Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Friday, July 13, 2012
Dissast From the Past
So, yeah, way back in 2005, after I'd been stalled in the writing of my dissertation for longer than I thought I could bear, I began using this blog as the site for my dissertating (up to then, the blog had more or less been the site for my NOT dissertating), and, lo! after a switch of topic and committee and a half decade's anxious languishing suddenly I found that I was simply tearing through the project when its address was no longer confined in mind to a handful of academics among whom one was and remains my hero -- go figure! Anyway, the table of contents for my diss was once located on a now long-defunct page and I never posted a new one here, in part because I've come to feel a little ambivalent about some of the formulations in the dissertation. Paradoxically, given that this blog is named after Hannah Arendt's personal motto, I have to say that I probably like least of all the dissertation's two minor genuflections to Arendt, a reading of her reading of Kafka's "He" from the Preface to Between Past and Future, which I now think is, frankly, just kinda sorta dumb, and also a reading of On Revolution with which I now disagree. There are lots of awkwardnesses and fudges in the thing, but it remains a landmark in my personal intellectual development and contains some useful close readings of many still influential technology and media writers (there are detailed readings from the Cypherpunk canon, which may seem ancient history already, but the critiques of David Brin's transparency thesis still has currency, I think, for example) and so it seemed a shame not to draw attention to its availability here. I have sometimes toyed with updating the book for publication, but I frankly think coping with Total Information Awareness and security theater and the rise of WikiLeaks/Anonymous in the Bush Obama GWOT epoch as well as the crash of the second wave of online irrational exuberance (the first obviously being the dot.bomb, the second the still-ongoing democracy with zero comments and infinite ads social network bomb) looked like "updating" demanded complete re-writing and I didn't much like the prospect. So, this is probably it, and there it is.