Selling, And Losing, Ourselves

Says Nick Carr:

By encouraging us to think of sharing as "collaborative consumption" and of our intellectual capacities as "cognitive surplus," the technologies of the web now look like they will have, as their ultimate legacy, the spread of market forces into the most intimate spheres of human activity.

Or perhaps more prosaically put: six years is long enough to do something for nothing. Alan Jacobs is particularly worried about the "commodification of intimacy":

On some level we all know this is happening: no thoughtful person can possibly believe that Mark Zuckerberg’s crusade for “radical transparency” is a genuine Utopian ethic; we know that he’s articulating a position that, if widely accepted, yields maximum revenue for Facebook. But we are just beginning to think about how radically transparent we are becoming, and if Nick Carr is right, we very much need some “web revolutionaries” who really are revolutionary in their repudiation of these trends.

In other words, the problem isn't the businessmen who want to dig around in our brains of course the business world wants to dig around in our brains: haven't you seen “Mad Men”? the problem is the failure of influential wired intellectuals to provide the necessary corrective pushback.

I'm not as cynical as Alan is on Zuckerberg. I think he finds online personal transparency liberating - and it can be for many. I'm also puzzled at what wired intellectuals can do to provide pushback. The web is a strange paradox: terribly personal and intimate and yet also infinitely large. You relate to what you read here quite personally - you are often reading it at work or alone, and at this moment, it's between you and me. We could do this for free, of course, and for a long time did. But the commodification of this process allows it to be professionalized. I'm not sure why any intellectual wanting to pay the rent would want to push back on this.