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You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifestoby Jaron Lanier
Proceed carefully. Reading this book is like biting into a jalapeño jelly bean that you thought was pear flavored. Startling, eye-opening, and a bit unnerving, Lanier's manifesto could be the key to preserving autonomy as increased technological integration threatens to reduce the quality of individual experience. Save yourselves — flee the hive mind!
Synopses & Reviews
Jaron Lanier, a Silicon Valley visionary since the 1980s, was among the first to predict the revolutionary changes the World Wide Web would bring to commerce and culture. Now, in his first book, written more than two decades after the web was created, Lanier offers this provocative and cautionary look at the way it is transforming our lives for better and for worse.
The current design and function of the web have become so familiar that it is easy to forget that they grew out of programming decisions made decades ago. The web’s first designers made crucial choices (such as making one’s presence anonymous) that have had enormous—and often unintended—consequences. What’s more, these designs quickly became “locked in,” a permanent part of the web’s very structure.
Lanier discusses the technical and cultural problems that can grow out of poorly considered digital design and warns that our financial markets and sites like Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter are elevating the “wisdom” of mobs and computer algorithms over the intelligence and judgment of individuals.
Lanier also shows:
How 1960s antigovernment paranoia influenced the design of the online world and enabled trolling and trivialization in online discourse
How file sharing is killing the artistic middle class;
How a belief in a technological “rapture” motivates some of the most influential technologists
Why a new humanistic technology is necessary.
Controversial and fascinating, You Are Not a Gadget is a deeply felt defense of the individual from an author uniquely qualified to comment on the way technology interacts with our culture.
A computer-age visionary argues that the Internet has failed to live up to its early promises, sharing cautionary perspectives on the Web 2.0 design concept favored by such sites as Facebook and Wikipedia while optimistically evaluating the Internet as a positive cultural vehicle.
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 predictthe 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, forbetter 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 thathave 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 currentdesign 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 theintelligence and wisdom of individuals, his message has never been more urgent.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Table of Contents
What is a person? — Missing persons — An apocalypse of self-abdication — The noosphere is just another name for everyone's inner troll — What will money be? — Digital peasant chic — The city is built to music — The lords of the clouds renounce free will in order to become infinitely lucky — The prospects for humanistic cloud economics — Three possible future directions — The unbearable thinness of flatness — Retropolis — Digital creativity eludes flat places — All hail the membrane — Making the best of bits — I am a contrarian loop — One story of how semantics might have evolved — Future humors — Home at last (my love affair with Bachelardian neoteny).
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