This was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.
My title is needlessly provocative, and may ultimately disappoint, but bear with me a moment. I’ve recently been reading Andrew Keen’s book The Internet is not the Answer. It is an interesting, occasionally insightful, but all too often hyperbolic, personalised and repetitive critique of the internet age. I recommend it, albeit in small doses. But this is a digression. I do not wish to give a full review here. Instead, I wish to dwell on one idea that struck me while I read it.
In the fourth chapter of the book, entitled “The Personal Revolution”, Keen launches into a scathing critique of the “Instagram”-generation. He excoriates them for being a selfie-obsessed, narcissistic and attention-seeking generation, increasingly parochial and disengaged from the world. But he reserves his major criticisms for the company itself, which is simply one of the many large-scale internet networks that provides a social space or platform in which we can upload, share and search one another’s content (Google, Facebook and Youtube being the other obvious examples – and yes I know Youtube is owned by Google).… Read the rest