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by Steven Levy
It's easy to get caught up with the horse races of Facebook versus Google or Microsoft versus Apple or record labels versus the Internet. But in nearly 30 years of covering technology I find that the major conflicts are those of philosophy, politics and power. You could almost view the past few decades as a spectacular cycle of fantasy novels with the Hacker Spirit as the protagonist and amazing supporting characters including Steve Jobs, Richard Stallman, Bill Gates, Larry Page, Stephen Wolfram, Whitfield Diffie, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg (all of whom I've spent considerable time interviewing.) And as our lives are more intertwined with the giant digital shift, these conflicts are ever more vital. Here's an attempt to deconstruct a revolution--and point to what's ahead.
Erika Napoletano signs her book ‘The Power of Unpopular: Building Loveable Brands’ at the SXSW bookstore.
A year ago one could have had an honest argument about whether the Internet was increasing the power of the oppressor or the oppressed. Events in Tunis, Cairo, Daraa, Tehran, Moscow, and Beijing have shown that it can benefit both and that the effect of digital technology on power will be complex and contradictory. What are we to make of freelance hacker orgs, transparency activists and covert cyber war? In the annals of citizen empowerment and institutional vulnerability, democracy and anarchy share an interesting paired history, we intend to ask how the global system may handle this latest disequilibrium.
Charles Duhigg, New York Times staff writer, signs his book ‘The Power of Habit’ at the SXSW bookstore.
Historian Jo Guldi signs her book
‘Roads to Power: Britain Invents the Infrastructure State’ at the SXSW bookstore.
9th–13th March 2012