A Comment on “You Can’t Say that On the Internet”

In his most recent op-ed, Morozov offers a good, if common, argument. Specifically, he argues that:

Quaint prudishness, excessive enforcement of copyright, unneeded damage to our reputations: algorithmic gatekeeping is exacting a high toll on our public life. Instead of treating algorithms as a natural, objective reflection of reality, we must take them apart and closely examine each line of code.

While I tend to agree with him, it’s important to recognize the actual value of what he’s written: he’s made rapidly accessible (though, with less subtly) what ethicists and scholars of contemporary digital technology have been writing about for over a decade. Read what he’s written – it’s good – but rather than stopping there go on to read Winner’s The Whale and the Reactor, sections from DeNardis’ excellent Opening Standards, and Lessig’s Code. In essence, it’s not that Morozov’s written anything badly, but what he’s written just touches the tip of the iceberg.

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