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A Surprisingly Entertaining and Informative Hatchet Job

I read Evgeny Morozov's profile of me with a kind of bemused fascination. It's well researched and captures many of my ideas, but then twists each of them in order to serve Morozov's own ends. Truth and untruth are so cleverly mixed that I'm sure that someone unfamiliar with me and my work might come away convinced that I am indeed the "hustler" that Morozov depicts.

I suspect Morozov and I agree on many things about the Internet and its effect on society, though you'd never think so from what he's written.  We differ in our approach to ideas, though. Like Korzybski, a writer whom Morozov correctly identifies as one of the sources of my thinking, I believe that language and the ideas it reflects are a map that helps us to see the world more clearly and that can lead us to our destination or can lead us astray.

Criticism is useful for any thinker. Dialogue and debate are effective ways to improve our maps. Unfortunately, Morozov's style of criticism fails precisely because it is not meant to be useful.  His disdain for engagement and discussion, his willingness to say "I know what you think better than you do,"  demonstrate someone with an axe to grind rather than someone who wants to find the truth.
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Evgeny Morozov has positioned his whole career to be a David chucking stones at Tech Giants. It's all posture with no aim. 
 
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage 
And then is heard no more: it is a tale 
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, 
Signifying nothing.

Shakespeare - Macbeth (Act V Scene V)
 
Just in time for the feast of fools, we have a winner in the "Who can be the Žižek of Tech?" contest. 
 
He left out "being a maker." 
 
Started to read the article got bored with it half way through as it was quite honestly boring, dry and plainly written as a hatchet job on Tim O'Reilly. ah they joys of freedom of speech 
 
You don't actually offer any concrete examples of this, just some flannel about twisting ideas & truth/untruth. That smacks of obfuscation, much the same as your accusation against Morozov. 

I thought the piece was interesting, useful and true enough, especially for those with no real understanding of the ideas around free and open source software. But he goes on a bit, it has to be said...

And the point and usefulness of criticism isn't actually about improving your personal 'maps', but those of other people - the audience, or readership. 
 
Thanks for linking this in +Tim O'Reilly otherwise I would not come across it :-) Like you said, well researched piece.
 
There were far too many mistakes in Morozov's tirade to respond to it.  He takes a lot of things out of context, and his analytical skills leave much to be desired.  I can't imagine anyone but his fans will read the whole thing; when you constantly come across points you want to challenge but can't, you stop reading.  
 
Fundamentally, the article lacked any sense of direction.  It shifted from "tech geeks suck" to "bitter history of open source" with sprinklings of "O'Reilly is bad" scattered throughout.

It might be better if he followed the old 5-paragraph essay format.  Tell us what the hell your point is early on.  Elaborate for a while.  Wrap it up.
 
I got about halfway through before I got tired of the axe he was trying to grind. A good writer will make that axe sharp. A tedious writer will blunt the edge and leave us all feeling dull. 
 
I don't know who O'Reilly is, but I think Morozov has a point. In Finland, the Government just wasted 700 000 euros on one tech hustler who has absolutely nothing tangible to say. So... Comparisons to Zizek always delight me, but not in this case. Give 'em the Axe, Evgeny!
 
I go back and forth on Morozov. Half the stuff he writes is completely on target, especially when he looks at the Valley's myopia and materialism. Oddly, stuff that you (Tim) have railed against as well.

The other half of the time Morozov is the laziest kind of critic. He looks at people who are optimistically throwing their ideas and work out into the world, finds a few possible reasons to be pessimistic, and calls it a day. It's as if he thinks that anybody who even tries to do something different must do so out of blithe ignorance.
 
It would make me think "If I'm such a morally flexible opportunist, why haven't I sold out for a higher price yet?" 
 
The only useful thing I learned from that mess is that the barrier to entry for becoming a public intellectual is a lot lower than most people realize.
 
Marked to read later.  Seems like a clear hatchet piece from what I've seen, though.  Surprised how many on your stream don't see it for what it is on the surface.
 
