Technology comforts, surrounds, and confounds us. When we argue about MOOCs, hydraulic fracturing, NSA surveillance, or drone warfare, we’re arguing about technology. Unfortunately, the conversation is impoverished by the absence of a robust cadre of scholars who can engage with and critique the role of technology in society. Instead, we have the glib boosterism of tech intellectuals like the former Wired editor Chris Anderson, the media gadfly (and CUNY journalism professor) Jeff Jarvis, the British writer Andrew Keen, and the Google executive Eric Schmidt. A fairly homogenous group of white men with elite degrees inclined to champion innovation, disruption, and the free market, these tech intellectuals have usurped the role of explaining technology to policy makers, investors, and the public. Their arguments and advocacy are too often a tepid substitute for robust analysis and honest critique.
The Technologists’ Siren Song – The Chronicle of Higher Education. My recommendation to W. Patrick McCray: before you declare that “a robust cadre of scholars” does not exist, you should probably make a point of reading around to see if that’s true. It’s not as though fierce critics of contemporary technocracy like Evgeny Morozov and Jaron Lanier are obscure figures; and, as Matthew Battles points out in a comment to this post, there are many others (“Laura Kurgan, Lisa Gitelman, Gabriella Coleman, Natasha Dow Schüll, Beth Coleman”) who are neither white nor male. Honestly, what an absurd thesis.