Pluralistic: Big Tech disrupted disruption (08 Feb 2024)

Today’s links Big Tech disrupted disruption: We don’t have to care, we’re the phone company. Hey look at this: Delights to delectate. This day in history: 2004, 2009, 2014, 2019, 2023 Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading Big Tech disrupted disruption (permalink) Before “disruption” turned into a punchline, it was a genuinely exciting idea. Using technology, we could connect people to one another and allow them to collaborate, share, and cooperate to make great things happen. It’s easy (and valid) to dismiss the “disruption” of Uber, which “disrupted” taxis and transit by losing $31b worth of Saudi royal money in a bid to collapse the world’s rival transportation system, while quietly promising its investors that it would someday have pricing power as a monopoly, and would attain profit through price-gouging and wage-theft. Uber’s disruption story was wreathed in bullshit: lies about the “independence” of its drivers, about the imminence of self-driving taxis, about the impact that replacing buses and subways with millions of circling, empty cars would have on traffic congestion. There were and are plenty of problems with traditional taxis and transit, but Uber magnified these problems, under cover of “disrupting” them away. But there are other feats of high-tech disruption that were and are genuinely transformative – Wikipedia, GNU/Linux, RSS, and more. These disruptive technologies altered the balance of power between powerful institutions and the businesses, communities and individuals they dominated, in ways that have proven both beneficial and durable. When we speak of…Pluralistic: Big Tech disrupted disruption (08 Feb 2024)

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