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To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism Paperback – March 4, 2014

3.8 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

No one writing about technology seems to read more or faster than Morozov. Now twenty-eight and just starting his graduate work at Harvard, Morozov already grasps wide swaths of several scholarly fields and weaves them together astutely. To Save Everything, Click Here is a heavy read, and it covers a vast array of material, from how we think about privacy (poorly) to the dangers of quantifying everything we can. It serves as a sharp corrective to the complacencies of our latter-day techno-prophets. —Siva Vaidhyanathan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Richard Sennett, author of The Craftsman

“This hard-hitting book argues people have become enslaved to the machines they use to communicate.  It is incisive and beautifully written; whether you agree with Morozov or not, he will make you think hard."



Bruce Sterling, author of The Hacker Crackdown

"For the brilliant dissident Evgeny Morozov, computers are like broken beach-toys on the dark, historic tides of power politics.  His new book should be bound in sandpaper and used to abrade the works of other Internet pundits."



Nassim Nicholas Taleb, distinguished professor of risk engineering at NYU-Polytechnic and author of The Black Swan and Antifragile

"A clear voice of reason and critical thinking in the middle of today's neomania.”



David Rieff, author of A Bed For the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis

“Evgeny Morozov calls himself a ‘digital heretic,’ and he is right to do so.  Against the reigning consensus—that there is a digital fix for every social and political problem, and that thanks to the technologies that we group together for convenience’s sake as the Internet, the brave new world of the future will be one of endless, limitless improvement in every realm of life—Morozov offers a sophisticated, eloquent, and definitive rebuttal.  Technological ‘solutionism,’ he argues, is the romantic utopia of our age, and, like Communism or the free market fantasies of Reagan and Thatcher before it, it is one more god doomed to fail. In our ahistorical, gadget obsessed, and self-regarding age, Morozov’s skeptical, modest humanism will doubtless engender fierce resistance.  But  then, that is the tribute that self-delusion has always paid to reason.  Voltairean in its  lucidity, To Save Everything, Click Here is not just a brilliant book, it is a necessary one.”



Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia

“When it comes to anything ‘internet’ related, Evgeny Morozov is the writer who brings us  back to earth. Lubricated by snake oil, too much of what we read about the internet and the possibilities offered by modern technology is hypertext hyperbole.  In this riotous  read, Morozov continues his quest to restore empirical rationality in our own thinking  about our techno-utopian pipe-dreams.  We have become gullible to what Morozov calls solutionism, the idea that whatever complex situation we face, we can solve it simply by  finding the right algorithm, and thanks to technology we can find a solution.  We have  seen this before, with Condorcet and other thinkers of the Enlightenment, but then, as  now, too much reliance on mathematics when we are dealing with problems of people and  society leads inevitably to failure.  Today, we who live, work, and dream in cyberspace need  Morozov to keep our feet firmly planted on Terra Firma.”



Kirkus Reviews

“Can technology solve social problems? To an extent, perhaps, writes [Morozov]. But for every Utopian application of a computer, dystopia awaits: Technology may afford hitherto disenfranchised or at least undercounted people an equal voice, but inside the world of clicks, likes and read-throughs lurk dragons…. Healthy skepticism…and a useful corrective for those who believe that we’ll somehow engineer ourselves out of our current mess.”



John Gray, author of Straw Dogs


“A devastating exposé of cyber-utopianism by the world's most far-seeing Internet guru”

 

Brian Eno

“Evgeny Morozov is the most challenging - and best-informed - critic of the Techno-Utopianism surrounding the Internet. If you've ever had the niggling feeling, as you spoon down your Google, that there's no such thing as a


“Mozorov’s argument remains cogent and necessary, especially considering the ubiquitous Internet-centrism of most commentary. Dreams of technocratic utopia falter when specifics are examined, and a more grounded and thoughtful re-evaluation is needed to achieve the authentic liberation of the self-promised, but thus far compromised, by naïve visions of “the Internet.” Mozorov proves that.”—STC Technical Communication journal
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Trade Paper Edition edition (March 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610393708
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610393706
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Wow, this one will surely prove controversial. Morozov is like Mike Tyson of Internet punditry: from the very first pages of "To Save Everything...", he goes straight for the jugular, accusing a coterie of fellow Internet intellectuals for treating what he calls "the Internet" - he uses it in square quotes throughout the book - as a fixed entity, with its own logic and inspirit. What he wants instead is a more dynamic, constructivist account that would recognize the sheer diversity of logics that "the Internet" represents. This is Morozov's critique of Internet-centrism.

