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You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto [Rauer Buchschnitt] [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Jaron Lanier
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Kurzbeschreibung

12. Januar 2010
Jaron Lanier, a Silicon Valley visionary since the 1980s, was among the first to predict the revolutionary changes the World Wide Web would bring to commerce and culture. Now, in his first book, written more than two decades after the web was created, Lanier offers this provocative and cautionary look at the way it is transforming our lives for better and for worse.

The current design and function of the web have become so familiar that it is easy to forget that they grew out of programming decisions made decades ago. The web’s first designers made crucial choices (such as making one’s presence anonymous) that have had enormous—and often unintended—consequences. What’s more, these designs quickly became “locked in,” a permanent part of the web’s very structure.

Lanier discusses the technical and cultural problems that can grow out of poorly considered digital design and warns that our financial markets and sites like Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter are elevating the “wisdom” of mobs and computer algorithms over the intelligence and judgment of individuals.

Lanier also shows:
How 1960s antigovernment paranoia influenced the design of the online world and enabled trolling and trivialization in online discourse
How file sharing is killing the artistic middle class;
How a belief in a technological “rapture” motivates some of the most influential technologists
Why a new humanistic technology is necessary.

Controversial and fascinating, You Are Not a Gadget is a deeply felt defense of the individual from an author uniquely qualified to comment on the way technology interacts with our culture.

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Produktinformation

  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 224 Seiten
  • Verlag: Knopf; Auflage: 1 (12. Januar 2010)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0307269647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307269645
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 14,8 x 2,3 x 22,2 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3.8 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (4 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 9.908 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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Produktbeschreibungen

Pressestimmen

“A provocative and sure-to-be-controversial book . . . Lucid, powerful and persuasive. It is necessary reading for anyone interested in how the Web and the software we use every day are reshaping culture and the marketplace.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
“Important . . . At the bottom of Lanier’s cyber-tinkering is a fundamentally humanist faith in technology, a belief that wisely designed machines can bring us closer together by expanding the possibilities of creative self-expression . . . His mind is a fascinating place to hang out.”
—Ben Ehrenreich, Los Angeles Times
 
“Persuasive . . . [Lanier] is the first great apostate of the Internet era.”
—David Wallace-Wells, Newsweek
 
“Thrilling and thought-provoking . . . A necessary corrective in the echo chamber of technology debates. You Are Not a Gadget challenges many dominant ideologies and poses theoretical questions, the answers to which might start with one bright bulb, but depend on the friction of engaged parties. In other words, Lanier is acting like a computer scientist. Let’s hope he is not alone.”
—John Freeman, San Francisco Chronicle
 
“A call for a more humanistic—to say nothing of humane—alternative future in which the individual is celebrated more than the crowd and the unique more than the homogenized . . . You Are Not a Gadget  may be its own best argument for exalting the creativity of the individual over the collective efforts of the ‘hive mind.’ It’s the work of a singular visionary, and offers a hopeful message: Resistance may not be futile after all.”
—Rich Jaroslovsky, Bloomberg.com
 
“Provocative . . . [Lanier] confronts the big issues with bracing directness . . . The reader sits up. One of the insider’s insiders of the computing world seems to have gone rogue.”
—Sven Birkerts, The Boston Globe
 
“Sparky, thought-provoking . . . This is good knockabout stuff, and Lanier clearly enjoys rethinking received tech wisdom: his book is a refreshing change from Silicon Valley’s usual hype.”
—Paul Marks, New Scientist
 
“Lanier’s detractors have accused him of Ludditism, but his argument will make intuitive sense to anyone concerned with questions of propriety, responsibility, and authenticity.”
The New Yorker
 
“Poetic and prophetic, this could be the most important book of the year. The knee-jerk notion that the net as it is being developed sets us free is turned on its head . . . Read this book and rise up against net regimentation!”
—Iain Finlayson, The Times (London)
 
“From crowd-sourcing to social networking and mash-ups, Lanier dismantles the tropes of the current online culture.”
—Bloomberg.com, “Five Top Business Books of 2010”
 
“Lanier asks some important questions . . . He offers thoughtful solutions . . . Gadget is an essential first step at harnessing a post-Google world.”
—Eli Sanders, The Stranger (Seattle)
 
