16 Paradoxes Created by Technology—Byting Off More than We Can Chew

POSTED ON Dec 30, 2015

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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By Michael Larsen

I can’t think of any better way to end 2015 than with a guest post from Mike Larsen (you can read his bio below). Mike keeps his finger on the pulse of the publishing world through his wide network of friends and colleagues.

Combine that with his love for lists (they make great handouts!) and quotable style, and you’ll see why I’m always happy to have one of his articles for the blog. Today, Mike takes on the paradoxes inherent in the constantly changing technology landscape that every author faces.

Like climate disruption, tech disruption is a relentless, implacable, accelerating force unto itself. We embrace it for its benefits without understanding their consequences.

Tech is driven by profit, competition, the need to grow and satisfy stakeholders, and an innovate-or-die pressure that force tech companies to be more concerned about profit than people or the planet, the essential sources of sustainability.

The need for profit undermines idealism and makes the phrase “ethical corporation” an oxymoron. Tech disruption is as important as climate disruption, and we control both equally.

  1. The Internet simultaneously connects us to the world and isolates us.
  2. The more tech fosters unity, the more it enables fragmentation.
  3. The more knowledge there is, the less we know.
  4. We are in a state of information overload and information deficit simultaneously, and there’s nothing we can do about either.
  5. The greater the amount of information available, the smaller the devices it goes through. Some day all knowledge will be available, but the device for accessing it will be too small to see.
  6. Tech was going to lead to paperless offices, but it generates more paper faster than any preceding technology.
  7. However much good tech does, its potential for evil will always be greater.
  8. The more powerful tech is, the fewer people there are who control it.

  9. The more powerful tech is, the less power people have to control it.
  10. The more powerful tech is, the greater its potential for diminishing the freedom and control of individuals and organizations.
  11. The larger tech becomes, the more vulnerable it becomes.
  12. The more tech serves us, the more we have to meet its needs.
  13. The more tech empowers users for commerce, creativity, communication, and community, the more potential it has to control freedom.
  14. Technology breeds frenemies; Amazon can be your enemy and your best customer.
  15. The more tech increases productivity, the fewer workers there are who can buy what is produced.
  16. The more time-saving devices we have, the less time we have. Someday, we won’t have to do anything, but we won’t have the time to do it.

Mike LarsenMichael Larsen is a principal in the Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency. He is the author of several books including How to Write a Book Proposal and the book proposal templates based on it. Michael is also the founder of the San Francisco Writer’s Conference: A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community and the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference. And he writes a blog, too.

Photo: shutterstock

Joel Friedlander

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Joel Friedlander

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