Networked Generation

» from Zadie Smith’s 2010 review of The Social Net­work & You Are Not a Gad­get: A Man­i­festo:


    “Soft­ware may reduce humans, but there are degrees. Fic­tion reduces humans, too, but bad fic­tion does it more than good fic­tion, and we have the option to read good fic­tion. Jaron Lanier’s point is that Web 2.0 “lock-in” hap­pens soon; is hap­pen­ing; has to some degree already hap­pened. And what has been “locked in”? It feels impor­tant to remind our­selves, at this point, that Face­book, our new beloved inter­face with real­ity, was designed by a Har­vard sopho­more with a Har­vard sophomore’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tions. What is your rela­tion­ship sta­tus? (Choose one. There can be only one answer. Peo­ple need to know.) Do you have a “life”? (Prove it. Post pic­tures.) Do you like the right sort of things? (Make a list. Things to like will include: movies, music, books and tele­vi­sion, but not archi­tec­ture, ideas, or plants.)

    But here I fear I am becom­ing nos­tal­gic. I am dream­ing of a Web that caters to a kind of per­son who no longer exists. A pri­vate per­son, a per­son who is a mys­tery, to the world and—which is more important—to her­self. Per­son as mys­tery: this idea of per­son­hood is cer­tainly chang­ing, per­haps has already changed. Because I find I agree with Zucker­berg: selves evolve.”

— Zadie Smith: “Gen­er­a­tion Why?“
Novem­ber 25, 2010 | The New York Review of Books