I’ve made fun of Nicholas Carr in the past. He has written some of the least-perceptive works about IT I’ve seen.
However this is really the opposite. It’s quite good and makes points many commentators miss or are perhaps afraid of bringing out into the open.
We have had a hard time thinking clearly about companies like Google and Facebook because we have never before had to deal with companies like Google and Facebook. They are something new in the world, and they don’t fit neatly into our existing legal and cultural templates. Because they operate at such unimaginable magnitude, carrying out millions of informational transactions every second, we’ve tended to think of them as vast, faceless, dispassionate computers — as information-processing machines that exist outside the realm of human intention and control. That’s a misperception, and a dangerous one.
Modern computers and computer networks enable human judgment to be automated, to be exercised on a vast scale and at a breathtaking pace. But it’s still human judgment.
Of course tech companies like to pretend they are impartial arbiters of information. This sham is to their benefit. And many people believe them.
But Google removes millions of “piracy” links a month. They manipulate their search algorithm daily. They try to corral and herd you into what makes it easier to serve more specific ads to you with tools like “Suggested Search” and “Instant Search.”
Allowing such an overlord to control what we see – and can see — every day is far more dangerous than anything humans have yet created I think.