In the past decade and a half, we have seen the advent of cable television, MTV, the compact disc, virtual reality, interactive computer programs, e-mail, and the World Wide Web on the Internet. High technology is advancing at a mind-boggling rate, but few of us stop to question how the explosion of information and high-tech entertainment affects our culture.
In Software of the Self, Anthony Smith casts a wide net over society and culture, describing the effects of the "information revolution" on humankind now and suggesting what will happen in the future. Smith traces the development of entertainment describing how in the past it was something mostly outside the home but, beginning with radio and then television broadcasting, entertainment has gradually taken over the home and, indeed, transformed its organization. Moreover, mass forms of communications like radio, television and cinema are themselves currently giving way to more personal forms of communication like the Internet. Smith sees entertainment moving off in two opposite directions: towards the "big spectacular communal experience" like Disney World on the one hand, and, on the other, towards solitary interaction on a computer. He believes it quite possible that a new generation will look no further than their computers for information and entertainment.
Smith sees entertainment itself becoming more central to culture and society because people will have increasingly more leisure time. Although high tech advances have been made in the world of information exchange, science, commerce, industry and defense, Smith believes entertainment is crucial to the forms that new technology will take and the uses to which they will be put. As Smith pointedly says, "the entertainment industry, alongside the health industry, is as close as any other to the things that people actually want and are willing to pay for."
Anyone interested in the Internet or the effect of high technology on the arts, culture, and entertainment will find this book fascinating. As we navigate our way through the Information Age, this study should help us to understand it.show more