Two Lists, One of Things My Girlfriend Pretends To Be Infuriated By or Hate, the Other of Things She Is Actually Infuriated By or Hates
“… Silicon Valley innovators […] are the same people who are planning to scan all the world’s books and mine asteroids. Ten years ago, both ideas would have seemed completely crazy; today, only one of them does.”
“Ten years ago” would mean 2003. In fact this vision, and the practical work of digitizing the world’s books, began more than thirty years before that: in 1971, with the late Michael Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg (who was in no way a “Silicon Valley innovator,” then or ever): he observed that “the greatest value created by computers would not be computing, but would be the storage, retrieval, and searching of what was stored in our libraries.” By 2003, Project Gutenberg, a free resource for public domain texts, had already digitized and made available over 10,000 books; only a very blinkered observer wouldn’t already have known—for a decade at least—where the project of scanning all the world’s books was headed.
This brought home to me that Morozov does not describe the Internet I know at all. My Internet is not only the Mark Zuckerberg Internet, or the Kleiner Perkins Internet; it’s the Internet of Michael Hart and Brewster Kahle, Aaron Swartz and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Public Library of Science and the new Digital Public Library of America, JSTOR and countless public archives and library and museum sites all over the world. It’s the Internet of preservationists and digital humanitarians, of scholars and intellectuals of all kinds.
So it makes no sense to me at all to hear nihilist talk of how “solutionism” is particularly rooted in the Internet. If the Internet were a world, Morozov blithely ignores whole continents, whole oceans, to make his criticisms of certain aspects of one small province—Silicon Valley—and then extrapolate from them to encompass the rest.”