There's also a second, parallel critique that he advances in the book: that of solutionism - which he defines as the tendency to define problems as problems based solely on the fact that we have nice and quick technological solutions for solving them. The book then traces how these two intellectual pathologies - solutionism and Internet-centrism - interact in the context of recent efforts to fix politics, promote transparency, track and gamify everything, make crime impossible through situational crime prevention and predictive policing, and so forth.

It's not an easy book to read, not least because Morozov draws on what must be hundreds of thinkers to make his point. (And, wow, his range is impressive: I'm yet to read a book that references both Paul Ricoeur and Jeff Jarvis!) While it's a challenging read, it proves very rewarding, especially as the book progresses. The sections on design are to kill for.

There's a bit of "everyone but me is wrong" feel to this book but it's hardly a good reason to ignore it - what if Morozov is, indeed, right that everyone is wrong? Whatever one makes of him and his style, this book is so far the most significant challenge to the mindset of Silicon Valley and its apologists in the tech media and the lecture circuit (Morozov helpfully namechecks most of them in the book!)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Snarky? Check. Contrarian? Check. Demanding? Check. That's enough checks for me: most books don't go that far. So, to be blunt: whatever its flaws, this book deserves to be widely read and argued about. Is it perfect? Hell no. Morozov doesn't know when to stop and he is occasionally too full of himself to be enjoyable; at times, this book reads like "Imagine That: Some People Are Wrong on the Internet About the Internet." (Morozov, of course, would say that this last sentence is pure nonsense, for "the Internet" doesn't exist. Okay, Professor!) He's lucky his relatives are no Internet theorists - or he would destroy them as well (that's a Pavlik Morozov joke right there!)

The book somehow manages to stay extremely funny (Morozov has a great eye for the ridiculous and the surreal; his epigrams are hilarious - especially the Franny Armstrong quote comparing soccer and the Internet) and also very serious (too serious at times; there's way too much theory in it - it could easily lose some Dewey and Giddens, not to mention of that other enfant terrible, Bruno Latour).

There's a certain schizophrenic flavor to this text: after all, here's an Internet pundit writing a biting manifesto against Internet punditry. Morozov's critique is both of substance that underpins much Internet thinking - it overlooks deeply political and moral questions and only focuses on efficiency and innovation - and of its style - it presents the Internet as a coherent and revolutionary force, a theoretical move that we have taken for granted for far too long.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the most profound books I have ever read. For once, someone is brave enough to stand up to the flowery technologists and thrust their "out of this world" back in to orbit. As someone who respects true computer science and taught themselevs C++ , I am worried to see such corrupt people tear at the field. This book is a must for everybody ranging from the solutionists to the Luddite.
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The computer revolution has affected humanity more forcefully than anything since the industrial revolution. Among the prominent effects of such profound shifts is an appalling anesthetization of thinking capacity. Roughly, the old ways don't work any more, and the new aren't developed enough to work properly. The upshot is a helpless stasis, in which two sides sputter meaninglessly at each other. Intellectual adherents of the traditions into which they were born--virtually everyone with a brain--have no choice but to react to the novelties with backward looking resistance. But champions of the new rarely know what they're talking about, having both dismissed everything ever written previously, but also failing to notice that they have no concepts to celebrate the new except advertising slogans and vapid tosh. They, too, though they serve up bring jargon-rich enthusiasm, have no real understanding of what is happening.

Enter Evgeny Morozov. This book is a scathing attack on advocates of "the Internet," which Morozov invariably and rightly puts in scare quotes, because its champions celebrate a sinister chimera. It is a careful and thoughtful analysis of how we do and can think, of how can formulate our problems in order to solve them. The connection of these two aims is the heart of the book. Morozov makes a formidable and depressing case for a crazed, cheerleaderly numbness in our time, in which enthusiasm for technological means makes us virtually incapable of understanding their relation to real and possible ends. At the least, he annihilates the case for cyber utopias and technological optimism, through convincing demonstrations that they are poorly argued and factually groundless.
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