“Lanier turns a philosopher’s eye to our everyday online tools . . . The reader is compelled to engage with his work, to assent, contradict, and contemplate. In this, Lanier’s manifesto is not just a success, but a meta-success . . . Lovers of the Internet and all its possibilities owe it to themselves to plunge into Lanier’s [You Are Not a Gadget] and look hard in the mirror. He’s not telling us what to think; he’s challenging us to take a hard look at our cyberculture, and emerge with new creative inspiration.”
—Carolyn Kellogg, Flavorwire
 
“Inspired, infuriating and utterly necessary . . . Lanier tells of the loss of a hi-tech Eden, of the fall from play into labour, obedience and faith. Welcome to the century’s first great plea for a ‘new digital humanism’ against the networked conformity of cyber-space. This eloquent, eccentric riposte comes from a sage of the virtual world who assures us that, in spite of its crimes and follies, ‘I love the internet.’ That provenance will only deepen its impact, and broaden its appeal.”
—Boyd Tonkin, The Independent (London)
 
“A must read for 2010.”
Library Journal
 
“Lanier’s fascinating and provocative full-length exploration of the Internet’s problems and potential is destined to become a must-read for both critics and advocates of online-based technology and culture . . . He brilliantly shows how large Web 2.0–based information aggregators such as Amazon.com—as well as proponents of free music file sharing—have created a ‘hive mind’ mentality emphasizing quantity over quality.”
Publishers Weekly
 
“Jaron Lanier’s long awaited book is fabulous—I couldn’t put it down. His is a rare voice of sanity in the debate about the relationship between computers and human beings. This is a landmark book that will have people talking and arguing for years into the future.”
—Lee Smolin, The Trouble with Physics
 
“This is the single most important book yet written about our increasingly digital world. It will be remembered either as the manifesto that rescued humanity from the brink of extinction, or as the last cogent missive from an obsolete species.”
—Douglas Rushkoff, author of Life Inc., Media Virus, and Cyberia
 
“In this sane and spirited critique of Internet dogma, Jaron Lanier also delivers a timely defense of the value of the individual human being.”
—Nicholas Carr, author of Does IT Matter? and The Big Switch
 
“Important . . . Highly relevant . . . An impassioned and original critique of what the digital world has become . . . A much-needed defence of the humanist values that are being trampled underfoot . . . If ever there was an answer to the question, ‘Who needs thinkers when you have Wikipedia?’, this book is surely it.”
—John Stones, Design Week (UK)

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Jaron Lanier is known as the father of virtual reality technology and has worked on the interface between computer science and medicine, physics, and neuroscience. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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Kundenrezensionen

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4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Empfehlenswert (mit Vorwarnung) 28. Januar 2012
Format:Taschenbuch
Jaron Lanier - dieser Name dürfte für den einen / anderen vor allem jüngeren Onliner nur einer unter vielen Namen sein, die man schon mal wo gehört hat. Als jemand, der sich schon recht früh mit Neuen Medien / Online beschäftigt hat, ist Jaron Lanier einer DER Gurus, der sich schon Ende der Achtziger / Anfang der Neunziger mit dem Virtual Reality beschäftigt hat und als einer der idealistischen Vordenker der Neuen Medien etabliert hatte. Man muss noch anmerken: Lanier versteht sich auch als Musiker / Künstler, seine Vorträge pflegt er mit einer Beigabe aus der Ude (einem mittelalterlichen Musikinstrument) zu garnieren. Zuerst habe ich von ihm in Stewart Brands "Media Lab" gelesen, das eines der drei Bücher ist, die mein Leben am nachhaltigsten beeinflusst haben.

Als ich gerade Lust hatte auf etwas Tiefgang, kam mir auf einem Büchertisch dieses Buch von Jaron Lanier unter die Finger. Und da musste ich zugreifen. Ich war also gespannt, was der alte Meister zu sagen hatte. Die Kernthesen:

