(ed: i would like to put my hand up as a budding neo-luddite – i am on the record as noting this manifesting in my world in a longing for the end of the era of the domination of the handheld-computer..
news-clips from this era will be viewed in the future with some degree of wonder – how most of the world was gripped by a form of addiction to a tech-gadget..and walked around/sat staring at it – waiting for their next command..pavlovs’ dogs writ large..
and in part this is why i am going to get a smart-speaker – this is the future – and i can’t wait for it to arrive..and for the smart-speaker and it’s’ like to see off the handheld..)
One of the great paradoxes of digital life – understood and exploited by the tech giants – is that we never do what we say.
Poll after poll in the past few years has found that people are worried about online privacy and do not trust big tech firms with their data.
But they carry on clicking and sharing and posting – preferring speed and convenience above all else.
Last year was Silicon Valley’s annus horribilis: a year of bots – Russian meddling – sexism – monopolistic practice and tax-minimising.
But I think 2018 might be worse still: the year of the neo-luddite – when anti-tech words turn into deeds.
The caricature of machine-wrecking mobs doesn’t capture our new approach to tech.
A better phrase is what the writer Blake Snow has called “reformed luddism”: a society that views tech with a sceptical eye – noting the benefits while recognising that it causes problems too.
And more importantly thinks that something can be done about it.
One expression of reformed luddism is already causing a headache for the tech titans.
Facebook and Google are essentially huge advertising firms.
Ad-blocking software is their kryptonite.
Yet millions of people downloaded these plug-ins to stop ads chasing them across the web last year and their use has been growing (on desktops at least) close to 20% each year – indiscriminately hitting smaller publishers too.
More significantly the whole of society seems to have woken up to the fact there is a psychological cost to constant checking – swiping and staring.
A growing number of my friends now have ‘no phone’ times – don’t instantly sign into the cafe wifi or have weekends away without their computers.
This behaviour is no longer confined to intellectuals and academics – part of some clever critique of modernity.