I read The Net Delusion

Read might be a bit of an overstatement. For how interesting Morozov’s books are, they are also dense. With some long breaks it took me a little under a year to finish it.

Before reading this book I would describe myself as pro free internet and opposed to everything that tries to limit it. That is also why I sought out this book. Having read To Save Everything, Click Here I wanted to know what Morozov had to say on the subject. He delivered.

The beginning of the book establishes that people overestimating the impact of technology can have on societal issues is nothing new. Morozov lists the perceived impact that the radio had on the fall of the Berlin Wall and twitter had on the Iran election protests. These complex events don’t have a singular cause and are hard to understand without also understanding the history and culture. For western think tanks and leaders latch onto something they do understand and, with the internet, believe they can use to have an outsized impact.

The internet alone does not a revolution make. You can have a million people tweeting and hashtagging your cause, but if the people are not organized and there are no clear front-runners that can lead the movement, it will die out accomplishing nothing.

While the internet has made it easier than ever to pay lip service to causes, in the West at least, it has not led to the toppling of regimes as expected. Authoritarian regimes have gotten good at using the internet to further their own goals. That control goes further than the Great Chinese Firewall and censorship, it also includes propaganda on steroid in the form of fake news. Any technology technology that can be used for good, can also be wielded for evil. Social media and blogs make is easier for independent journalism to take place. It also makes it easier for fake news and propaganda to spread.

Access to the internet and technology alone will not upend regimes or bring about societal change. That requires prolonged organization of the masses. You have to be careful when someone proposes a purely technological solution to a problem.

This book sets the stage nicely for Morozov’s second book, To Save Everything, Click here. And even though I have read that already I might read it again now that I have a better understanding of the history. I wholehearted recommend this book.