We face a crisis of computing. The very devices that were supposed to augment our minds now harvest them for profit. How did we get here?
Most of us only know the oft-told mythology featuring industrious nerds who sparked a revolution in the garages of California. The heroes of the epic: Jobs, Gates, Musk, and the rest of the cast. Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg, hawker of neo-Esperantist bromides about “connectivity as panacea” and leader of one of the largest media distribution channels on the planet, excused himself by recounting to senators an “aw shucks” tale of building Facebook in his dorm room. Silicon Valley myths aren’t just used to rationalize bad behavior. These business school tales end up restricting how we imagine our future, limiting it to the caprices of eccentric billionaires and market forces.
What we need instead of myths are engaging, popular histories of computing and the internet, lest we remain blind to the long view.