The Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers, and the Ever-Wasers

I have just finished (somewhat) editing a 4000-word document today and I don’t feel like writing something heavy after a long day, or not writing at all. However, I have been thinking a lot about the patterns of books and podcasts about technology I consume (see: Radical Technologies 1, 2, 3; New Dark Age 1, 2; The Digital Party) and saw how much of them were, for the lack of a better term, scary. Then I think about what kind of tech thinker I am, and how much of this would affect the kind of technosociologist I aspire to be.

Adam Gopnik wrote about the three types of tech thinkers:

All three kinds appear among the new books about the Internet: call them the Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers, and the Ever-Wasers. The Never-Betters believe that we’re on the brink of a new utopia, where information will be free and democratic, news will be made from the bottom up, love will reign, and cookies will bake themselves. The Better-Nevers think that we would have been better off if the whole thing had never happened, that the world that is coming to an end is superior to the one that is taking its place, and that, at a minimum, books and magazines create private space for minds in ways that twenty-second bursts of information don’t. The Ever-Wasers insist that at any moment in modernity something like this is going on, and that a new way of organizing data and connecting users is always thrilling to some and chilling to others—that something like this is going on is exactly what makes it a modern moment. One’s hopes rest with the Never-Betters; one’s head with the Ever-Wasers; and one’s heart? Well, twenty or so books in, one’s heart tends to move toward the Better-Nevers, and then bounce back toward someplace that looks more like home.

I guess — at my desk here right now editing my thesis about how social media alters the key tenets of today’s social movements — I should consider myself as the Ever-Waser.

(That’s it. That’s it for today.)

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