- Es gibt im Silicon Valley eine Ideologie der Fortschrittsgläubigkeit, die in der "Cloud", "Information wants to be free" und in der "Crowd-wisdom" (oder Wikinomics) das Non-plus-ultra in den Onlinemedien sieht.
Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Aufforderung zur Nachdenklichkeit 30. Januar 2010
Von FrizzText HALL OF FAME REZENSENT
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Ja, Facebook oder Twitter sind meistenteils zu flach, youtube klaut den Musikern den Profit, in Foren tummelt sich manchmal eine miese Meute, höhnisch die Anonymität ausnutzend. Aber das Web 2.0 hat auch seine guten Seiten. Das weiß auch sein Mitbegründer Jaron Lanier. Zunächst hat es uns aus der Passivität des Fernseh-Konsums befreit. Mit Wikipedia ist ein sehr brauchbares Gemeinschaftswerk entstanden: Allerdings zeigt so ein digitaler Lexikon-Klotz nicht gerade die persönliche Handschrift eines Literaten oder Philosophen. So betont Lanier, dass es charakteristisch für kreative Menschen ist, sich einmal eine Weile zurückzuziehen, um in der gewonnenen Konzentration neue Projekte zu ersinnen. Sie können sich also nicht hetzen lassen von Quantitäts-Anforderungen oder von der ständig geforderten Präsenz, die den Platzerhalt sichert auf den vorderen Seiten von google oder ähnlichen Suchmaschinen. Da hat er mal wieder recht. Die zur Zeit bestehende Technologie ermöglicht anonyme Lynchjustiz in Foren (andere aber haben mittlerweile Moderatoren eingebaut, die das begrenzen). Das Prinzip, dass der jeweils neueste Eintrag zählt, verführt zur verflachenden Überproduktion. Es gibt aber auch Webseiten-Programmierungen, die den Vorrang der Chronologie aushebeln und nach anderen Kriterien sortieren. Es geht also darum, die Würde des schöpferischen, individuellen Menschen nicht unter die Räder der geschaffenen Betriebsamkeit kommen zu lassen. Was als epochale Chance begann, soll die Gesellschaften nicht in die Verdummung zerren. Ich denke, das kriegen wir schon hin, es sind genügend im Web 2.0 unterwegs, die mit Nachdenklichkeit zu Werke gehen - und sich zum Beispiel dieses Buch zu Herzen nehmen.
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1.0 von 5 Sternen In Teilen uninformiert und pauschal 3. Januar 2014
Von rezent
Format:Taschenbuch
Mir scheint der Autor ist in Teilen zu politisch motiviert und es fehlt ihm an Sachverstand. Im Speziellen ist seine Kritik an Linux und Wikipedia scheint ein gewisser Mangel an Verständnis zu Grunde zu liegen. Wikipedia wurde in diversen Rezessionen ein hohes Mass an Qualität bescheinigt, welches selbst komerzielle Werke wie die Enzyklopädia Britannica nicht erreichen. Linux und freeBSD sind in vielen Gebieten ein großer Innovationsmotor, selbst Betriebssysteme wie OSX basieren NEXTstep und somit auf freeBSD und machen erheblichen wirtschaftlichen Gewinn, genauso wie Novell dies mit SUSE tut. Kaum ein Internetbackbone würde ohne Linux auskommen. Hier pauschal zu behaupten Linux und Wikipedia seinen innovationsfeindlich oder gar Maoistisch scheint mir sehr oberflächlich.

---

I think the author aurguments are in part politically motivated and show little technical knowledge of the matter. Particularly, his criticism towards linux and wikipedia seems to be poorly motivated. Wikipedia has been distinguished in many reviews as equal in quality to the comercial encyclopedia Britannica. Linux and freeBSD have been driving innovations from file system development to security. Even proprietary operating systems like OSX which is based on NEXTstep and thus on freeBSD or Novell's SUSE are generating profits. There are view internet backbones that do not run Linux. To dismiss Linux and Wikipedia as thwarting innovation or even being "Digital Maoism" is in my opinion quite superficial.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen A critical take on Web 2.0: People first 14. Januar 2010
Von Michael A. Duvernois - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
"Technology criticism," the author writes, "should not be left to the Luddites." Jaron Lanier is certainly no Luddite, but in this "manifesto" he blasts the Web 2.0 mentality, highlights long-standing technology lock-ins, and ranges far and wide in his criticisms of the Internet, computing, and the cultures surrounding the two today.

The core of his argument is that the achievements of the Web 2.0 collaborations are neither exciting, nor new. "Let's suppose that, back in the 1980s, I had said, `In a quarter century, when the digital revolution has made great progress and computer chips are millions of times faster than they are now, humanity will finally win the prize of being able to write a new encyclopedia and a new version of UNIX!' It would," he writes, "have sounded utterly pathetic." He's referring to Wikipedia and Linux, two clear successes of collaborative construction. And furthermore, the intellectual work of those thousands of people have been undervalued, in fact, they're unpaid volunteers. The middle classes have spent their hours working without paid to build wonderful constructs for the profits of major companies. Hmmm...as I write this book review, unpaid, with Amazon looking to earn money from selling more copies of this book...

