You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto
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You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto

3.5 32
by Jaron Lanier
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0307269647

ISBN-13: 9780307269645

Pub. Date: 01/12/2010

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

A NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A programmer, musician, and father of virtual reality technology, Jaron Lanier was a pioneer in digital media, and among the first to predict the revolutionary changes it would bring to our commerce and culture. Now, with the Web influencing virtually every aspect of our lives, he offers this provocative critique of how digital design

Overview

A NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A programmer, musician, and father of virtual reality technology, Jaron Lanier was a pioneer in digital media, and among the first to predict the revolutionary changes it would bring to our commerce and culture. Now, with the Web influencing virtually every aspect of our lives, he offers this provocative critique of how digital design is shaping society, for better and for worse.
 
Informed by Lanier’s experience and expertise as a computer scientist, You Are Not a Gadget discusses the technical and cultural problems that have unwittingly risen from programming choices—such as the nature of user identity—that were “locked-in” at the birth of digital media and considers what a future based on current design philosophies will bring. With the proliferation of social networks, cloud-based data storage systems, and Web 2.0 designs that elevate the “wisdom” of mobs and computer algorithms over the intelligence and wisdom of individuals, his message has never been more urgent.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307269645
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/12/2010
Pages:
209
Product dimensions:
6.28(w) x 8.66(h) x 0.92(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Paperback Edition ix

Preface xiii

Part 1 What is a Person? 1

Chapter 1 Missing Persons 1

Chapter 2 An Apocalypse of Self-Abdication 24

Chapter 3 The Noosphere Is Just Another Name for Everyone's Inner Troll 45

Part 2 What Will Money Be? 73

Chapter 4 Digital Peasant Chic 77

Chapter 5 The City Is Built to Music 87

Chapter 6 The Lords of the Clouds Renounce Free Will in Order to Become Infinitely Lucky 94

Chapter 7 The Prospects for Humanistic Cloud Economics 100

Chapter 8 Three Possible Future Directions 108

Part 3 he unbearable Thinness of Flatness 117

Chapter 9 Retropolis 121

Chapter 10 Digital Creativity Eludes Flat Places 133

Chapter 11 All Hail the Membrane 138

Part 4 Making the Best of Bits 149

Chapter 12 I Am a Contrarian Loop 153

Chapter 13 One Story of How Semantics Might Have Evolved 158

Part 5 Future Humors 175

Chapter 14 Home at Last (My Love Affair with Bachelardian Neoteny 179

afterword to the Paperback Edition 193

acknowledgments 209

Index 211

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You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
statomattic More than 1 year ago
One of the most disappointing reading experiences occurs when you begin a book excited, and predisposed to agree with the author's premise, only to find the author does such a shoddy job of articulating that premise that he/she actually turns you AGAINST it. Such was the case with my reading of "You Are Not a Gadget," a book that by the end I found enough of a waste of my time that I opted against reading the final 30 or so pages. I'd simply had enough of Lanier's self-absorbed rantings. Now, the book is not a total lost cause. Embedded in it are some pretty fascinating discussions on how the Internet has evolved, with the concept of "lock-in" (the manner in which one way of doing things quickly becomes an irreversible industry standard) especially key. Music is apparently Lanier's second passion, and his chapter discussing the decline of popular music in the past 15 years is entertaining and informed. However, I thought he utterly failed to connect the dots in any convincing way that the decline of music (or most any other problem he mentions) is linked to the environment of anonymity on the Web. There simply is NO cause and effect where he implies there is... you are left to take his enlightened, ingenious word for it. As some academics tend to do, Lanier appropriates his own fanciful terms (the "hive mind," the "cloud") and runs them into the ground in an apparent attempt to prove how much smarter he is than you. In fact, these terms are needless, childish, and could have been explained in everyday language rather than Lanier's slang. Also, an ironic point about the concept of "lock-in:" Though he posits early on that he has no political bent, Lanier reveals himself throughout the book as a victim of a kind of intellectual lock-in, in that he paints with a broad brush in villifying wide swaths of people of virtually any sort of conservative view (the infamous "religious right," supporters of George W. Bush, etc...), all the while snobbishly assuming that no reasonable person actually AGREES with those rubes. It's a lazy snobbishness that is highly off-putting, and which betrays a conceited pseudo-intellectual who badly needs to get slapped out of his ivory tower, and back into the real world. Because if he'd get off his high horse and employ a bit of logic, Lanier really would have some very useful insight to be gleaned.
j_damico More than 1 year ago
While Mr. Lanier's observations on the broken parts of Web 2.0 are often dead-on, I finished You are Not a Gadget wishing he had offered some more innovative suggestions on how these faulty parts could be repaired. Aside from some new rules for netiquette, the book is light on practical solutions that could feasibly be implemented in the near future. Still, reading about the author's thoughts on everything from computers to music to cephalopods to the Singularity was a joy. His love for humanity and technology's potential radiated off the pages. Let's hope it inspires other technologists to forge Web 3.0 into something that rewards with something other than ad revenue, and empowers individuals even when they dare challenge the wisdom and authority of the "hive mind."
Brainylainy More than 1 year ago
This is an eyeopening book that should be read by everyone whose life is affected by computers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that theres some timely insights here. Theres also a lot of sniping at successful internet companies though that comes across suspiciously like sour grapes from someone that missed the boat. This could have been a great magazine article, it just doesn't work as a book.
Liam_Roark More than 1 year ago
I will not say much here - but you need to read this book. How often is it that a sophisticated critique comes along about a common thing in society, something we just take for granted ? But we shouldn't - our consumer choices and sociopolitical awareness give us at least a small amount of power to affect how we use technology - and how it uses us. Read. This. Book.
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