Astra Taylor Quotes

Image, Technology isn’t simply addictive – it’s addictive because it’s a servant to

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Technology isn't simply addictive - it's addictive because it's a servant to business incentives. There are huge departments in these companies that are devoted to this and staffed by incredibly talented people who have skills that could be put to socially beneficial projects but who are now trying to find out how to make you click and how to maximize your time on a certain site, or encourage teenagers to "friend" more products and constantly engage with them.

Astra Taylor

Image, We like to say the Internet is the ultimate library. But libraries

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We like to say the Internet is the ultimate library. But libraries are libraries because people come together and fund them through taxes. Libraries actually exist, all over the country, so why is it such a reach to imagine and to someday build a public institution that has a digital aspect to it? Of course the problem is that libraries and other public services are being defunded and are under attack, so there's a bigger progressive struggle this plays into.

Astra Taylor

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Image, As an individual navigating this reality, you have to make choices to

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As an individual navigating this reality, you have to make choices to survive. Sometimes you happily work for free if it's something you love and believe in. I'm not categorically saying that working for free is bad. I'm just looking at the broader implications of it, and also challenge this idea - and again, this is an argument made by certain people in the tech world - that amateurs are automatically more pure and will triumph over stodgy professionals.

Astra Taylor

Image, All the utopianism of the early days of the Internet seems to

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All the utopianism of the early days of the Internet seems to have dissipated. But I don't want us to lose that utopianism altogether, even if it was naïve and ill-informed and sometimes silly. Rather I want us to ask about the obstacles that are preventing the good stuff from coming to fruition. Let's investigate and think about creating something worthwhile instead of assuming that there is an inevitable track of increased centralization, consolidation, and commercialization that we can't do anything about.

Astra Taylor

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Image, Those who applaud social production and networked amateurism, the colorful cacophony that

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Those who applaud social production and networked amateurism, the colorful cacophony that is the Internet, and the creative capacities of everyday people to produce entertaining and enlightening things online, are right to marvel. There is amazing inventiveness, boundless talent and ability, and overwhelming generosity on display. Where they go wrong is thinking that the Internet is an egalitarian, let alone revolutionary, platform for our self-expression and development, that being able to shout into the digital torrent is adequate for democracy.

Astra Taylor

Image, Early on, America took one path and went down the advertising road,

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Early on, America took one path and went down the advertising road, and in the UK they founded the BBC and developed a different kind of public broadcasting. There was a point where TV was so beholden to commercial interest that people - civil society - actually rose up and said, "This is ridiculous: we have our soap-selling soap operas, cigarette-sponsored news broadcast; we have our rigged quiz shows - let's put some checks and balances here."

Astra Taylor

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Image, I’d go to conference after conference and it would essentially be the

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I'd go to conference after conference and it would essentially be the talking points. Either pro or con. It's amazing how polarized the tech conversation is. There's also this neurological fixation, the incessant wondering what the Internet's doing to our brain: "Does it make us stupid, does it make us distracted?" And then the other guys say, "No, it's making us smarter than ever, and better than ever, and more connected." And it's like, where is the economic and social context? Why is that rarely considered?

Astra Taylor

Image, Are we on the tail-end of a generation that is enamored with

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Are we on the tail-end of a generation that is enamored with the novelty of these devices and will younger people coming of age be more blasé about them in a healthy way? You look back at the history of any medium and the people who were there when it was developing, whether it was the telegraph or cable television or radio, thought, This is amazing, it's going change everything, or, The human community will finally be able to recognize each other and speak and be one - I mean, some people thought the telegraph or television would usher in... Read more »

Astra Taylor

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Image, One thing that’s important to point out is that this kind of

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One thing that's important to point out is that this kind of populism has a long and mixed history. It's part of this tradition of problematic anti-elitism where the elites are always the liberal class - the intellectuals, the professors, the artists - and not the economic elites. Why are we so mad and aggrieved at newspaper editors but not at corporate executives? I think we need to look more at the latter, at economic elites.

Astra Taylor

Image, Again, it does seem like frustration is mounting in interesting ways, but

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Again, it does seem like frustration is mounting in interesting ways, but I'm not sure there will be some dramatic tipping point. Then again, looking back on the history of television, you never know. People had to fight and articulate the politics and the rationale for different funding mechanisms. That was a long and drawn-out battle fought in different countries; it's not like BBC and the CBC in Canada just magically appeared out of the ether. People had to organize for it. I'm always willing to be surprised.

Astra Taylor

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