- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: PublicAffairs; 45555th edition (March 5, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1610391381
- ISBN-13: 978-1610391382
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 49 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #691,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism Hardcover – March 5, 2013
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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
Evgeny Morozov calls himself a digital heretic,' and he is right to do so. Against the reigning consensusthat 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 lifeMorozov 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
[Morozov] is a truly great critic . To Save Everything, Click Here is the most wide-ranging and generative critique of digital technology I've ever read.”
Provocative.... Brings wit to complex ideas.”
The New York Times
The book crackles with intellectual energy and is encyclopedic in scope. Morozov's overall perspective is vital and important [his] formidable intellect makes this a noteworthy book.”
Los Angeles Review of Books
To Save Everything, Click Here effectively dismantles the ideological status quo. Morozov's critique skillfully exposes the solutionist conception of the future as radically inhumane in spite of its claims to the contrary.”
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
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.”
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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!)
Solutionism is the belief that every problem that humankind faces can be solved by the use of algorithms, clever sensors, big data and gamification techniques, while Internet centrism it’s the idea that we are living unique revolutionary times in which time-worn rules do not apply and that “the Internet” is a kind of mythical entity that has predefined rules that are pre-ordained and cannot be tinkered with.
Morozov's formidable intellect and critical capabilities dismantle these two ideas tirelessly, and his tirades against many of the apostles of these ideologies are almost painful to read, particularly against authors like Lawrence Lessig, Clay Shirky or Kevin Kelly. I think this sentence summarizes well his attitude: “Part of my job is to raise the cost of producing bulls*** in this area, and to make sure people pay for that with shame, with being ridiculed, with harsh reviews, whatever,”
To say that this book is thought provoking would be an understatement. I never thought that there could be so many angles and layers beneath very innocent looking design decisions in our society.
For example there is in principle nothing wrong with using wearable devices to track things like the steps we walk, our weight, blood pressure, etc, particularly if they help us to be healthier. But that information can be used against us by Insurance companies, and in a society where this is widespread, individuals who wouldn’t want to do it will be pressured by society to comply or looked upon as hopeless technophobes or luddites. Sounds far fetched? Well, it happened with cell phones and is now happening with Facebook.
There is also nothing wrong with using technology to reduce crime, but the problem here is the very definition of crime. For example in a "perfect” world incidents like Rosa Parks refusal to give her seat would have not happened, some clever algorithm coupled with face recognition techniques would have detected the problem in advanced and avoided confrontation by not letting a few darker faces to get in the bus in the first place.
Using game mechanics to get people to be better citizens, recycle more, exercise more, etc, also seems like a laudable goal, but after looking at it with morozovian lenses, we realize that it’s not only important to do the right thing, the why is also important. If people are only moved by incentives, they will eventually only move by them and lose any critical thinking capabilities.
In a world ruled by algorithms, there will be less confrontation and more efficiency but less deliberation and citizens would be slowly turned into consumers.
I disagree with Morozov’s constant criticism of geeks, though. Geeks need to be part of the solution not of the problem, not all of them are naive technoutopians who think human beings are automatons, slaves to rational choice theory.
Also, his suggested alternative of designs that generate friction to increase awareness of global problems like the caterpillar extension chord (which twists as in pain when a device is on stand by mode) or the Forget me Not lamp (which progressively gets dimmer), though intriguing and creative, i think will be very difficult to implement in a meaningful way.
All in all, a highly recommended book, it’s not an easy read, but it’s a refreshing voice in the usually uni-dimensional debate about technology, usually only focused on coolness and awesomeness.
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Unfortunately these points were made in the introduction.Read more