He is the world's most refined troll, accepted by many (too many) as someone with a valid worldview when he lacks rigor, logic, and consistency. I cannot tell you how many times people attempt to quote him at me, despite his track record in tendentiousness.
 
He has an axe to grind. And seeing him grind it is rather tedious.

But I have some similar criticisms of the base of the 'Open Source' movement. I feel that Stallman's moral principles in this regard are essentially correct, and that we set them aside at our peril.

I also feel that you, personally +Tim O'Reilly have had a hand in creating the situation, this lack of a firm moral center in the Open Source movement. But I don't think so badly of your intent and motives as the author of the article you link to.
 
You're not the first to have this sort of general issue with Morozov, e.g. +Adam Thierer ( http://techliberation.com/2012/11/19/morozovs-algorithmic-auditing-proposal-a-few-questions/ )

When I (and others) made inquiries via Twitter requesting greater elaboration on these questions, Morozov summarily dismissed any conversation on the point. Worse yet, he engaged in what is becoming a regular Morozov debating tactic on Twitter: nasty, sarcastic, dismissive responses that call into question the intellectual credentials of anyone who even dares to ask him a question about his proposals. Unless you happen to be Bruno Latour — the obtuse French sociologist and media theorist who Morozov showers with boundless, adorning praise — you can usually count on Morozov to dismiss you and your questions or concerns in a fairly peremptory fashion.
 
What audience does Morozov expect will read over 16K words?
 
For those who read Morozov's work and then make judgments on its accuracy would be advised to consult other sources. When you say, "This person who is often regarded as inaccurate makes good points in his article based on facts that I don't have independent verification of," that's really how he brings people into his camp.

If one needs a clear example of this, remember when he essentially libeled Clay Shirky a year ago accusing him of consulting for the Qaddafi government in Libya. He had the barest of facts and spun it into a crazy ongoing screed. Clay responded with his usual calm reserve:

http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2011/03/consulting-with-libya-in-2007/
Kevin Kelly
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+Tim O'Reilly   Keep in mind that Morozov is a witty put down artist. His job is to find fault, which he does well with wit, but there is nothing that he is "for". It's much easier to say what is wrong with things, than to offer solutions. so he is lazy in that way. And by the way, he is against solutions, too. 
 
+Neil Kandalgaonkar Exactly. He could just have easily picked out a narrative that highlighted all the criticisms I've made of Silicon Valley "solutionism" (his current bete noir). If he'd really done his research, he would have found Steve Talbott's book The Future Does Not Compute, which I published all the way back in 1995 in a first attempt to get people thinking about the ambiguous gifts that technology brings us. He could have also discovered my distaste for Libertarian fairy dust, my warnings about loss of freedom in the cloud era (which I started making back in 1999, before they became fashionable), or my arguments for the moral basis of both corporate and government decision making.  

This is what I meant when I said I suspect that there is much we'd actually agree on.
 
+Eric Hopper To make utilitarian arguments for open source software rather than moral arguments for free software does not mean that open source advocates have no moral center.  Far from it. For example, I consider the generous morality of the BSD and Apache licenses to be more valuable than the controlling morality of the GPL. Both represent moral values, just different ones.  
 
Perhaps that's why he titled his blog "The Baffler"?
 
+Tim O'Reilly I read Morozov and will continue to read his work but this article is a step to far. I had to stop reading the article at this point  "However, it’s not his politics that makes O’Reilly the most dangerous man in Silicon Valley; a burgeoning enclave of Randian thought, it brims with far nuttier cases."  

In some respects Morozov is trapped in the personality he has created and has to play the part more and more as the go to guy for criticising 'Silicon Valley' this is his niche.  His realist thinking about the web has its place but he needs to grow up. 
 
Would have liked it better if he'd written, "...make him stand out from all those Silicon Valley college dropouts who don’t know their Plotinus from their Pliny" THE YOUNGER.
 
I saw this Steven Johnson quote about Morozov in a comment thread on Nicholas Carr's blog and think it just about sums up his modus operandi: “He’s like a vampire slayer that has to keep planting capes and plastic fangs on his victims to stay in business.”
 
