Salon: Of greed, technolibertarianism and geek omnipotence

“Paulina Borsook talks with Thomas Scoville about her new
book, “Cyberselfish.”

“[Salon:] It seems like you’re contending that
technolibertarianism is a rhetorical projection of
control-oriented, non-communitarian, arrested-adolescent urges of
the preponderantly male geek technocracy. You document a
collective, industry-wide failure to grow up and participate in
society, as well as a culture that celebrates a massive
underdevelopment of its humanity. Did I get that right?

[Borsook:] Well, yes, I suppose. Though I
should say this book was written over several years, and the
culture has changed a bit over that time. One of the very recent
changes has been that the übergeek libertarian culture I wrote
about has been mated with MBA culture, which brings its own
prejudices and religious beliefs to the party.”

“[Salon:] I noticed that at some point in the
mid-’90s, we got major culture-creep, when programmers and systems
administrators all became covert stock traders on the Web.

[Borsook:] Yes. It’s horrifying. [laughs]
Because — and I’m not anti-technology or anti-geek — what is
really best about these people is what I call their “curious child”
quality — scientists have it — that kind of noodling around with
code, and zoning out for 36 hours at a time working on something.
That’s where the really good creative work can happen. But if you
have one corner of your monitor that’s constantly watching the
stock market, or you’re thinking about what sort of play you can
come up with to impress the institutional investors, well, that’s
not how really serious technology work gets done. That, to me, is
kind of sad and scary, and — not to sound patronizing — but kind
of a loss of their innocence in a way that I don’t think is


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