Reading 31 March-6 April 2013 (ZiR)
Fritz Tucker, Zeteo Associate Editor
[One in an ongoing series of posts. For the full series see Zeteo is Reading.]
25 June 2013
My mom, who has moved to the land where you can walk around naked, but can’t sit down, sent me the latest dispatch
One question for technology boosters—maybe the crucial one—is why, during the decades of the personal computer and the Internet, the American economy has grown so slowly, average wages have stagnated, the middle class has been hollowed out, and inequality has surged. Why has a revolution that is supposed to be as historically important as the industrial revolution coincided with a period of broader economic decline?
As somebody whose entire political and educational philosophy is dependent on universal access to the internet, I can see why these new media workers would consider themselves so revolutionary. It is equally dismaying, however, to see them designing apps that make it easier for them to order food and cabs, and make nonsensical statements like:
I think as communication technology gets less expensive, and people can entertain each other and interact with each other… more efficiently… the percentage of the economy that’s in cash is going to decline. Some people will choose to build social capital rather than financial capital. Given the opportunity to spend an extra hour or an extra dollar, they will choose to spend time with friends. It might be that the G.D.P., in the broader sense, is actually growing quite quickly—it’s just that we’re not measuring it properly.
It seems that the author is actually trying to diminish the importance of the internet, instead of realizing that, in an oppressive world, it is mostly making some people’s lives easier so that they can enjoy themselves more, and some people’s lives easier so that they can do more work.