Morozov's article was a bit harsh and I found myself cringing at times. However, I'm more concerned about the requirement that his critique needs to offer a solution or that criticism has to be useful to be valued. Does everyone have to have a vison or a solution for the future in order to comment on and engage with the present?  Bona fide solutions are tough to come by these days. To use an analogy, parasites don't offer their hosts much in the way of value, but simply by sticking around, antagonizing, and (ahem) disrupting their hosts, they do catalyze a fair amount of genetic diversity. A little iconoclasm can go a long way towards making the community a little bit more stable for everyone, no?
 
For those claiming Morozov as a guiding voice, what is this syllogism's logical conclusion? (from the article):

1) "The enduring emptiness of our technology debates has one main cause, and his name is Tim O’Reilly."
2) "Tracing O’Reilly’s intellectual footprint is no easy task, in part because it’s so vast."

Here's a hint: How does a vacuous purveyor of dangerous memes create a vast intellectual footprint?

Answer: By selling to uneducated and morally corrupt sheep such as yourselves. By definition, where influence succeeds, the influenced are created. Or in Morozov's vernacular, where sales are made, so are purchases -- and you fools bought it. If this were not true, there would be no need for Morozov's challenge, correct?

If you aren't insulted, I suggest a deeper reading.
 
How can +Matti Paasio say "good job" when he knows nothing about the subject being written about? I don't plan on reading the piece as I know enough about +Tim O'Reilly from his work. Goodness knows we need more people with time on their hands writing about people who are busy working on something. 
 
Yeah, read another (unrelated) Morozov piece from the past couple weeks and got the sad feeling that he had realized that smart tech skepticism was his gig, and he didn't really feel any need to untangle what is and isn't useful, suggest what the alternative is other than "don't be so optimistic," put together a useful framework for looking at this stuff (like giving greater weight to who tech's being built for) or do any other things so his writing might have a chance of helping society. Which is unfortunate; he could be doing something good for the world with his effort and perception, not just something good for his argument or his reputation or his book sales.
 
Okay, a 15,000 word hit piece on Tim O'Reilly?

This is just a really surrealistic April Fool's thing, right? 

What do I win?
 
Wow - a lengthy diatribe. I would have given it more credence if he [Morozov] had not turned down an opportunity to discuss some of the content with Mr. O'Reilly. The tone of the essay was set with his throw-away line that, in Steve Jobs, the tech world got the pope they deserved ... surely a line that requires a little more explanation. 

I for one enjoy reading the wide array of topics that you cover Tim O'Reilly
 
+Tim O'Reilly it does feel like something by Dan Brown- plenty of historical truth , sprinkled with fantasy to make the truth look less interesting and to glamorize the fantasy. It's not fun reading a taketown on someone you know and respect, I don't assume that you nor I are perfect individuals but it is a disappointing piece overall- it's some serious piece of work to document so much and then do as much misinterpretation as the target of your accusations of misrepresentation.

As far as his demonizing any efforts at PR in this space, it seems that those of us who do a good job of PR are able to translate new ideas and movements into accessible concepts that can scale. I'd join Morozov in criticizing you if you were in fact a PR machine rewriting history to suite you and to profit from, but from what I've seen you and your organizations are very active in creating, doing, enabling so much. Those of us trying to do good work do have the privilege to write our own story, if we don't then others will simply do it for us and we won't like where they take us often.
 
I just noticed Morozov's name on the Harvard bookstore event calendar (Apr. 26) thinking to check out his book.  I'm not sure I'm interested any more.
This piece is boring and in dire need of an editor with a spine (Tim could probably recommend one).  Six paragraphs in I determined I won't spend the time to read all that.  I skipped to the Web 2.0 part, hoping for a meaningful discussion about a specific argument, but it didn't get any better.  It reminded me of the writing you see in a college newspaper, by a kid trying too hard to impress someone into giving them an internship.  For a rant on buzzwords and empty language, it sure didn't mind employing them (perhaps that was some form of satire...)
The only thought I was left with is: "someone would wilfully spent three months of their life to produce that?"
 
