Small and healthily skeptical is good

By: on August 25, 2006

Tim Malbon says he’s pleased to be involved in this Web thing, but appears to conflate lack of full assimilation with brain-washing.

One can be a tiny bundle of techno-lust and not believe that successive versions of the Web will lead directly to a shiny new future.

Posting photos to Flickr (Web2.0) seems like something of a tenuous, circuitious route to finding housing for homeless children (shiny future). On the other hand, if you followed that link you’re contributing to something like a counter-argument.

It’s not that I begrudge boosterism, because some interesting things come about that way. I just find the juxtaposition of They see [the Web] as ‘work’ rather than the defining social revolution du jour with They have the air of people who belong to a mind control cult as, well, exquisite.

Having said all that: I quite agree with Tim’s sentiments that Small is Good, creating neat technology isn’t work, and I’d rather be passionate about what I do than uninterested (happily, I am the former).



  1. Tom Berger says:

    Web 1.0 | Literay Programming –> Web 2.0 | Literary Criticism

  2. tim malbon says:

    Thanks Mike. I felt a bit bad about slagging my holiday-mates off in that post. I really hope they don’t see it – although, sadly, I know that one of them subscribes to my feed (oops).

    “Mind control” was a step too far. It would be more accurate to say that they are like frightened factory workers rather than proud artisans. I suppose it may have something to do with owning a bigger slice of the means of production (or feeling that you do – even if this is an illusion). I think you get that feeling if you’re in a smaller and more agile company – and closer to the business end as an individual.

    I don’t see the new Web as a panacea for all social problems, any more than the invention of the printing press was. That’s West Coast, hot-tub psycho-babble. And I’m more inclined to believe in the un-wisdom of crowds. However, like the invention of printing, surely you would agree that all this new web stuff will change our world, our cultures and societies – and possibly even our bodies – (for good or bad) far more than anything I can think of in history.

    Sharing photos on Flickr with people from North Korea, China – or anywhere else that is has traditionally been difficult to interact with – may lead to a shinier future. It’s got to be better than a stand-off and mutual ignorance. All of this is so new we can’t possibly understand its trajectory properly.

    Oh dear. maybe i’ve overstepped the mark again.

  3. mikeb says:

    Hey Tim, I think I get your message better with that restatement.

    You’re right, it is uncontroversial to say that the Web encourages (is) communication, and thereby understanding and tolerance; the trick I suppose is to not be distracted from the destination by the vehicle.

    Web2.0 applications are all about providing stylised, streamlined social interaction (“hey, these people also tagged themselves as ‘in-a-promising-local-band’, we’re some kind of tribe”). I’m not decided on whether that’s a Good Thing — but it’s happening regardless, and like you say it would be impossible to know ahead of time in any case.

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