Thursday, August 20, 2009

Are we committing cultural suicide?

Bob Cringely got my attention with a post for our times titled, "Is Technology Evil?" Here's a snippet to tease you in:

Google’s corporate motto is “Don’t be Evil.” I thought that was silly when I heard it first. But now I think it is the height of wisdom. Because the techiest of techie companies probably knows better than most the power of tweaking systems to death.

It’s possible. We CAN kill our own culture trying to preserve or defend it. Understanding that and helping to make change as painless as possible comes down to the best efforts of those few people who really understand the complexity of our society — many of whom are readers of this column.

Everything is interconnected in this era where technology drives society yet few really understand technology. If someone can take down Twitter because of a petty grudge then ANY information system is vulnerable. Sometime neglect is all it takes.

And neglect is all around us.

Reading this post, I was immediately reminded of Dan Quinn's novel, Ishmael. And the fundamental question it raises: Are you a leaver or a taker?

Please, go read the whole post at Cringely's site (and, if you haven't already, pick up a copy of Ishmael -- it's good for the soul). And think about how you might personally help address the question of ethics that Bob raises. We have the opportunity, all of us, to address this in how we model behavior, what we choose to teach our children, the performance we choose to reward.

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