You are Not a Gadget
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You are Not a Gadget : a Manifesto

By (author) Jaron Lanier

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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.

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  • Paperback | 209 pages
  • 142.24 x 208.28 x 25.4mm | 362.87g
  • 12 Jan 2010
  • Random House USA Inc
  • Random House Inc
  • New York
  • English
  • 0307269647
  • 9780307269645
  • 209,183

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Author Information

Jaron Lanier is known as the father of virtual reality technology and has worked on the interface between computer science and medicine, physics, and neuroscience. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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Review quote

"A provocative and sure-to-be-controversial book . . . Lucid, powerful and persuasive. It is necessary reading for anyone interested in how the Web and the software we use every day are reshaping culture and the marketplace." --Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times" "Important . . . At the bottom of Lanier's cyber-tinkering is a fundamentally humanist faith in technology, a belief that wisely designed machines can bring us closer together by expanding the possibilities of creative self-expression . . . His mind is a fascinating place to hang out." --Ben Ehrenreich, "Los Angeles Times" "Persuasive . . . [Lanier] is the first great apostate of the Internet era." --David Wallace-Wells, "Newsweek" "Thrilling and thought-provoking . . . A necessary corrective in the echo chamber of technology debates. "You Are Not a Gadget" challenges many dominant ideologies and poses theoretical questions, the answers to which might start with one bright bulb, but depend on the friction of engaged parties. In other words, Lanier is acting like a computer scientist. Let's hope he is not alone." --John Freeman, "San Francisco Chronicle" "A call for a more humanistic--to say nothing of humane--alternative future in which the individual is celebrated more than the crowd and the unique more than the homogenized . . . "You Are Not a Gadget" may be its own best argument for exalting the creativity of the individual over the collective efforts of the 'hive mind.' It's the work of a singular visionary, and offers a hopeful message: Resistance may not be futile after all." --Rich Jaroslovsky, Bloomberg.com "Provocative . . . [Lanier] confronts the big issues with bracing directness . . . The reader sits up. One of the insider's insiders of the computing world seems to have gone rogue." --Sven Birkerts, "The Boston Globe" "Sparky, thought-provoking . . . This is good knockabout stuff, and Lanier clearly enjoys rethinking received t

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