Donnerstag, 4. April 2013

Tim O'Reilly's Crazy Talk

Evgeny Morozov on Tim O'Reilly

The enduring emptiness of our technology debates has one main cause, and his name is Tim O’Reilly. The founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, a seemingly omnipotent publisher of technology books and a tireless organizer of trendy conferences, O’Reilly is one of the most influential thinkers in Silicon Valley. Entire fields of thought—from computing to management theory to public administration—have already surrendered to his buzzwordophilia, but O’Reilly keeps pressing on. Over the past fifteen years, he has given us such gems of analytical precision as “open source,” “Web 2.0,” “government as a platform,” and “architecture of participation.” O’Reilly doesn’t coin all of his favorite expressions, but he promotes them with religious zeal and enviable perseverance. While Washington prides itself on Frank Luntz, the Republican strategist who rebranded “global warming” as “climate change” and turned “estate tax” into “death tax,” Silicon Valley has found its own Frank Luntz in Tim O’Reilly.

A stylish and smooth-talking self-promoter with a philosophical take on everything, O’Reilly is the Bernard-Henri Lévy of Route 101, the favorite court philosopher of the TED elites. His impressive intellectual stature in the Valley can probably be attributed to the simple fact that he is much better read than your average tech entrepreneur. His constant references to the learned men of yesteryear—from “Archilochus, the Greek fabulist” to Ezra Pound—make him stand out from all those Silicon Valley college dropouts who don’t know their Plotinus from their Pliny. A onetime recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant to translate Greek fables—“Socrates is [one of] my constant companions”—he has the air of a man ready to grapple with the Really Big Questions of the Universe (his Harvard degree in classics certainly comes in handy). While he recently told Wired that he doesn’t “really give a shit if literary novels go away” because “they’re an elitist pursuit,” O’Reilly is also quick to acknowledge that novels have profoundly shaped his own life. In 1981 the young O’Reilly even wrote a reputable biography of the science fiction writer Frank Herbert, the author of the Dune series, in which he waxes lyrical about Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers. Read The Full Attac