Feeds

The autistic network: Web2.0 makes you dumb

'One nation under a format', New York Review of Books pronounces

The essential guide to IT transformation

If The Social Network dug the grave for Web 2.0, then here comes writer Zadie Smith to pile a lorryload of dirt on top.

The movie is excellent, and it’s finally got the review it deserves. Writing in the New York Review of Books, Smith has a big helping hand from Jaron Lanier, who provides her with just the right illumination.

In the movie, Zuckerberg is either a sociopath, or a tragic figure – take your pick. The movie’s scriptwriter Aaron Sorkin calls him a “tragic hero”. For Lanier, whose You Are Not A Gadget is the first and best book on the Web 2.0 culture, and the bland conformity that it requires from us, the answer is simpler.

Web 2.0

Lanier notices that to make “connections” or “share”, as Facebook and other Web 2.0 norms demand, you have to be a dumber, simpler version of yourself. Lanier is not surprised by this. Web 2.0, like most of our software, was created by autistic people. Zuckerberg is autistic, and can’t see individuality, let alone understand it. So he can only understand what humans want through the hive mind. And by creating Facebook, he created a massive machine to help him figure it out.

“He wants to be liked… For our self-conscious generation,” writes Smith, “not being liked is as bad as it gets. Intolerable to be thought of badly for a minute, even for a moment.”

She notes Zuckerberg’s behaviour as the the movie drew near: on the day the movie opened, he donated $100m to his home town’s school system. "He didn’t need to just get out ‘in front’ of the story. He had to get right on top of it and try to stop it breathing. [Then] two weeks later, he went to a screening. Why? Because everybody liked the movie."

That’s not having your own mind. But then that’s not the point. Facebook forces people into a straitjacket of conformity: “One nation under a format”, she calls it.

“The last defense of every Facebook addict is: but it helps me keep in contact with people who are far away! Well, e-mail and Skype do that, too, and they have the added advantage of not forcing you to interface with the mind of Mark Zuckerberg."

The review has spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it or plan to soon – don’t click the next link. If you have, it’s got some quite canny observations. Over here. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft exits climate denier lobby group
ALEC will have to do without Redmond, it seems
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?