5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
William Timothy Lukeman
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
While there have been several excellent books about the effects of the digital age on human concentration & depth of thought -- Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows" remains the benchmark, I think -- this particular book by a writer on the cusp of this immense change in human experience speaks quite effectively about one major aspect: the loss of empty time & space, the absence where contemplation & reflection take place, where experience is slowly transmuted into richer Being.
Author Michael Harris certainly is no stranger to the delights of digital distraction -- in speaking of his month away from connection, the necessity of wearing a watch is hopelessly old-fashioned to him -- but he's just old enough to remember life before the digital age, when there was plenty of open, free, undistracted time, without incessant interruptions & updates. More importantly, there was no need for them, no addictive craving for what constitutes the water in which we all swim now.
Certainly this transformation hasn't been all bad, as evidenced by the ability to share our thoughts on this book right here, for instance. But looking back on previous information upgrades, we can see that the same promises were made about them as well. Edward R. Murrow first saw television as "a university of the airwaves" -- and now we've got "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" & "Real Housewives" & "Duck Dynasty" providing very different life lessons to the masses. Cable TV was going to provide a niche for everything, as was satellite TV, and then streaming -- but we've got 1000+ channels showing the same 40 or 50 popular movies, bad sitcom reruns, and (un)reality shows galore; the brief flowering of arts channels is long gone, and even PBS is horribly dumbed down. And what are digital devices used for most? Porn, self-promotion, and brain-dead trivia.
More than that, though -- Harris points out that as we outsource our skills to devices, we lose those skills ourselves. A common phrase these days: "Why do I have to know that? I can just Google it." And of course we can. Yet knowing how to find a fact is not the same as knowing it, both for itself & for its place in a larger context. What we have in fact is "knowledge" that covers the globe but is thinner than tissue paper -- and is just as easily torn.
So why 4 & 1/2 stars instead of 5? Because of a personal caveat. Harris repeatedly states that technology is neither good or bad in itself. I disagree -- as Jerry Mander pointed out nearly 40 years ago, all technology embodies its own agenda from the start. For example, the internal combustion engine not only means swifter travel, but also means the importance of oil, the rise of corporate monopolies, the national policies based on maintain those monopolies. Whatever the best intentions of some, anything that changes the world & generates both profits & power has an ethical, moral component. A technology can't just be considered as neutral, not in a specific culture & worldview. In this, I feel Harris is short-sighted.
Still, that's just a caveat. The book is a fine introduction to the issues at hand, and should send the reader to further books on the subject. My final thought: the glittering digital future is predicated on power & infrastructure remaining whole & functioning. But as the world runs out of renewable resources, and the population continues to grow, what happens when the machine stops (to reference E. M. Forster's prescient novella of 100 years ago)? If & when that happens, those who've hung onto supposedly obsolete skills will be in a far better position than those who've surrendered their souls to their devices.
Highly recommended to the thoughtful reader!