Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Techno-politico ponderings

Facebook has been coming in for a fair bit of stick recently. But writing in The Guardian's G2 supplement on Monday, Tom Hodgkinson advanced a case for the prosecution that transcends the usual complaints about privacy and walled gardens.

Hodgkinson outlined a grand conspiracy theory which posits Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as neo-con puppet in chief, and his string-pulling fellow board members as hawkish ideologues, hell-bent on pursuing a warped, capitalist-libertarian utopia.

Bizarre but fascinating stuff. And an awkward reminder for principled Diginatives that the tech world ain't as apolitical as they might like to believe.

Another case in point: Intel's (allegedly) despicable behaviour as partner - now former partner - in Nicholas Negroponte's laudable OLPC scheme. Whether the claims of duplicitous dealings are true or not, it's sad to see a technology firm's involvement in a charitable venture descend into self-interested, tragi-comic farce.

These two stories convey a simple truth: in the era of uber-transparency, the corporations behind and beside our favourite technologies will be held to account like never before. That can only be a good thing, I think, for what use is tech if it doesn't make the world a better place?

Any individual or group seeking to obstruct that goal for selfish ends will fully deserve their flaming in the blogosphere's cauldron of free speech - a self-righting mechanism we Diginatives should hold dear.

Let's not even get started on Google and their 'don't be evil' mantra...