If you want to plan a revolution, you never do it in public - the authorities show up and arrest everyone.
We've never thought too deeply about the roles things like forgetting or partisanship or inefficiency or ambiguity or hypocrisy play in our political or social life. It's been impossible to get rid of them, so we took them for granted, and we kind of thought, naively, that they're always the enemy.
I used to work for an NGO called Transitions Online, and I was their Director of New Media. I was a very idealistic fellow who thought that he could use blogs, social networks and new media to help promote democracy, human rights and freedom of expression.
Truly smart technologies will remind us that we are not mere automatons who assist big data in asking and answering questions.
WikiLeaks is what happens when the entire U.S. government is forced to go through a full-body scanner.
When it is about technology, there is this tendency to just reject all criticism as being anti-technological and anti-modern. I think this is very unhealthy.
The reason why there is more pessimism about technology in Europe has to do with history, the use of databases to keep track of people in the camps, ecological disasters.
I think governments will increasingly be tempted to rely on Silicon Valley to solve problems like obesity or climate change because Silicon Valley runs the information infrastructure through which we consume information.
A faithful lifehacker would use technology to avoid dead time and move on to the entertaining, more gratifying activities as soon as possible.
Surveillance cameras might reduce crime - even though the evidence here is mixed - but no studies show that they result in greater happiness of everyone involved.
The Egyptian experience suggests that social media can greatly accelerate the death of already dying authoritarian regimes.
Free open-source software, by its nature, is unlikely to feature secret back doors that lead directly to Langley, Va.
You know, it's not a given that there is an 'online' and 'offline' world out there. When you use the telephone, you don't say that I'm entering some 'telephono-sphere.' You don't say that, and there is no obvious need to say that when you are using a modem.
Technological defeatism - a belief that, since a given technology is here to stay, there's nothing we can do about it other than get on with it and simply adjust our norms - is a persistent feature of social thought about technology. We'll come to pay for it very dearly.
The idea that the Internet favors the oppressed rather than the oppressor is marred by what I call cyber-utopianism: a naive belief in the emancipatory nature of online communication that rests on a stubborn refusal to admit its downside.
I went to SXSW in 2011. God, that was awful. I mean, I only went because my publisher wanted me to promote the book and the organizers invited me and it seemed silly not to go, especially for a relatively unknown first-time author. This is just not my cup of tea; the fewer such events I do on an annual basis, the happier I feel.
The decentralized nature of online conversations often makes it easier to manipulate public opinion, both domestically and globally. Regimes that once relied on centralized systems of media control can now deliver ideological messages more subtly, with the help of little-known intermediaries like anonymous commenters on websites.
When someone at the State Department proclaims Facebook to be the most organic tool for promoting democracy the world has ever seen - that's a direct quote - it may help in the short run by getting more people onto Facebook by making it more popular with dissidents.
My hunch is that people often affiliate with causes online for selfish and narcissistic purposes. Sometimes, it may be as simple as trying to impress their online friends, and once you have fashioned that identity, there is very little reason to actually do anything else.
It is true that authoritarian governments increasingly see the Internet as a threat in part because they see the U.S. government behind the Internet.
We need to start seeing privacy as a commons - as some kind of a public good that can get depleted as too many people treat it carelessly or abandon it too eagerly. What is privacy for? This question needs an urgent answer.
If you trace the history of mankind, our evolution has been mediated by technology, and without technology it's not really obvious where we would be. So I think we have always been cyborgs in this sense.
Making loans accessible to millions of the previously unbankable customers is a noble goal. Getting them hooked to such loans isn't.
In reality, quitting Facebook is much more problematic than the company's executives suggest, if only because users cannot extract all the intangible social capital they have generated on the site and export it elsewhere.
In Google's world, public space is just something that stands between your house and the well-reviewed restaurant that you are dying to get to.
This marketization of personal information is a big mistake.
My fear is that many institutions will eventually alter how they treat people who refuse to self-track. There are all sorts of political and moral implications here, and I'm not sure that we have grappled with any of them.
Information technology has been one of the leading drivers of globalization, and it may also become one of its major victims.
To me, the success of the cyberactivists in Tunisia is actually very interesting, because many of them explicitly rejected any support from Washington.
Social media's greatest assets - anonymity, 'virality,' interconnectedness - are also its main weaknesses.
For all its shortcomings, Wikipedia does have strong governance and deliberative mechanisms; anyone who has ever followed discussions on Wikipedia's mailing lists will confirm that its moderators and administrators openly discuss controversial issues on a regular basis.
Creative experimentation propels our culture forward. That our stories of innovation tend to glorify the breakthroughs and edit out all the experimental mistakes doesn't mean that mistakes play a trivial role. As any artist or scientist knows, without some protected, even sacred space for mistakes, innovation would cease.
I want to prevent us reifying 'the Internet' as something to be preserved like some people want to preserve the American Constitution as it was written.
If we don't like rent control, we ought to oppose it on political and social grounds - and not just by arguing that, thanks to smartphones and social networks, we can create new, more efficient markets for matching short-term renters with tenants.
There is no doubt that the Internet brims with spamming, scamming and identity fraud. Having someone wipe out your hard drive or bank account has never been easier, and the tools for committing electronic mischief on your enemies are cheap and widely accessible.
Universities ought to be aware of the degree they would want to accept funding from governments like China to work on, say, face recognition technology.
Cybercriminals are usually driven by profit, while cyberterrorists are driven by ideology.
A lot of the geeks in Silicon Valley will tell you they no longer believe in the ability of policymakers in Washington to accomplish anything. They don't understand why people end up in politics; they would do much more good for the world if they worked at Google or Facebook.
Jean-Paul Sartre, the existentialist philosopher who celebrated the anguish of decision as a hallmark of responsibility, has no place in Silicon Valley.
One possible future for WikiLeaks is to morph into a gigantic media intermediary - perhaps, even something of a clearing house for investigative reporting - where even low-level leaks would be matched with the appropriate journalists to pursue and report on them and, perhaps, even with appropriate NGOs to advocate on their causes.
To understand the limits and opportunities of algorithms in the context of artistic creation, we need to understand that the latter usually consists of three elements: discovery, production, and recommendation.
I'm rarely invited to start-up parties, but who cares about their trinkets and apps anyway?
In addition to their 'do no evil' motto, Googlers have always been guided by another, much less explicit philosophy: 'computational arrogance.'
Most other documents leaked to WikiLeaks do not carry the same explosive potential as candid cables written by American diplomats.
You actually see liberals checking 'Fox News,' if only to know what the conservatives are thinking. And you're seeing conservatives who venture into liberal sources, just to know what 'The New York Times' is thinking.
North Korea aside, most authoritarian governments have already accepted the growth of the Internet culture as inevitable; they have little choice but to find ways to shape it in accord with their own narratives - or risk having their narratives shaped by others.
Would you like all of your Facebook friends to sift through your trash? A group of designers from Britain and Germany think that you might. Meet BinCam: a 'smart' trash bin that aims to revolutionize the recycling process.