Matthew T Grant


Tall Guy. Glasses.

Reconstruction of a Talk Given on Walter Benjamin and Twitter (Part 1)

This is the first part of a textual reconstruction of the talk I gave on Benjamin at SUNY Albany.

1.The Death of the Cyberflâneur

In February 2012 Evgeny Morozov’s published an opinion piece in the New York Times entitled, “The Death of the Cyberflâneur.” Evgeny Morozov is a researcher and critic who wrote a book, The Net Delusion, in which he calls into question the cyber-utopian tendency to see an inherently liberating power in the web and social media.

With an eye sensitive to decline (Verfall) and the darker side of things, Morozov lamented in the Times the lost days when one would go on the web to “surf” and explore a sometimes surprising, even shocking world. Those were the days, in his view, of the cyberflâneur, the digital doppelgänger of the Parisian flâneur.

Today, he claimed, the web had found its Haussmann in the figure of Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook, according to Morozov, had brought an end to cyberflänerie. Facebook is essentially an infinitely extensible couch where we sit with our friends, exchanging photographs and found objects, texting, and commenting on the shows we’re watching. Facebook is the bourgeois interior realized in cyberspace and, hence, the grave of the cyberflâneur. After all, you can’t be a flâneur if you never leave the house. Read the rest of this entry »