Ranging further across the Web 2.0 field, Jaron notes the Facebook and Myspace pages in their prescribed formats with individuals reduced to favorite books, movies, five options for politics, and six options for relationship status. Other parts look at technology lock-in, with the example of MIDI. It was developed in the early 1980s for keyboard synthesizer control and output, and reproduces the nuances of a keyboard but not, for example, a violin. It would be hard to get support for a new, broader tool. "A thousand years from now, when a descendant of ours is traveling at relativistic speeds to explore new star systems, she will probably be annoyed by some awful beepy MIDI-driven music to alert her that the antimatter filter needs to be recalibrated."

Well, I certainly don't agree with everything Jaron has to say, even if I do fondly recall the handmade (with blink tags) web pages from before the AOL deluge (the September without end) when the masses discovered the Internet. There's a lot of crap online, but then again, there's a lot of crap everywhere. I can happily share my family photos over Facebook with people who barely are computer literate, and still be critical of the silly lock-ins of the Facebook pages. Lanier is not a Luddite though, he doesn't want us to smash the digital world, but wants to criticize it to make it better. Nothing wrong with that, whether we agree with his criticism or not.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Thought provoking and worthy of your time. 15. Januar 2010
Von Robert Busko - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
In his book You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, Jaron Lanier becomes a solitary voice in the wilderness shouting as loudly as he can that all is not well with the virtual world nor with the tools that make the virtual world possible....software and computers. That this book was written by an insider from the world of the Internet should get everyone's attention.

Jaron Lanier is a household name for those who follow the world of computers and virtual reality and his book is nothing more than a manifesto warning us that there is a dark side to the Internet. Even innocuous websites such as Facebook and Google, "lords of the cloud" do not escape Lanier's expose. "Emphasizing the crowd means de-emphasizing individual humans" and that, in the end, leads to "mob" behavior. Utterly true.

As I flipped through the book, the point that resonated most loudly to me was the impact `anonymity' has had on our virtual world (and maybe the real world as well). I can remember visiting a chat room that was dedicated to "Books and Literature" in 2000 or 2001. As a librarian I was naturally drawn to a space that I thought would be filled with others like me who had a love of the written word and for good books. Did that assumption back fire? You bet! What I found was a chat area filled with virtual people who wanted to chat about anything but books and literature. If I were to post a question about what people were reading or what they thought of a given book I was torn (virtually) from limb to limb. Having served in the military I have a pretty good operational understanding of foul language, and I'm pretty good at throwing the words around when necessary. However, that this language would be used in that particular venue by people who could remain anonymous was a shock. I'm pretty certain that most of the visitors to that website hadn't read a book in years and had no problem violating the most basic rules of civility. Lanier is correct when he argues that this is not a step in the right direction. (Please forgive this personal observation)

Obviously I'm a fan of the virtual world. I post reviews online for free (which is another point Lanier makes) but the joy isn't the posting of reviews but in reading the books; real books. What Lanier has to say should be of interest to all of us.

You Are Not a Gadget is written for the ordinary reader with a minimal background in computers. Lanier floats from idea to idea not necessarily fully exploring a point, but instead simply raising an issue and then moving on. Very effective!

I predict that You Are Not a Gadget is destined to become a cultural icon in the future. We now point to books such as Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and I'm Ok, You're Ok by Dr. Thomas Harris as books that changed society and altered the future. I suspect that You Are Not a Gadget may become that type of sign post.

I highly recommend.

Peace always.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen You are a fluke of the universe. Take full advantage of it. 30. Januar 2010
Von David Wineberg - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
What Jaron Lanier does is take us up 50,000 feet and allow us to view things with perspective. He says we have been overwhelmed by the unnoticed "lock-in" and simply adjust and reduce ourselves to fit the requirements of online dating, social media, forums, and the software we employ. Web 2.0 is homogenizing humanity, taking us down to the lowest common denominator instead of allowing or encouraging us to bloom in different directions. Everything we now "enjoy" seems to be backward looking - music is sampled and retro, news is criticized mercilessly, but very few are creating it any more, relationships are Tweets...

It sounds like Lanier recommends friends don't let friends communicate via Facebook - they do it on the phone or in person. But the direction we are taking instead reduces interaction, kills creativity, journalism, music, science....it's not as pretty as predicted.

