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Monday, January 6, 2014

Technology Writer Calls For ‘Information Environmentalism’

Evgeny Morozov says that perhaps constant connectivity is not a good thing. (Ed Yourdon/Flickr)

Evgeny Morozov says that perhaps constant connectivity is not a good thing. (Ed Yourdon/Flickr)

Technology writer Evgeny Morozov says we’ve ceded key decisions on public space to technology companies, and he is joining the call for a movement to take the space back.

“We’ve decided by default that more connectivity is a good thing, but maybe it isn’t,”¬†Morozov tells Here & Now’s Robin Young.

For one thing, Morozov argues, we turn to technology to escape boredom, but information overload also leads to profound boredom.

“There is such a thing as being bored with too much information, and I think we need to think of strategies in which we can consciously limit our exposure to information, and actually deliberately practice boredom of a different kind,” Morozov said. “Not over-stimulated boredom, but where we try to deprive ourselves.”

Morozov says at the moment, if you want to do anything about escaping the internet, you have to take personal measures. Morozov himself locks away his internet cable and his smartphone in a safe.

Instead, there should be a public discussion about public policy, Morozov says. He compares it to the movement to reduce noise in urban areas 100 years ago.

Like today, says Morozov, there were many people then who felt that the noise was part of progress and people just had to adjust to it.

But the anti-noise movement successfully argued for different kinds of roads and pavements to reduce traffic noise, and pushed laws limiting the kinds of noises that companies and individuals could make at night.

“We need to think about how we need to redesign our public spaces,” Morozov said. “For example, as our cities are being redesigned to become smarter and more connected, and as we are moving to an age of internet of things, this will be a public and a political problem.”

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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