Crowds vs Clouds

In an essay-length review, I looked at three books on social media for the Sydney Review of Books: Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns the Future, Volker Eisenlauer’s A Critical Hypertext Analysis of Social Media: The True Colours of Facebook, and Trebor Scholz’s Digital Labor: The Internet as Playground and Factory – with some references also to various books by Franco Berardi.

A recent video advertisement by Apple captures perfectly, if inadvertently, the ambivalence of technology’s role in contemporary life. A montage of contrasting shots depicts the variety of human experience and achievement, the panoramic juxtaposed with the intimate: deep-sea divers, a toddler’s first stumbling steps, a hiker on a snow-capped mountain. Everyone, of course, just happens to be using one of Apple’s tablet computers. To a stirring orchestral soundtrack, a voiceover informs us in thrilling tones that while science and technology can do remarkable things, it is poetry that matters because it is what we live for. ‘What,’ we are asked, ‘will your verse be?’

Something odd is happening when a tech company downplays the significance of technology in favour of ‘poetry’…

[ read the review on Sydney Review of Books ]