These are truly valuable criticisms, and this is an important, if flawed book. Flawed because after a hundred page pounding of logic and evidence, Lanier spends the second hundred pages telling us how wonderful it is to be a scientist and play with humans and cuttlefish. I was particularly annoyed with a gratuitous couple of paragraphs devoted to swearing, which which he says might be connected to parts of the brain controlling orifices and obscenity.

Well, to my knowledge, swearing is purely cultural, not physiological. In Quebec, the worst swearing is against the Catholic Church, Translated into English "Christ Tabernacle" sounds like something WC Fields said to skirt the censors. But it's the most vile thing you can say in polite conversation in Montreal. On the other hand Motherf----r doesn't translate into French at all. And what's any of this got to do with online reductionism? Zilch - is my point. The last 100 pages is full of such diversions.

Others have pointed to other sections they disagree with, and they all seem to occur in the last half of the book. But don't let that deter you, as it distracted him. The original message is important. People create. Software does not. Software restricts. Don't leave anonymous contributions. Build a creative website of your own design. Probe deeply and uniquely - beyond Wikipedia. Reflect before you blog.

Lanier says our humanity and creativity are being put at risk by the miasma foisted on us by the incredible leveling machine of the internet. Instead of becoming exciting, the internet has become boring. Instead of creating new music, it has assassinated the entire industry. Instead of bringing people together, it lets them off the hook. That's worth exploring, and for about 100 pages, Lanier does a grand job of it.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen one of the best books in a long while 15. Januar 2010
Von Mark bennett - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This is a very interesting book. Its a critique of the "internet culture" which has up until now been mostly beyond challenge. The author hits exactly on the key problems of the culture: Collectivism, mob mentality, conformity and the marginalization of the individual. He also hits upon the problem that small decisions made by individuals can lock people into mindsets or patterns of behavior.

Its an excellent book in highlighting the problems of the era. But it doesn't really provide any easy answers about how to change things. And the unfortunate truth is that many of the problems are less to do with technology than human nature.

The joke of "free" software is that it isn't "free" at all. It always comes with a licence agreement which spells out that duties of the individual to the "collective". The innovation of Linux and its licence over the works that had preceeded it was that any additions to Linux belonged to the collective. An individual can't ever own anything.

Wikipedia is even worse. Want to create your own facts or history? Create a web-page where you say something about a particular subject, then quote the webpage as the source for what you want to say on Wikipedia. Suddenly your web page is the equal of any scholarship in the whole of human history.

In pointing to the growth of mob mentality across society and the accompanying anti-intellectual climate, the author has hit upon *the* key philosophical issue in the new century. This is important and necessary book that deserves to be read.

=====

While my review remains positive, I want to point out one major problem in the book. The account of events on p. 125-126 is full of misinformation and errors. The LISP machine in retrospect was a horrible idea. It died because the RISC and MIPS CPU efforts on the west coast were a much better idea. Putting high-level software (LISP) into electronics was a bad idea.

Stallman's disfunctional relationship with Symbolics is badly misrepresented. Stallman's licence was not the first or only free software licence. Where stallman was unique was in that his licenses are more about enforcing the rights of the collective and claiming the work of others than anything to do with making things free. And often the growth of the so-called culture was being driven by personal feuds with the BSD community, with Symbolics and with anyone who dared touch the holy EMACS editor. Much of the time, the so-called movement seemed more about picking fights and asserting control than anything to do with makings things free.

And the irony of Linus Torvalds is that he didn't follow in their footsteps. Stallman and company were driven by flawed collectivism into a massive failed project known as "Hurd". Linus was successful in that he brought an individualist mindset, a simple set of ideas and the ability to get along with other people to his effort. Linux isn't that way anymore, but the reasons that Linux (with no reasources) was successful and the Hurd (with huge resources) was a massive failure presents a case study in how collectivism fails.

There have been any number of massive collectivist failures. To list a few: The OSI networking protocols, the ADA programming language, The first generation of microkernel operating systems, OSF/1 (and the OSF in general), any number of initiatives at the IETF.... Things that have tended to be successful over time are things that grew up in secret.

