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You are Not a Gadget

February 21, 2012

This was a post that I finished weeks ago that for some reason did not post in my blog.  Fortunately, it was saved as a draft.  This should be my third post:

 

This week, I began reading the book You are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier.  The book had an overly negative attitude towards technology.  Lanier essentially argued that humans are losing their freedom and human qualities by succumbing to a formulaic type of behavior.  This behavior is driven by technology, because certain websites such as Facebook and Twitter dictate a certain format for writing.  I disagree with his assertions.  Just because there is a structure to how humans publish their thoughts or feelings doesn’t make them any less human.  I found myself wondering what Lanier had against technology despite being a programmer himself.  Lanier made it a point to say he was not biased against technology, although that is totally unbelievable based on his obviously negative tone in the book.  He was complaining about absolutely absurd issues, and he gave extreme examples to support his anti-technology sentiments.

 

I find that this book is interesting, yet Lanier’s logic is flawed in many instances.  Being a student at an engineering school during an era of technological development, perhaps I am biased as well.  However, I would be more receptive to a more neutral opinion of how technology is affecting the world we live in.  To an extent, I can understand some of Lanier’s concerns about technology dehumanizing us, but he makes it seem like there are no advantages to this technology.  For example, Facebook, although formulaic in its layout, has helped connect millions of people throughout the world with old friends and family.  Lanier does not focus on these advantages, and instead chooses to point out only the flaws.  This book is very frustrating to read for the sole reason that Lanier does not give credit where it is due and instead chooses to focus on negative aspects of technology.  Hopefully the tone of the book becomes more neutral, because I find myself disagreeing with Lanier and writing his theories off as ludicrous because of my personal feelings towards his biased style of writing.

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2 Comments
  1. Lanier himself appears to have a very cynically biased viewpoint of new technology, and appears to show some sort of fear of change. His book tries to sensationalize all of the aspects of the internet he feels are negative, and to ignore or give credit in the form of passing acknowledgement to the positive aspects.

  2. I think that Lanier seems very bitter toward technological innovation, and I too was frustrated while reading the beginning of the book. His argument does not provide any reason to believe that technology is essential to our society, but rather that it will soon be controlling of our society. I think he is overly paranoid of the long-term effects of technology and is not willing to admit the benefits that it has offered.

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