The people behind the screens are the revolutionaries, the changemakers, I argue in this week’s Untangling the Web audio advent calendar treat. But not in the way you might think.
People generally don’t think of the paper on which the daily news is printed, or the printing press that puts it there as anything but neutral. They identify the publishers as the ideologues and the medium as the conduit. You’d think the same, broadly speaking, would apply where the web is concerned: Julian Assange didn’t invent the wiki platform where the confidential wires were leaked, he was the editor and Wikileaks was the medium. But in Consent of the networked, former CNN China Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon offers a reality check: “We have a problem,” she writes. “We understand how power works in the physical world, but we do not yet have a clear understanding of how it works in the digital realm.” in fact, we probably don’t even think about power when we update our statuses on Twitter, connect with old school friends via Facebook, but a book based on recommendations from Amazon, or use Mail, Docs, Plus, Maps or Search on Google.
The truth is that software, from computer games to web services from Amazon to Match.com, is suffused with the principles decreed by the context in which it is produced.
If you leave this wanting more, check out the chapters on Friendship and Identity.
"Aleks Krotoski is a rare combination of academic (she has a PhD in psychology), geek, reporter and fluent essayist." - The Guardian
"Her combination of cautious academic rigour and geek-like enthusiasm makes a very valuable contribution to the debate" - Financial Times
Until Wednesday 18 December (last order date for Christmas), people using code UNTANGLING at theguardian.com/bookshop can get copies of Untangling the Web for £6.50, saving 50% off RRP.
The book’s also on sale at the Faber & Faber website, on UK Amazon or on US Amazon. Other territories are available too!