“The Romance of Industry”
A Manifesto and a Movement, Part 1
Are we ready to embrace and pursue progress—and what is holding us back?
A lot of answers to that have just been provided by Marc Andreessen, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and, long ago, co-author of the first Web browser. Some of the answers are in his “Techno-Optimist Manifesto”—and a lot of them are in the response he got.
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Andreessen’s manifesto proclaims, “Technology is the glory of human ambition and achievement, the spearhead of progress, and the realization of our potential”—and he goes on to call for a lot more of it.
The whole thing is terrific. I had a few reservations here and there about an idea, a formulation, or a style of expression. But the manifesto’s only real problem is that it is too long and seems to be trying to cram in every thought Andreessen has ever had about technology and the human condition. He needed an editor, someone to tell him that fifteen hundred words of tightly focused prose is more effective than a scattershot of 5,000 words.
But that’s a small quibble, because I found myself nodding in agreement with Andreessen at nearly every point. Or rather, I found Andreessen to be in agreement with things I have long argued for. I’m not alone in arguing for these things, mind you. (Jim Pethokoukis takes the manifesto as vindication for his new book.) Andreessen gives credit along the way to a number of thinkers, living and dead, from whom he has drawn these ideas.
So anyone who wants to dismiss this as the vanity project of an out-of-touch billionaire will be missing out on the fact that Andreessen is expressing a growing school of thought about progress and technology. It is a manifesto speaking for a movement, or to the makings of a movement.