A group of a dozen writers and commentators on the media launched a manifesto under this title in March 1998. Though the group might appear to be referring to all new technologies, it seems actually only to be concerned with telecommunications, particularly the Internet. The manifesto argued that attitudes concerning the technology are deeply polarised, with little reasoned debate taking place on its implications. It advocates a middle way between the extremes of believing either that all new technology should be uncritically accepted, or that it ought to be opposed at all costs. Their statement makes a number of points, among them: technologies are not neutral but always have economic and social implications; the Internet is a wonderful new medium but isn’t Utopia and is coming to reflect society in general, both for good and ill; government has a role to play on the electronic frontier; information is not knowledge and ease of reception should not be confused with comprehension; providing Internet access in schools will do nothing to resolve their shortcomings. The early response to the manifesto was in the main either uncomprehending or negative, drawing adverse comment from both extremes of the debate.
As technorealists, we seek to expand the fertile middle ground between techno-utopianism and neo-Luddism.
If the technorealists’ ideas are so obvious, I wonder why we continue to hear so much breathy drivel about how the Internet is remaking reality?
Washington Post, April 1998
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