Tuesday, January 12, 2010
You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto
Jaron Lanier, a pioneer in virtual reality technology and self-styled Silicon Valley visionary, takes aim at the interwebs.
Lanier turns a critical eye to the World Wide Web, a tool that millions of people use daily as a means of commerce, socialization, voyeurism, piracy, education, etc. The author argues that the design of the entire system is flawed and has led to consequences that we're only just beginning to understand.
As Lanier states in the opening chapter:
"Something started to go wrong with the digital revolution around the turn of the twenty-first century. The World Wide Wibe was flooded by a torrent of petty designs sometimes called web 2.o. This ideology promotes radical freedom on the surface of the web, but that freedom, ironically, is more for machines than people... Anonymous blog comments, vapid video pranks, and lightweight mashups may seem trivial and harmless, but as a whole, this widespread practice of fragmentary, impersonal communication has demeaned interpersonal interaction.... Communication is now often experienced as a superhuman phenomenon that towers above individuals..."
But it is Lanier's following sentence that more completely expresses his point-of-view on the subject:
"A new generation has come of age with a reduced expectation of what a person can be, and of who each person might become."
I recommend this book if you are at all interested in the impact of the internet (yes, the thing that I am currently utilizing to communicate to you, the reader) on humans, culture, art, economics, etc.