I couldn't finish the article.  At the half way point, I was wondering when the author was going to come to a point.  This article reads more like a rant than a critique.  Sort of like asking people to point out your faults, then they work to come up with things they think you're wanting to hear.  If the author intended to fill a volume, mission accomplished.  If the author wished to turn me away from O'Reilly publishing, mission failure.
 
"It’s easy to forget this today, but there was no such idea as open source software before 1998".

Clearly he's a master of research and fact-checking.

Also, his attempts to slander all free-market ideas as "Randian" demonstrates the depth of his thinking and background in that domain.
 
The basic worldview on display in that screed is, well, baffling. Trying to sell something based on an appeal to the self-interest of others is wrong? How exactly does Morozov make a living in this world? 

The specifics about the computing industry are laughable too--beyond the nonsense assertion that "there was no such idea as open source software before 1998," we have the claim that "Instead of continuing to build its own apps, Apple built an App Store, getting third-party developers to do all the heavy lifting."

Morozov might want to talk to a developer or two at some point--although I fear he might give up when he realizes that almost none of them work four-hour workweeks and can't drop everything to explain how he's been right about their industry all along.

It's pseudo-intellectual claptrap--and it's obviously working well for Morozov. Meme-hustling, indeed!
 
"How exactly does Morozov make a living in this world?"

Like most, +Rob Pegoraro - providing an occasion for others to declare their allegiances... something I suspect a WaPo journo would already know.
 
I especially loved this bit:
No one has done more to turn important debates about technology—debates that used to be about rights, ethics, and politics—into kumbaya celebrations of the entrepreneurial spirit while making it seem as if the language of economics was, in fact, the only reasonable way to talk about the subject.
I'll be turning a more skeptical eye on you from now on, O'Rielly. :-)

(Although I don't mean to minimize the concern he raises with that sentiment, I agree that economics should never trump ethics.)
 
+Ramin Honary the article is amusing in some respects as it casts Mr +Tim O'Reilly as a Bond villian. Next time you see him on stage he will be stroking a purring cat announcing his Randian plan for world domination. :-)
 
Shame on you, Tim. You and your selfish greed are the only reason Richard Stallman lacks an entire social movement pushing forward his idealism into a practical agenda.  You just had to lead all these geeks away from him like a pied piper, didn't you?
 
I'm very tolerant of social critics who simplify for the purposes of comparison, but I find the characterization of Tim's views as Randian to be one of a very problematic article's lows.  Two of Tim's strong points are his genuine sense of the need to make the concerns of others a priority, and his instinct for opportunities for co-operative action.  Tim is as diametrically anti-Randian as Stallman, even if the diameters have to be drawn in different circles.
 
Morozov engages with the rhetoric but makes no attempt to connect (tenuous though that connection might be) to reality because he is wrapped up in his own game of meme-engineering.
 
Criticising Tim's ideas as 'Randian' is so far off the mark that it is farcical. Tim knows (and has repeatedly made the point) that markets are one of the most powerful tools we have for making things happen, but that they, like any other powerful tool (say, a Swiss Army chainsaw), aren't appropriate for all circumstances, must in any case be wielded with care, and need appropriate safety features. That is about as far from a Randian point of view as I can imagine that doesn't descend into some sort of central planning fantasy.
 
+Tim O'Reilly I looked into Morozov, and he's making a career out of hating on tech companies and tech dreamers. I think he's a more up-to-date version of Scott Cleland. Follow the money and I'm guessing it leads to some incumbent companies threatened by change. 
 
You can take the troll out of the Belorussian dictatorship, but you can't take the dictatorship out of the troll.
 
+Tim O'Reilly This is what I told a reporter who wanted to interview me to check the claims in that article:

  That article is one of the most smoothly vicious catalogues of  
   distortions I've ever seen.  Many of the facts are right; a few rather
   crucial ones are wrong; the interpretations are...poisonous.  It's an
   artistic use of partial truths to tell a total lie.  More than anything
   else it reminds me, eerily, of Stalinist propaganda.

