How Do Critics Get Recognition?

Who is defining the set of voices readers look to for technology criticism? Farrell’s look at the “tech intellectual” and “tech critic” picks apart the motivations and political economy of prominent authors and speakers whose work relies on the attention economy they operate in.128 In her response to Farrell’s male-dominated roster, York notes that he “fails to recognize the value and often-dissenting contributions made by women technology intellectuals. That oversight, from even someone as enlightened as Farrell, says a lot about the state of twenty-first-century intelligentsia.”129

But for women, having a strong opinion in the public sphere where these conversations take place can be daunting. Citing writer Laurie Penny’s suggestion that “a woman’s opinion is the short skirt of the internet” to explain the threats she receives on social media after publishing political pieces, Astra Taylor and Joanne McNeil also point to the “disproportionate pushback” and harassment that women face when they share an opinion on the internet.130 In the same “Dads of Tech” article for The Baffler, they also note how male thought leaders and Critics “get ahead on their looks—they look like authorities, like the kind of people who know how to build an iPhone app, though they themselves often don’t have programming chops.”

York emphasizes the need for diverse voices in criticism: “By increasing diversity in the spaces where technology is debated, we take a step toward diversifying the spaces in which it is created.”131 McNeil and Taylor echo this need: “We need to diversify the tech debate . . . so we can imagine new questions, answers, and paths forward. For while men are free to adopt the ready-to-wear identities of futurist and nostalgist, no woman in her right mind can slip on such shopworn garb.”132

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