Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Tom Hodgkinson on Unplugging

I've already blogged about one piece from Tom Hodgkinson today - but several people have sent me the article about Facebook he wrote for yesterday's Guardian. There have been plenty of conspiracy theories doing the rounds about Facebook. Personally, I think the CIA and neo-con connections, brought up again in Tom's article, are exaggerated.

The thing about capitalism is that you can explain a lot of what goes on without reference to conspiracies, by virtue of the desire of people who already have money to use it to make more of the same. At least, that's what I would have said a few months ago. Actually, having come through the process of raising funding for School of Everything, it's fair to say that - particularly with early-stage startups - there are investors who make decisions based on their values and their desire to change the world, rather than simply the returns on offer. Is that a bad thing? You might say it depends on the values in question.

One of the things we decided when we founded School of Everything was that we didn't want to encourage people to spend more time sat at computers. Our focus has always been on using the internet in smart ways, so as to spend more time doing interesting stuff in the real world.

Conspiracies aside, I think Tom puts his finger on a genuine difference of vision between those who see a future in which humans have transcended nature and those who are profoundly troubled by this vision. I'm certainly in the latter camp - and the final paragraph of his article does a wonderful job of summing up the positive reasons why:

For my own part, I am going to retreat from the whole thing, remain as unplugged as possible, and spend the time I save by not going on Facebook doing something useful, such as reading books. Why would I want to waste my time on Facebook when I still haven't read Keats' Endymion? And when there are seeds to be sown in my own back yard? I don't want to retreat from nature, I want to reconnect with it. Damn air-conditioning! And if I want to connect with the people around me, I will revert to an old piece of technology. It's free, it's easy and it delivers a uniquely individual experience in sharing information: it's called talking.


SimplyTim said...


Oh my, do I resonate to this posting and the previous one.

I'll get back later to leave more of a comment.

He offers an alternate path and I like the word riposte.


Dougald Hine said...

Hi Tim,

I thought you might like those two posts! If you haven't met it already, you should try getting hold of Tom's book, 'How To Be Free', which is a marvellous read.

I also just found another interesting blog post about Facebook and data-mining:


Dougald Hine said...

Oh, I just discovered the US title of Tom's book is 'The Freedom Manifesto'.

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