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The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolutionby Paul Levinson
Synopses & Reviews
With an estimated 50 million users of the internet worldwide today, rapid advancements in technological communication are always wide-reaching and anticipated. While today we expect continuous innovations, history shows the startling impact advancements have on society is not just recent. The Soft Edge provides an engaging tour of how communications media have been responsible for major developments in history and for the significant changes in our personal and social lives today.
Paul Levinson shows how information technologies influence events in decisive ways at crucial times in history and how they are selected for survival based on how well they accommodate human needs. Using often original and unusual interpretations of historic events, such as the influence of the printing press on the spread of the Protestant Reformation, Levinson also details the technologies that survived in spite of further advancements, including the radio and word processor, after the advent of television and the internet.
Although the media frequently surprise us in their impact, people nonetheless have the capacity to control their effects, via what Levinson calls, remedial media--the VCR, text online. The evidence of this book thus runs contrary to current critiques of mass media and computers, and demonstrates how the information revolution is becoming increasingly human, fulfilling our natural inclinations yet subject to our rational direction.
In addition to being a history of media developments, The Soft Edge provides up-to-date commentary and analysis on issues including pornography on the internet, intellectual property matters, and the Communications Decency Act, that are unfoldingright now. By presenting both pivotal examples throughout history and recent events, Levinson brilliantly displays the role new media plays in society, the effects that human choice has on this (r)evolution, and what's in store for us in the future.
Book News Annotation:
Levinson, a historian and philosopher of media and communications, describes the history of information technologies within the context of theories on the evolution of technology, the effects that human choice has on this evolution, and what's in store in the future. He presents an intriguing argument that technology is becoming more human. Thought-provoking and accessible for general readers and students. The author's essays on media theory have appeared in publications including Wired and the Village Voice.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The Soft Edge is a one-of-a-kind history of the information revolution. In his lucid and direct style, Paul Levinson, historian and philosopher of media and communications, gives us more than just a history of information technologies. The Soft Edge is a book about theories on the evolution of technology, the effects that human choice has on this (r)evolution, and what's in store for us in the future.
Paul Levinson's engaging voice guides us on a tour that explains how communications media have been responsible for major developments in history and for profound changes in our day-to-day lives. Levinson presents the intriguing argument that technology actually becomes more human. We see how information technologies are selected on the basis of how well they meet human needs. Why is email more like speech than print is? Why didn't the arrival of television destroy the radio? These and many more thought provoking questions are answered in The Soft Edge.
Boldly extending and deepening the pathways blazed by McLuhan, Paul Levinson has provided us with a brilliant and exciting study of life with our old media, our new media, and the media still to come.
Levinson shows how information technologies influence events in decisive ways at crucial times in history and how they are selected for survival based on how well they accommodate human needs. By presenting both pivotal examples throughout history and recent events, Levinson brilliantly displays the role of new media in society, the effect of human choice on this (r)evolution, and what's in store for the future.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -241) and index.
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Computers and Internet » Internet » Information