“Conversation of Mankind” or “idle talk”?: a pragmatist approach to Social Networking Sites [Book Review]

Ethics and Information Technology 12 (2):195-206 (2010)
Abstract
What do Social Networking Sites (SNS) ‘do to us’: are they a damning threat or an emancipating force? Recent publications on the impact of “Web 2.0” proclaim very opposite evaluative positions. With the aim of finding a middle ground, this paper develops a pragmatist approach to SNS based on the work of Richard Rorty. The argument proceeds in three steps. First, we analyze SNS as conversational practices. Second, we outline, in the form of an imaginary conversation between Rorty and Heidegger, a positive and negative ‘conversational’ view on SNS. Third, we deploy a reflection, again using Rortian notions, on that evaluation, starting from the concept of ‘self-reflectivity.’ Finally, the relations between these three steps are more detailedly investigated. By way of the sketched technique, we can interrelate the two opposing sides of the recent debates—hope and threat—and judge SNS in all their ambiguity
Keywords Philosophy of technology  Social Networking  Ethics  Pragmatism  Richard Rorty  Martin Heidegger
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