   And you can quote me on all of that.

I did learn one interesting thing from it - I didn't know you were influenced by Korzybski.  So have I been, quite strongly.
 
Gee, Stalin, bring out the big guns. 

But Eric, just like Tim's original response, no cases, no detail. Just generalised flannel, with added hysteria (poison, Stalin, vicious). Let's see you guys actually respond, rather luxuriating in crowd-pleasing posturing for this unsurprisingly friendly audience...

Otherwise I'll have no recourse but to suspect he's hit a nerve.  
 
+Dana Blankenhorn Curious.  How often have you seen us be on opposite sides?  Politics is the only obvious possibility and Tim is too bright to be a doctrinaire statist.  For all his disdain of "libertarian fairy dust", one of the few places Morozov is actually on to something is that Tim's ideas are broadly libertarian in effect.  Only, Morozov thinks that's a bug - I consider it a feature.
 
+Stephen Benson If and when that reporter does interview me I'll do a full rebuttal which you'll get to read along with everybody else.
 
Wow. Long form journalism isn't just not dead, it's never ending.
 
+Stephen Benson For me, the first clue that it was a hatchet-job was when I hit the comment "The enduring emptiness of our technology debates has one main cause, and his name is Tim O’Reilly."  I mean, really?

It's these little smears throughout the piece that are the giveaway of dishonesty. Another one: "Hiding beneath this glossy veneer of disruption-talk is the same old gospel of individualism, small government, and market fundamentalism that we associate with Randian characters." Obviously the reader is supposed to assume that Tim O'Reilly is another Randroid, but the author has carefully not actually said so in a way which can be refuted.
 
+mathew murphy The hilarious part is that he thinks being described as a Randian is a huge terrible club of insult. I'm not a Randite myself, but I'd consider it far more insulting to be tagged as the state-worshiping collectivist opposite.
 
Huh. I didn't think he had much of a point at first, but I'm starting to wonder now (but not about the 'one main cause' thing @mathew murphy, that's just dumb; clumsy polemic at best, like much of it). 
 
I don't know enough about O'Reilly to judge the personal side of this criticism but Morozov's critique of the govt. 2.0 vision as an attempt to placate the public by letting them fiddle at the edges so as to distract them from questioning the effectiveness of the system as a whole, is in my view accurate. It's also of grave concern to anyone who, like me, feels that participation in govt. should be available to all and provide the opportunity for genuine, progressive change. 
 
+Kirsten Morel The intent of Morozov is to increase cynicism about all western institutions, including its tech sector. On whose behalf, no one knows. My guess is if you follow the money you'll find out. 
 
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."
 
The other thing that stays with me (but that deserves a longer discussion) is the notion that "open source" was somehow a less moral alternative than "free software."  

While there are pragmatic considerations for understanding why "open source" is a more powerful idea than "free software," there is also a moral divide somewhat akin to the one that George Lakoff outlined in Moral Politics. Stallman's morality is a morality of control, of sin and obedience; the morality of BSD Unix, the Internet, the World Wide Web, the Apache project, and the X Consortium is a morality of generosity, reciprocality, and generativity.
 
Heh.  "control, sin, and obedience", indeed.  And yet, it's RMS that's widely  identified with the political left and generous/reciprocal/generative me that's sometimes (erroneously) identified with the right. The irony is entertaining and demonstrates very well what is wrong with the conventional left/right framing.
 
Okay, I think we can officially say that the Evgeny Morozov hype curve has "jumped the shark."  If he attacks other tech heroes or tech "straw memes"--even if he does it even more viciously than he attacked Tim and "solutionism"--it will just seem like a tired rerun.
 
I'd probably find a Morozov attack on me unintentionally hilarious.  Or, I forget, has he done one already?
 
