[iDC] Re:From Counter Culture to Cyber Culture: The "Utopian" thing.....

Ryan Shaw ryanshaw at ISchool.Berkeley.EDU
Sun May 6 11:50:58 EDT 2007

On May 5, 2007, at 10:15 PM, Michel Bauwens wrote:

> I am a regular reader of both Kelly and Rheingold, and though they  
> are optimistic, and believe in the potential of technology for  
> human emancipation. I challenge Ryan to show the precise citations  
> where these authors advocate the rule of technical experts.

OK, how about Brand's "Environmental Heresies" article in MIT  
Technology Review, in which he calls upon scientists to grab the  
reins of environmental debate from close-minded romantics:

"The romantics are moralistic, rebellious against the perceived  
dominant power, and combative against any who appear to stray from  
the true path. They hate to admit mistakes or change direction. The  
scientists are ethicalistic, rebellious against any perceived  
dominant paradigm, and combative against each other. For them,  
admitting mistakes is what science is."

"Within the environmental movement, scientists are the radical  
minority leading the way. They are already transforming the  
perspective on urbanization and population growth. But their  
radicalism and leadership will have to increase if humanity is to  
harness green biotech and step up to its responsibilities for the  
global climate."

I'm not anti-science or anti-technology--I've spent my adult life  
writing code and designing technical systems. And I actually agree  
with many of Brand's criticisms of the environmental movement. But  
his view of scientists as "rebellious against any perceived dominant  
paradigm" directly conflicts with piles of empirical evidence of how  
scientists (and engineers) actually behave (see e.g. Kuhn, Latour, or  
pretty much anyone who has done ethnographies of laboratory work).  
It's ironic that he paints such a romantic picture of the heroic  
scientist in a screed against romantics.


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