The internet has changed work. It’s changed our society, and it’s changed how we move through our days as humans. Mo Lotman, the founder of The Technoskeptic, believes we need a place to go to reflect on what our device-dependent lives are doing to individuals, the human race, and the world.
“The Technoskeptic, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit corporation which produces a magazine, podcast, and events exploring the intersection of technology and society from a humanistic perspective,” writes Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni, who recently interviewed Lotman. “In pursuing its mission, the magazine and the movement aspire to serve as a resource, build community, and change culture.”
Lotman, a public speaker, voice talent, radio personality and author of the pop-culture retrospective Harvard Square, has a long history with media of all shapes. He doesn’t hate technology; far from it. But he does believe we need to question the inevitability of technical acquiescence and make more informed choices. He hopes his organization helps us rethink what technology is doing to us, on all levels.
“It was really born out of a lot of frustration, sadness, heartbreak and anger that came out of a number of things, but I think the precipitating factor was the Snowden revelations in 2013,” Lotman said to Husni. “That’s what really moved me from just sort of raging, with my fists shaking toward the sky, to wanting to be more active and trying to do something to address what I saw as some serious problems with how we were thinking about technology and how we were using it.”
The idea of a print publication grew over time, in part because he believes the internet has shortened our collective attention spans and creates a gap in comprehension and retention.
“I always felt print was important; it’s always been important to me. I don’t read the same way online as I do in print; I much prefer reading in print,” Lotman explains. “In fact, I often don’t even bother reading things online, because I’m just too frustrated and annoyed with the whole process. I feel it’s very difficult to even grasp things. There is that physicality of print that helps to establish some kind of tactile permanence to the material you’re reading.”
The Technoskeptic is where he is fostering what he calls “a revolution in framing technology.”
“And in order to have a revolution of the way we use technology, you first have to have a revolution in thought,” Lotman continues. “Any revolution of any kind has to have a framework or a basis in some kind of theory or thought or… I hesitate to say manifesto, but there has to be some kind of change in the way people think about things or relate to things.”
Lotman is facing all the usual challenges of publishing an independent magazine; at the same time, he is fighting the prevailing cultural tide toward more technology. Yet he’s adamant that this matters, not just from a personal view, but for our larger good.
“Journalism has been decimated by the digital era, there has been a lot written about this,” said Lotman. “I think it’s either a 50 or 60 percent loss in the ranks of journalists over the last, however many years, since the Web exploded, which is an extraordinary loss because that’s the gatekeeper or the watchdog of democracy. And if people don’t know what’s going on in their towns, especially with local journalism, it’s impossible to have a democracy when you’re in complete darkness about what’s happening.”
He’s quick to point out he doesn’t have all the answers, but rather is building a platform from which we can have these crucial discussions. If you’re interested, check out https://thetechnoskeptic.com/.