Coates on Carr

Tom Coates is annoyed with Nick Carr. Here’s his summing up:

I think the thing that annoys me most about your piece here is that it’s the same rhetoric that you always take – that there’s something inherently suspicious about all this weird utopian rhetoric of these mad futurist, self-important technologists – that somehow none of it really applies to the rest of the world, because those people are so detached from reality, and that finally they’re all missing what’s really important.

All of which would be rather more convincing if you weren’t recapitulating what we’ve been saying for the last three years.

While I’m sure it helps promote you in the eyes of people with power and money to be suspicious and critical of new technology and set yourself up to be an impartial arbiter of what’s happening, free of hype and applying real-world values (or however it is you sell this warmed over stuff), I’d argue that you’re ultimately doing yourself a disservice. You just look ill-informed!

Ouch! That’s a bit harsh: Nick Carr is a bit of a contrarian, but sometimes he’s very perceptive (e.g. about the sharecropping metaphor as a way of thinking about MySpace and some user-generated content). But Tom Coates is right about the chunk of the intellectual spectrum to which Carr has staked a claim. The title of his first book — Does IT Matter? — says it all. He’s positioned himself as the ‘grown-up’ commentator.