You Are Not a Gadget A Manifesto doc Ú Hardcover read

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You Are Not a Gadget A Manifesto doc Ú Hardcover read ↠ 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 than two decades after the web was created Lanier offers this provocativIgners made crucial choices such as making one’s presence anonymous that have had enormous and often unintended conseuences What’s these designs uickly 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 La Lanier is something different altogether; he is an original It took longer than I expected to read this book but I loved learning that there was someone who was thinking about our human connection by electronic device Computer expression is a result of and limited by human biology Therefore it is entirely appropriate to consider them together Lanier discusses the possibilities inherent in technology as well as the concepts of the Singularity the hive mind and the “wisdom of crowds” He discusses the constraints of technology as we know it today He explains that as a humanist he is worried about a subculture of technologists he calls “cybernetic totalists” or “digital Maoists” This terminology comes with a whole set of cultural connotations but Lanier takes care to say he is talking conceptually and not specifically about members of the group “the members of the tribe are my lifelong friends my mentors my students my colleagues my fellow travelers Manymay disagree with mebut the groupthink problem I am worried about isn’t so much in the minds of the technologists themselves but in the minds of the users of the tools the cybernetic totalists are promoting” Which is where we come inLanier put his finger on a couple of things that had been in the back of my head but not knowing everything about the world I couldn’t possibly assert the truth or validity of these notions For the same reason I am not sure he can either but we have noticed the same thingsFor instance this paragraph deep in his discussion after the bit about the Singularity and hive minds ”Take a look at one of the big cultural blogs like Boing Boing or the endless stream of mashups that appear on YouTube It’s as if culture froze just before it became digitally open and all we can do now is mine the past like salvagers picking over a garbage dump This is embarrassing” p 131 It is almost as though we are constantly surprised by the technology we use but not by what it can convey In a sidebar he concludes “You need locality to have focus evolution or any other creative process” p 141 This and many other basic truths punctuate this book and perhaps because it is presented in an organic manner it is difficult to summarize uickly and succinctly It is an important book to read however whether or not we agree with him Agreement is not the point here The point is he has valid observations and he amuses and enlightens us with what he has been able to glean from his experience His concerns are not insignificant and I am pleased he bothered to engage us with this book at allThere is an impassioned and important section in this book about fostering and feeding the creative mind by finding new ways to monetize the value of creativity This seems a critical point and not the completely obvious statement it appears at first blush It has everything to do with where we go from here I love what he says about humansthat we have been highly evolved through millennia of hard knocks but that neoteny is what separates us from cephalopods those fellow giants of evolution By this he means that humans can actually pass on what we have learned and step on the shoulders of those who have come before while cephalopods rely on instinct Following this thought though comes a fear Neoteny in humans is lasting longer—does anyone disagree with this?—and often true original out of the box creativity comes in that inte

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Nier also showsHow 1960s antigovernment paranoia influenced the design of the online world and enabled trolling and trivialization in online discourseHow file sharing is killing the artistic middle class;How a belief in a technological “rapture” motivates some of the most influential technologistsWhy 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 uniuely ualified to comment on the way technology interacts with our cultur As a disclaimer Jaron Lanier was roommates with Richard Stallman with whom I had a bit of an argument regarding epistemology while I was attending a conference at Harvard Law School a few years back I was young and freshly baccalaureated with a degree in philosophy and I realized that Richard Stallman while by all accounts an excellent coder was a miserable philosopher Unfortunately his former roommate isn't much better either as a philosopher a sociologist or a musicologist You Are Not a Gadget while good grist for the mill of anyone concerned with augmented reality is simply too shallow on every front It's a shame because Lanier is calling for rigor and engagement with the world rather than being a gadget that fits into the gadget sized holes of Facebook Twitter Goodreads or any other Web 20 machine and he lets us down with his inability to move beyond his own intuitive rejection of the Social WebNot that the book is awful it's got some very striking moments The best is when Lanier a wild eyed technological optimist from way back Back when virtual reality sounded nigh awesome bemoans the flagship products of our radical egalitarian open source community a UNIX clone and an encyclopedia The former is a youthful 40 years old compared to the latter which dates back a brisk 500 years according to Wikipedia He rightly attacks the normative nature of files and code but oversteps with his constant rejection of MIDI which sounds fresh until you realize that musicologists have been developing new musical codes for years as evidenced by the 1996 Beyond MIDI The Handbook of Musical Codes which in its introduction does a better job of criticizing MIDI while drawing out constructive lessons than Lanier managesBut this isn't an old hippie who hates the future and the predictable denouncements of Lanier by SlashDot folks that also predictably didn't read his book actually support his intuition It's unfortunate that he didn't move beyond that intuition So many biologists physicists and computer scientists think that the study of knowledge and society were the easy subjects back in school and figured that coding in C was much difficult than understanding exceptionless moral norms But just as they would mock poorly written code I'm forced to pan their poorly explored humanist inuiries

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You Are Not a Gadget A ManifestoJaron 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 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 worseThe 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 des Ever since I read about this book at Bookavore's excellent blog I feared this book How could I not I'm currently employed by a social media company Surely this manifesto would make me rethink my career my hobbies how I spend my time It had the potential to be a paradigm shifting reading experience the kind of experience I hadn't had since reading The Omnivore's Dilemma a few years backThat it didn't realign my thinking on all things digital thankfully is not entirely Lanier's fault Though I found his prose to be too verbose at times If you read something written by someone who used the term single in a custom composed uniue sentence you will inevitably get a first whiff of the subtle experience of the author something you would not get from a multiple choice database he writes convincingly about many troubling aspects of online life It's difficult to argue that online culture hasn't brought out the ugliest aspects of human nature on occasion Anonymity breeds not only snarkiness but cruelty ignorance and even on occasion harassment and intimidation And while I think Lanier drifts off point a bit with regards digital culture's influence on music Seriously who cares what someone looks like when they're listening to music he has a point that the internet seems to have brought on retreads remixes and retro whatevers Who can listen to the The Strokes or Interpol or Fleet Foxes or any of a number of other indie bands and not hear the past pulsing through the speakers and these are the best of these retro bands And while the web has brought about an explosion of text that makes a reader like me feel some optimism too often I see people write off no pun intended anything longer than a paragraph with the dreaded tl;dr tag And don't get me started on the mashup culture that exists on the web How many times have I seen someone on Tumblr say You didn't give me credit for that Terry Richardson photo I posted earlier Huh? What I think Lanier is wrong about and the reason this book didn't destroy my faith in social media is that so much of how I experience social media seems to affirm the best of what Lanier hopes for from the web I freuently write blog posts that took me weeks to write as freuently as one can write such posts while working full time; I've attempted and sometimes succeeded in finding ways to use twitter facebook and YouTube to get people to work together on a collaborative project The I like Coldplay therefore that defines me on Facebook argument that Lanier puts forward doesn't hold a lot of sway for me I don't troll for friends by looking for similar cultural totems though I will occasionally seek friendship with someone online based on a thoughtful blog post or Goodreads review they've written I think services like Twitter and Tumblr have enriched my life by presenting me with a feed of useful information and entertainment albeit some of it inane and while Facebook seems determined to be as juvenile as possible it has helped me keep abreast of my friends' lives in ways I never could have beforeI should note that the book ends with a dose of optimism including some science writing that wouldn't be out of place in a Malcolm Gladwell book Additionally this book went a long way towards explaining to me why some people feel a sense of glee when old media companies struggle It all plays into their dreams for what the future holds a world where we're all immortal in the cloud