What is Evgeny Morozov Trying to Prove? A review of "The Net Delusion" by Milton Mueller

Posted in: Legal & Security at 17/01/2011 16:58

Evgeny Morozov's new book "The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom" deserves an extensive review here. It grapples with key questions of Internet governance in a highly original way. But it is also a frustrating book to try to make sense of. The tone of the work is urgent but the take-home message is murky, if not confused and contradictory.

Here is an example of the kind of phenomenon that gives me concern. One of the many promotional events for the book summarizes its theme as follows: "It is not the young protestors and dissidents but rather the regimes in Teheran and Beijing that are the Web's greatest beneficiaries." Having read the book, I can say conclusively that that assertion is false on two counts: it is not an accurate encapsulation of what the book actually says, nor is it true of the real world as a general rule. But as we will see, Morozov himself is directly responsible for these kinds of misinterpretations. The book's aura of Internet-powered publicity seems designed to capitalize on simplistic inversions of conventional wisdom (it makes for great tweets and sound bites, after all). And the book's analysis is so full of logical contradictions that one could, in fact, find support for that interpretation - and many others as well.

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