I do have to say that in some ways, Morozov's critique was quite a compliment. He gave me credit for far more influence than I've actually had!  I've usually felt much more like Jeremiah preaching to the ground when no one else would listen! 
 
The article bothered me a lot for its cherry-picking of facts, and for being poorly researched on the era that he tries to analyze.

http://tirania.org/tmp/quick-notes.html

The article succeeds in elevating to an art form pomposity with poorly researched data.   
 
Well... he has a point on the whole "Web 2.0" thing, ya have to admit!  :-)

I'm not sure if being compared to Luntz is a good thing or a bad thing though.
 
Does this guy actually believe the nonsense he spews?  Maybe he's just a bitter Stallman worshipper out to denigrate anyone who isn't lockstep with the Stallmanist world order. 

While I've had my disagreements with Tim over the years (like about the value of buzzwords like "Web 2.0" and "The Cloud"), I would never characterize him as a "Randian".

This guys starts with mostly accurate facts, and then heads straight into delusion land.  I damn near laughed out loud with his "4 hour work week" claptrap.

Also, this guy  must get paid by the word.  He drivels on and on and on about with the same deluded re-writing of history and motivations that he accuses Tim of. 

Finally, I notice that this cute little hatchet job has no availability to comment.  Figures - that type of nut who loves to hear himself speak as he projects his neuroses onto others never wants true feedback or interaction.

Seriously, Tim, if the thing wasn't so ludicrous of a screed, I'd think you could sue him for slander.  He has a great future as a propaganda writer for Fox News.
 
It's well researched and every once in a while Morozov finds a nuance that's worthy of debate, but the fixation on attacking every position Tim has ever held in the last 20 years makes the whole post one giant polemic. I certainly disagree with Tim on various positions he's taken, but I categorically refuse to consider the position Morozov urges us to adopt, namely that everything Tim has ever done has been completely self-serving. That is crazy talk.
 
Despite his stated intention of not profiling Tim the Man, I liked learning some of Tim's background that I had not particularly picked up on before.

Still, what a lot of verbiage for a such a small amount of thought.  

"Techno-utopianism is utopian."
"Developer freedom is less important than user freedom.", as if the two classes of people were non-overlapping.
"Cybernetics is an old idea."
"Tim sure does talk a lot."

It's nice to be reminded that people exist and that they have needs other than communication and participation in a hive mind, I guess, but I don't imagine Tim ever argued against that point.
 
+mathew murphy Unless I'm badly mistaken, my idea of a libertarian socialist is somebody like +Noam Chomsky , not +Tim O'Reilly .
Btw., the text becomes more readable if one searches for "Government 2.0" and starts at the second hit (about 60% down the page, the section beginning with a huge read "A").  Here Morozov mentions a real current danger of western democracies, the outsourcing of virtually everything into the private sector which leads to something that Colin Crouch calls (IMHO rightfully) "postdemocracy" (and which will look rather like feudalism unless we manage to stop it).
 
Morozov sometimes makes decent points when he's limited in space and you share the same concern with him about a particular topic. When I first came across his writing a while ago, I thought I might become a fan. But when he's free to make a run at any and all hobby horses and fill all the space he's given and more, he just starts sounding... Well, shrill and ranty in the worst and sloppiest of ways.

I had to stop reading him, even his tweets after a while because at some point, its just too much effort to get past the dense spinning of words and figure out what point lays under the vitriol and the 'hey, look at how smart I am' style of writing. I can't even imagine what a book-length version of his writing would be like to get through. Sad thing is, like Tim says, his motivations for starting to write about a topic are likely interesting and I'd like to hear more about those initial thoughts, just not buried under shit-tons of axe grinding. 
 
+Ralf Muschall The problem is that Morozov mistakenly conflates my notion of "government as a platform" with the idea of outsourcing everything to the private sector. Does that fact that Apple has an app store, and turned the iPhone into a platform, mean that they outsourced their development to the private sector?  No, it actually means that they extended their influence and control.  

Is there any connection between the policy decision by the US government to open up the GPS system for private use as well as military use to who and how develops that system?  No, it simply means that in addition to military guidance, we got civilian jets to have the same benefit, then, for "free," Google Maps and Foursquare.

