Can be summarized as the “is social media a new space for active democracies or a heightened technology of control?” Shirky sits on the “utopian” side, while Morozov (and people like Andrew Keen) sit on the “control” side. Things came to a head when Morozov asked for more info about Shirky’s work for the then-Gaddafi Libyan government. Shirky tried to clear the air with a somewhat weak response. A third-party blog post then summarized the back-and-forth.
The debate has returned with Morozov taking down Shirky “comrade” Jeff Jarvis in The New Republic. A colleague at the recently launched Kernel has decided that this is the real end of Jarvis & Shirky folk but that seems premature. After all, the Cyber-cynics (if I can call them that) keep to themselves just as much as the “utopians” they decry. When Morozov’s The Net Delusion was glowingly reviewed by the New York Times, it was through the mouth of Lee Siegel. Not coincidentally, Siegel’s Cult of Amateur lined up ideologically with Morozov, and would have to be as anecdotal and trivial as Jarvis’s own work. So the praise is ultimately just a cheer from a fan. Meaning no objective panel has vetted either side’s conclusions.
So is the debate reaching a conclusion? Or just an apex?
Perhaps neither. These gurus and pundits are defined better by the fight then any set of evidence they espouse.