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Opinion | I didn't want it to be true, but the media really is the message

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I’ve come to think the same about today’s technicians. Their problem is that they don’t take technology seriously enough. They refuse to see how it changes us, or even how it changes them.

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of browsers Mosaic and Netscape, and co-founder of venture capital firm A16Z, perpetually memes about how everyone online is obsessed with the “current”. It became clear when I saw you tweeting. Andreessen said he serves on the board of Meta, whose company is helping Elon Musk finance his proposed acquisition of Twitter. He is central to media platforms that algorithmically obsess over the world with small collections of the same topic, flattening the friction of place and time that made Omaha news markedly different from Ojai news in past eras. Did. He and his company have been relentless in the crypto hype that has transformed the dynamics of the social web’s “current stuff” into a bubbling speculative asset market.

Behind his arguments are views on human nature and how it may or may not interact with technology. In an interview with Tyler Cowen, Andreessen suggests that Twitter is like “a giant X-ray machine for him.”

you have this phenomenon. attractiveif there are all these luminaries, then all these people are in positions of authorityoften great authorityThe leading legal theorists of our time, leading politicians, all these businessmen.And they tweet and suddenly they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s who you really are’ that is

But is it? I don’t think this applies to Andreessen. There is no stable and immutable self. People can be cruel and altruistic, far-sighted and short-sighted. We are who we are, in this moment, in this context, mediated in these ways. It is an abdication of responsibility for engineers to pretend that the technology they create has no impact on our future. Wherever he looks on his X-rays, you can see mold.

Over the past decade, the narrative has turned its back on Silicon Valley. Puffpieces became popular work, and visionaries inventing our future were remade by Machiavellians to undermine our present. What I find frustrating about the stories is that they focus on people and companies rather than technology. I think it’s because American culture is very uncomfortable with technical criticism. There is such a thing as an immune system against it. “In this sense, all Americans are Marxists,” Postman wrote.

I believe that to be true, but it coexists with the opposite truth. Americans are capitalists and do not believe that choice, if made freely, gives presumption to criticism. This speaks to how the medium we use changes us That’s one reason why it’s so hard to do. That conversation, on some level, demands judgment. This came to my mind recently when I heard social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who collects data on how social media harms teenagers, speak frankly. Yes, we tried Instagram, but let’s be clear. There is no way a teenage girl would be allowed to post pictures of herself in her adolescence for strangers and others. No tweaks, no structural changes. be publicly evaluated. “

What surprised me about Haidt’s comment is that I’ve heard very few things constructed that way. He claims three things. First, how Instagram works is changing the way teenagers think. With our growing need for approval of how we look, say, and act, approval is always available and never enough. Second, it’s the platform’s fault, and it’s inherent in how Instagram is designed, not just how it’s used. Even though many people enjoy using it and get past the gauntlet successfully, it’s still bad.