Haven't yet sorted my thoughts on Evgeny Morozov's extremely protracted bludgeoning of Tim O'Reilly. The Metafilter thread is here, and its bog-standard MeFi snark/cynicism is less out of place than usual -- have a look. Bear in mind, though, the Morozov piece is 16,000 words long(!!!!!!!!). The throat-clearing along takes ages.
Lots of folks in my online circles recommend O'Reilly's technoutopian popcrit; fewer bring up Morozov, though Morozov's the deeper (I wouldn't say 'broader') thinker, not to mention an up-and-comer in tech-skeptic criticism. But then, Morozov's worldview is (literally) foreign to the tech-boosterish folks I know. This essay, unsurprisingly from The Baffler, feels like a nonideal entry to a very important conversation that not enough people realize needs to happen.
The only audience that'll read the piece, by the way, is inclined to violently disagree with it; that's a big part of the problem. I'm sickened and worried at the number of 'intelligent' people chiming in (on O'Reilly's Google+ page, for instance) to say nothing more than 'too angry, too lengthy, I couldn't figure out his point so I stopped reading.' Is it really necessary to point out what's wrong with those comments? (Especially when the same folks are happy to *nodnod* along to Eric Raymond's ranting...)
The problems with the piece are clear from the beginning and others are pointing them out, from fast'n'loose facts to undisciplined prose. But its virtues shouldn't be buried deep.
I think this point bears restating, over and over: one of the problems with O'Reilly and folks in his line of work -- the invited-speaker set, the 'disruptive tech' conference set, the TED set, the guys who attach 'Big-' or '-2.0' or '-ification' or especially 'Open-' to arbitrary words and then cash your check -- is that their pop utopianism looks like 'sensible' progressivism spiced with technolibertarianism, or vice versa, but it only succeeds in a market atmosphere that they helped create, through precisely the profitable word games Morozov is decrying. Ultimately, 'Web 2.0' and its rhetorical cousins are about selling gadgets, not feeing the poor; and 'joining the elite' isn't the same as 'changing the world,' even though in joining the elite your own tiny world does in fact change (it has lots more money).
The revolutionary-Internet myth is dangerous for a ton of reasons, all much much older than the Internet, and Morozov's important contribution is to point out that the (they're always) men with a vested interest in promoting that myth shouldn't be taken seriously as neutral analysts. O'Reilly is either a sage or a marketer, but he can't be both. Morozov argues that we should treat him solely as the latter, and see where that gets us.
He just doesn't need 16,000 words to do it. Hey Ev: freelance editor for hire, here!