Roy Rosenweigi’s Wizards, Bureaucrats, Warriors, and Hackers: Writing the History of the Internet, pondershow the origins and expansion of the internet—as we know it today—will be written, through which different lenses of analysis framework can the “creation” of the internet be evaluated, how the chosen lens effects readers’ perceptions of the true history, and what certain lens choose to highlight and downplay.
Of the four different perspectives listed by Rosenweigi (biographic, bureaucratic, ideological, and social), biographical was the by far the most interesting to me; particularly the narratives of the “great men of science and technology” who’s other worldly genius in all things tech coupled with the general appeal of biographical works births a fascinating and inspiring story of life-changing technological breakthroughs (1530-1). I find the almost caricatured versions of key figures in technology and their journeys to stardom as an extremely flattened but simultaneously embellished version of reality. Flat in the sense that these manufactured versions give little attention to the other key players in the narrative; and embellished in the sense that it gives all intellectual recognition to the renowned inventor.
Movies such as The Social Network (2011) and all six Steve Job’s movies, make me wonder why we give so much credence to individuals responsible for these advancements when their origin stories reveal less than noble beginnings. The “invention” of the personal computer (PC) by Apple, for instance, is widely known to be a heist-like operation by Jobs on Xerox PARC (https://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2017/01/15/steve-jobs-steals-from-xerox-to-battle-big-brother-ibm/#7ab9988112e0). Even with this being common knowledge, it does nothing to damper the genius mystic that is Steve Jobs. It possible even heightens it. Media surrounding Jobs transforms his life into an almost action-movie narrative in which the hero (Jobs) does whatever it takes to be great, to achieve the highest levels of success. This relates directly to Rosenweigi’s idea of writing the history of the Internet as a story rather than a true historical event.
Mark Zuckerburg and Facebook is yet another example. Zuckerburg’s Facebook was not a one-man show. It began as a shared idea in a shared dorm room; even though there is some debate on whether Zuckerburg stole the idea of Facebook, it is certain that Facebook paid up to $65 million dollars to Zuckerburg’s ex-classmates. (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2009/feb/12/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-ex-classmates)
It’s difficult to comprehend how popular opinion reveres Jobs, Zuckerburg, and countless other geniuses of technology and science as geniuses when we know some of them did it on their own, and may even have come about certain ideas dishonestly. This may be the result of the unsaid public opinion that geniuses are allowed certain missteps “normal” people aren’t. After all, they are geniuses, they can’t be held to the same standards as the general public for fear that their exceptional ideas will never come to fruition.
Why do we make certain exceptions for certain people? Is that okay? Should we give more leeway to geniuses in order for them to reach their full potential and create machines and systems may better our lives and change the way we see the world?