Knowledge Terrorism’s easy victims: young information civilizations

Mera Granberg Paul
2 min readMar 9, 2021

Part 7— Unpacking Shoshana Zuboff’s very important NYTimes editorial

Let’s be real, if history teaches us anything, it’s that social order is a damn miracle.

Ours is a young information civilization. And by young, I mean extra, especially vulnerable. Human societies and their fragile social orders have always rested on “common sense knowledge.” That is, the knowledge we share with others in order to have normal routines of everyday life. We stop at red lights. And it really works, people don’t die and eventually, we get where we want to go. Stopping at red lights and going on green are agreements we have made as a society. They are examples of the agreements we make every day through our small actions and choices that continually renew and reestablish common sense.

What happens when we stop building a common sense of the world? What happens when we misplace the ability to agree on what is a deviation and what is normal? There be dragons.

We’re living a version of this right now. Check out whatever is going down today on your favorite surveillance-capitalist, social media platform. You’ll see what happens when we stop building sense together. Jan 6th happens when we stop building sense together. Terrible Thanksgiving gatherings happen when we stop building sense together.

We abandoned the public square for (as Zuboff writes), “a private one governed by machine operations and their economic imperatives, incapable of, and uninterested in, distinguishing truth from life, or renewal from destruction.”

Our society is particularly susceptible to the destruction of common sense because we live in a young information civilization. The internet took over our lives and transformed ours structures into an information civilization only two decades ago. That’s not a lot of time. I have kids who have been here for two decades. They’re only sort of adults.

If we’re going to meet the future with our society intact, we will have to interrupt the economics of surveillance capitalism.

Tomorrow, we imagine the future and our third decade as an information society.