And calling Linux an "antique" was really strange as is the idea that it represents a 1970s mindset. The fact is that all kinds of people have tried new radical designs for operating systems since the 1980s and they have all generally been dismal failures (like Hurd from GNU). And the fact is, many people who worked on such things discovered over time that investing creativity at the lower levels of the system was generally a bad idea. Abstract entities were best created at the higher levels of systems where hardware and operating system would stay out of the way as much as possible.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Coming Down of Great Expectations 26. Februar 2010
Von Kevin Currie-Knight - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The first thing that must be said about Jaron Lanier's "You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto" is that it a very intricate book, full of several different arguments and lines of thought. It might be best to say that it is a manifesto containing several submanifestos. His arguments against the current directions in "web 2.0" technology are many and multifaceted, taking us through questions of the effectiveness of capitalism, how culture evolves, whether there can really be "wisdom in crowds," and even the nature of what "human" is.

If we have to sum up the book into an overall point or argument, here's how I'd do it: web technology, which was hoped to lead to vigorous innovation and individualization, has done precisely the opposite. On the consumption side, the idea of the "wisdom of crowds" has made the group (Lanier says "hive mind") more important and more "real" than voices of individuals. On the production side, the internet has led less to innovative production than to the recycling of old ideas in new forms, while making it hard for inventors/pioneers to make a living being creative. (Yes, I know I am missing some things in this description but, as mentioned, Lanier's work is very hard to sum up with concision.)

Lanier believes that there are two big reasons for this. First, we are not using our conception of humanity to drive how we shape technology so much as we are allowing technology to shape how we define humanity. A shining example is our faith in the "wisdom of crowds" as exemplified by our increasing obsession with all things wiki. Lanier reminds us that, in reality, there is no such "wisdom in crowds" because crowds are simply collections of individuals making individual decisions. (I would also add that "wisdom of crowds" is a literal impossibility as wisdom can only happen embodied in a point-of-view, of which a crowd has none.)

Secondly, Lanier believes that innovation may be lagging behind expectations because of our belief in the "information wants to be free" model. Yes, this has benefits, like offering information in a way that is accessible to...well...most. But it has the disadvantage of removing the incentives provided by markets out of a market. Lanier often uses the example of music and art: it was thought that the internet would allow more artists to make livings off of their art by removing the middle-men and allowing artists direct access to consumers. But with so much free content and exponentially increased competition, it is becoming even harder for artists to (a) get noticed in the milieu and (b) make a living off of their creativity.

While Lanier does not directly champion capitalism (he does contemplate its goods and bads), I think it is fair to argue that Lanier is championing a market system as the surest spur to innovation. Here, I must quote him directly: ""Why are so many of the more sophisticated examples of code in the online world - like the page-rank algorithm in the top search engines or like Adobe's Flash - the results of proprietary development? Why did the adored iphone come out of what many regarded as the most closed, tyrannically managed software - development shop on earth? An honest empiricist must conclude that while the open approach has been able to create lovely, polished copies, it hasn't been so good at creating notable originals." Lanier is not against the open source movement (think Youtube) altogether, but does present good pragmatic arguments as to why it is severely limited.

In a book so rich and varied, I certainly can't say I agree with everything Lanier puts forth. One of the major criticisms I have of the book is that while Lanier sees the internet's failure to meet expectations as a problem with the internet, he never blames the expectations. By example, Lanier bemoans the fact that much music created in the past 15 years (with technology) hasn't been wholly innovative, as he thought it would be. But I would remind him that such whole-cloth innovation has always been rare. Jazz, he says, was innovative, as were the Bealtes experiments with multi-track recording. Why nothing like that now? Well, Jazz used the same musical forms and concepts of Dixieland before it and ragtime before that. And the Beatles multitrack experiments didn't sound THAT different from the rock and roll which preceded it. Similarly, Lanier bemoans the fact that Wikipedia is simply the combination of the existing ideas of the encyclopedia and usenet. Okay, but couldn't it just be that the encyclopedia and usenet were such good ideas, that combining them is better than scrapping them and inventing from whole-cloth? Long and short, Lanier expected the type of whole-cloth invention out of the internet that never really existed before the internet.

There are several other areas where I think Lanier's arguments are weak (and several places where I think he argues against "straw man" positions held by only a few). I will not get into them as this isn't the place. What I will say is that I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. Even though I am sure everyone will find areas of agreement AND disagreement with Lanier, every reader will think very deeply as a result of what he writes. He is neither a luddite nor a techno-utopian, neither a reductionist or a mysterian, and neither a techno-anarchist or techno-Maoist. But he is a challenging thinker who deserves to be thought about.
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