Prometheus Wired: The Hope for Democracy in the Age of Network Technology

Description

341 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
$39.95
ISBN 0-7748-0796-2
DDC 321.8'0285'4678

Publisher

Year

2000

Contributor

Reviewed by Jeffrey Moon

Jeffrey Moon is head of the Documents Reference/Data Centre at Queen’s
University.

Review

Prometheus Wired questions two claims associated with our digital era:
first, that computer networks form the underpinnings of a democratic
revolution; and second, that “traditional politics” is poorly
equipped to deal with this transformation. The author rejects the latter
claim to assist his examination of the former.

The first of the book’s seven chapters provides a wide-ranging
techno-mythological review of innovation and its impact on social
structures, specifically democracy. Barney focuses on the works of five
political philosophers—Plato, Aristotle, Marx, Heidegger, and
Grant—and specifically on their views of the relation between
technology and politics.

The book includes the requisite history of computer networking
(including the development and growth of the Internet) but does so with
a clarity and flair that freshens this well-trodden path. Computer
privacy, security, surveillance, software monopolies, governance, and
many other topics of current relevance are discussed as well.

Darin Barney argues persuasively in support of existing political
structures as they struggle to understand and utilize network
technologies, while casting doubt on the ability of these technologies
to drive a political revolution. His writing style is engaging, with
liberal use of anecdotes and examples. Acronyms and other terms are
defined in the body of the text. The book includes an index, extensive
chapter notes, and an 18-page bibliography. This is a substantial,
thought-provoking work that should appeal to students of politics,
policy, and technology.

Citation

Barney, Darin D., “Prometheus Wired: The Hope for Democracy in the Age of Network Technology,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/6097.