In his new book, correctly subtitled – A Manifesto, Jaron Lanier presents a lucid and intelligent, if not a bit nostalgic, critic of the current state of the internet and namely all of the collaborative, groupthink technology that has come to be known by the sweeping title of Web 2.0. In You Are Not A Gadget, Lanier argues that these technologies and thus the ways that we use and even think about the internet have the potential to become “locked-in” and tragically unchangeable going forward. Why is that bad you ask? Lanier, who may look like a complete hippy but is far from a Luddite and has worked at the forefront of the digital technology since the wild and wholly 90’s, argues that those who now run the computer industry and thus design how the net is build and used ultimately value the logic of machines over the intelligence and creativity of human beings and that much of the 2.0 technology is ultimately dehumanizing and brings out the worst in human behavior (spend time in any anonymous online forum to easily find evidence of this), watering down our creativity, spirituality, and culture into a big grey collective goop. It would take someone a whole lot smarter than me to know if Lanier is right or not, but his argument is well constructed and I believe anyone interested in technology and modern life will enjoy reading this.
You Are Not A Gadget