
  3. Introduction
  4. CHAPTER ONE - Solutionism and Its Discontents
    1. The Will to Improve (Just About Everything!)
    2. Kooks and Cooks
    3. Pasteur and Zynga
  5. CHAPTER TWO - The Nonsense of “the Internet”—and How to Stop It
    1. Against the Internet Grain
    2. The Faux Didacticism of “the Internet”
    3. If Internet Theorists Were Bouncers
    4. Of Epochs and Epochalisms
    5. With Models Like This . . .
    6. Hype and Consequences
    7. Gutenberg in the Kingdom of Geekistan
    8. From Bad Book History to Bad Blog History
    9. Recycle the Cycle
  6. CHAPTER THREE - So Open It Hurts
    1. Bad for the Databases, Good for Democracy?
    2. Escaping the Double Click
    3. From Sunburn to Solar Power
    4. When Transparency Hurts
    5. The Perils of Information Reductionism
    6. Openness and Its Messiahs
    7. Who Put “Open” in “Open Government”?
  7. CHAPTER FOUR - How to Break Politics by Fixing It
    1. Future Perfect—Democracy Isn’t
    2. Go to the iTunes of Politics to Download Your Welfare
    3. Learning to Love the Imperfections
    4. In Truth We Trust?
    5. Networks, Leaders, Hierarchies
    6. Technoescapists versus Technorationalists
    7. Technocrats and Their Limits
  8. CHAPTER FIVE - The Perils of Algorithmic Gatekeeping
    1. Drowning in the Algorithmic Sea
    2. The Meme Industry Will Make You Famous
    3. Surviving Big Data
    4. “Down with the Gatekeepers!” . . . Say the Gatekeepers
    5. The Rise of Uncritical Critics
  9. CHAPTER SIX - Less Crime, More Punishment
    1. You’ve Been Arrested—by Facebook
    2. Why You Should Ride the Metro in Berlin
    3. Autotopia in Jeopardy
    4. Wither Moral Citizenship?
    5. The Perils of Preemption
    6. Bouncers Versus Vibes
    7. Against Technological Defeatism
    8. Of Norms and Noises
  10. CHAPTER SEVEN - Galton’s iPhone
    1. Seeing Like a Self
    2. The Ryanairation of Privacy
    3. The Great Unraveling
    4. Between Nietzsche and Condorcet
    5. From Nutritionism to Educationism
    6. The Imperialism of Numbers
    7. When Facts Are Made of Water
    8. Hunches and Fractured Pelvises
  11. CHAPTER EIGHT - The Superhuman Condition
    1. Madeleine: There’s an App for That!
    2. The Nutritional Aspects of Jerry Springer
    3. Phantoms and Backpacks
    4. False and Imaginary Cosmopolitanisms
    5. Gamify or Die
    6. B. F. Skinner Among the Unfinished Animals
    7. Monkeys, Sex, and Predictable Duress
    8. Don’t Fold It at Home
    9. Mad Men, Faded Denims, and Real Phonies
  12. CHAPTER NINE - Smart Gadgets, Dumb Humans
    1. Victorian Trains and Montana Huts
    2. Radios, Caterpillars, and Lamps
    3. The Natural Fuse and Its Adversaries
    4. Can Content Farms Be Organic?
    5. The Perils of Willpower
    6. On Frictionless Traps
    7. Technologies and Truths
  13. Postscript
  14. Notes
  15. Acknowledgments
  16. Index
  17. Copyright Page