Book Recommendation


Coming as a strong recommendation for any fellow independent futurists, Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget is a self-proclaimed manifesto decrying the current trends of web culture and how they are devaluing the definition of the person. While not strictly concerned with the kind of futuristic material dealt with here at Manifest Future, I mention it because Lanier agrees with my own argument that the vital trait of individuality is threatened by today’s technology. The book’s simplistic writing and easily digestible chapters tamper the outlandish claims made throughout the book (like the idea of paying for creative content and reorganizing the digital economy). Choice quotes follow:

“You can belive that your mind makes up the world, but a bullet will still kill you. A virtual bullet, however, doesn’t even exist unless there is a person to recognize it as a representation of a bullet. Guns are real in a way that computers are not.” (27)

“Humans are free. We can commit suicide for the benefit of a Singularity. We can engineer our genes to better support an imaginary hive mind. We can make culture and journalism into second-rate activities and spend centuries remixing the detritus of the 1960s and other eras from before individual creativity went out of fashion.” (44)

“Are we building the digital utopia for people or machines? If it’s for people, we have a problem.” (87)

“Some other examples are the iPhone, the Pixar movies, and all the other beloved successes of digital culture that involve innovation in the result as opposed to the ideology of creation. In each case, these are personal expressions. True, they often involve large groups of collaboratos, but there is always a central visions – a Will Wright, a Steve Jobs, or a Brad Bird conceiving the vision and directing a team of people earning salaries”. (132)

Preview on Google Books

Buy on Amazon

And be sure to check out Lanier’s rebellious and hilariously regressive website.

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