I do agree that the outsourcing of government to the private sector is a dangerous trend, and have made that point publicly on more than one occasion.  
 
+Tim O'Reilly It may be difficult to comprehend, but some people get called "intellectuals" by starting with conclusions and working backward, as opposed to the other way around, drawing conclusions from evidence. 
 
As Ed de Bono once said: “The purpose of thinking is not to be right, but to be effective. Being effective does eventually involve being right but there is a very important difference between the two. Being right means being right all the time. Being effective means being right only at the end.”
I think it's become increasingly obvious over the last year or so that Morozov is not an effective thinker. I shouldn't worry about it.
 
It's funny how people's perspectives differ.   To me Morozov seems to have hit his target rather well throughout much of the piece. 

Tim for what little it might be worth I can understand the "insulted" posture you and your supporters have taken here but it as once disappointing and confirmatory of some of Morozov's themes. 

Looking at your specific comments here it's not obvious that you've even followed what Morozov is saying in any detail.

For example, you write:  "The problem is that Morozov mistakenly conflates my notion of "government as a platform" with the idea of outsourcing everything to the private sector."

No, he doesn't.   That isn't close to a fair characterization of his argument.  

Morozov does talk about the utility of your framing of issues for a government-shrinking, privatization agenda but he does not conflate that with your notion of "government as a platform" -- a notion he documents pretty thoroughly.

I think you'll eventually regret the brush-off you're giving this critique and I also think you have an opportunity to do better by giving it more attentive and responsive uptake than you have.   I'm sure you're up to it, if you choose to do it.
 
+Thomas Lord I think it's wrong to confuse a polemicist with an intellectual, or a troll with a technologist.
 
+Thomas Lord The problem with +Tim O'Reilly being more attentive and responsive is it doesn't seem that Morozov is interested in dialogue. Both parties agree that Tim reached out to Morozov to discuss perspective, and Morozov declined. To me, this is the most troubling aspect of the entire thing.  By echewing dialogue, Morozov makes clear he isn't interested in understanding; he just wants to lob granades.

Regarding Open Government, as I've been intimately involved in that community since before Obama came in office, Morozov claims Tim tried to twist Open Government and transparency from being only about accountability to also include innovation. This simply is not true. From the folks at the White House on down to open government advocates and the community as a whole, innovation in government and collaboration with outside groups in innovative ways to improve government services and impact has always been core to open government, and most of us working in this space were thrilled to see Tim and his organization come to DC to be a part of this. 
 
Just read a line from the 700 000 euro book, and it said we may create "Welfare Society 2.0"... So, Morozov has a point.
 
+Noel Dickover Morozov doesn't have to do or not do anything for Tim to be able to write a response to the article that replies to what it actually says rather than to something else Morozov didn't say.    As for the history of how the concept of "open government" became corrupted, I would agree that Morozov risks giving Tim too much credit for what was, as you say, a group phenomenon.    With "open source", similarly.
Gego H.
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I think it's always productive to have someone that is not of the leading opinion in a certain group. Through this criticism - and may it be harsh or unfair - and how you deal with it, everyone learns more about a topic he obviously is passionate about. As a historian I also think that monocausal explanations are too simplistic for an-in depth analysis but great to start a debate... and this is something Morozov could convince me, is necessary - especially on how to hard-code the constitution and it's freedoms. 
 
+Gego H. You're right of course. All the greats have had their critics, and all of them have benefited from that criticism in the end. I especially like the end of Paul Muni's Pasteur movie, from the 1930s, where he explicitly thanks his most persistent critics for their criticism, and says he couldn't have succeeded without them. 
 
I agree with O'Reilly. Morozov is not useful. I think the test of criticism is whether it's useful in creating change. To say that Morozov is a technology intellectual is like saying that Rush Limbaugh is a political analyst -- they're both polemicists, who are well-compensated by those who agree with them. 
David B
 
We should respect other's opinions.
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