Adam Curtis – All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

The documentaries of Adam Curtis are to regular “famous person talks to the camera in exotic locations” documentaries as poems are to newspaper articles. Saying “I don’t get it” or “I disagree” isn’t the criticism of the first that it would be of the second.

His new series All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace takes on cyber utopianism, but at the layer beneath everyone else (except perhaps Jaron Lanier), the idea structure and assumptions cyber utopianism stands on.  He argues that we are embracing a form of individualism that reduces us to nodes in a supposedly self-organizing system that is unable to deal with the actual power structures of society.

This is a tricky idea to explain in a three hour tv series.  I don’t even know how to classify it. Is this cultural conservatism or Marxism?  Whatever it is, it’s interesting. Curtis is one of the people I know of whose interests (but not views) most closely overlap with my own, and I’m glad to say that All Watched Over shows we’re still in sync.

He’s a bit obsessed with Ayn Rand, and goes about things in confusingly indirect ways.  You either tolerate his tics or you don’t.  But try to, anyway, because his ideas contribute to a relevant debate: The nature of digital society.

Here are the first two episodes, the third is next week:


2 Responses to Adam Curtis – All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

  1. Petter says:

    Hmmm. Am running BitTorrent right now -two of three active uploads are Adam Curtis documentaries.

  2. Pingback: Book roundup: Evgeny Morozov, Frank Rossavik « Bjørn Stærk's Max 256 Blog

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