Cloud computing was week 9’s topic, but I wanted to write about it in my course review post because I think it captures the main themes of the course. I’m also in a period of post-election blues and feeling hopeless and scared about the future of this country and the rest of the world. David Lametti’s “The Cloud: Boundless Digital Potential or Enclosure 3.0?” was quite a difficult read for me: his fear about the potential for corporate enclosure seemed to outweigh his hope or optimism that the cloud could facilitate a digital commons. This quite accurately reflects my own optimism/pessimism “balance” (or lack of…) about alternative politics at this point in time.
Moreover, in his assessment of how a digital commons might be established, he came down in favour of “a direct form of government control” (ie: regulation) . I am not against this idea: I merely find it problematic in that it does not solve the corporate/state problem I wrote about in blog 5, whereby governments and corporates are increasingly colluding. For it to work (and be trusted by its users), it would require governments that are not complicit in corporate capitalism and state/corporate surveillance. Unfortunately, most governments (including our own), do not have this independence from corporatism or global surveillance, nor are they making bold steps to establish such independence. I’m left thinking that structural changes to our political institutions need to take place before a digital commons could be established by the government and trusted by its users. Perhaps the mutually reinforcing relationship between the technological apparatus and political apparatus actually tilts in favour of the political apparatus.
Lametti’s article reads as a good reminder to be wary of technological solutionism, particularly who it is that claims to be offering such solutions. Evgeny Morozov has warned us against the solutionism of Silicon Valley, for example, as he positions their innovations within a wider neoliberal move to turn personal data into a form of payment (“the information economy”). Perhaps the most important take-away from this course, then, is to critically interrogate the political ideologies embodied in our technologies, rather than attaching ourselves to technophobia or techno-scepticism.