One thing that stays with me after a day of sitting with this piece is how shallowly people like Morozov understand (or intentionally misunderstand) my notion of government as a platform. The idea that it's a kind of techno-libertarianism, an abandonment of the idea of government, is truly baffling to me.
Have these people not looked at the history of platforms in the computer industry? It's a history of institutions with enormous power. My fear is that I've perhaps been showing government a path to increase its influence, to shape society more profoundly. While there are ownerless platforms like the web, there are far more platforms like those created by Microsoft, Apple, and increasingly, Google and Amazon, where the platform owner unleashes enormous entrepreneurial energy from external developers, but uses it to centralize and increase its own sway over the marketplace.
Of course, that's why I try to point to useful, generative examples of platform thinking. Institutions tend to go wrong over time no matter how they are set up, but systems with certain architectures are more resistant to malformation.
I'm wondering how positioning me as a libertarian is reconciled with my endorsement of Barack Obama or the political tweeting that has often earned me scorn from the right wing as just another "big government liberal." I'm also wondering how they reconcile the libertarian idea of the primacy of the individual with the study of collective intelligence and collective activity that has been at the heart of my work. I've been called a communist more often than I've been called a libertarian!
I suppose that I should be honored to be considered both a techno-libertarian and a communist. It means that my actual politics don't fit convenient buckets. Some of my ideas seem libertarian, others seem communitarian; some of them seem driven by techno-optimism, others by techno-pessimism. Morozov gives a nod to this intellectual complexity, but then he dismisses it as irrelevant.
All I can think when people like Morozov describe ideas like mine as derived from one school of thought or another, or faulty because they haven't taken into account what someone else wrote previously, is that they are the kind of thinker who doesn't know how to look at the world and form new ideas about how it works. Instead, they regard intellectual activity as a kind of careful hopping from book to book, where new ideas only come from other people's ideas. They are Flatlanders unable to imagine a third dimension in which people actually form ideas by looking at the world rather than at what is written about it.
It's a bit as if someone could only draw a map by cutting up little squares of existing maps and pasting them together. There's a little bit of London, a little bit of San Francisco, a little bit of Mumbai. If arranged carefully enough, it can look something like the real world, but when you get too close, the street names are wrong.
For a bit more detail on these two styles of intellectual activity, see my LinkedIn piece Language is a Map http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20121029141916-16553-language-is-a-map?trk=mp-author-card
For what it's worth, someone who has done a very good job of capturing the world view that I and a lot of the people who resonate with my ideas share is Steven Johnson, whose book Future Perfect
defines a new political persuasion, which he calls the "Peer Progressive."