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am 12. Mai 2000
For anyone interested in exploring the meaning of the rapid eclipse of ordinary reality and how it is being changed and altered by the rise of the electronic media, this book is very important. From the introduction and Postman's tongue-in-cheek comments about the novel 1984, his observations regarding the cogency of British author Aldous Huxley's technotronic nightmare vision in "Brave New World" through out the book right up to its conclusion, Postman binds your interest by illustrating and documenting how the rise of the elecrtonic media and its manipulation of what you see in way of news and entertainment has inexorably changed the meanings,purposes and ultimate uses of politics, economics, and technology. As Huxley himslef warned, totalitarian societies need not arise through violent overthrow of the democracies using brutality, cruelty and violence, but can also occur whenever the citizenry is successfully deluded into apathy by petty diversions and entertainments, as well. Postman shows how the electronic media's presentation of facts and fcition in an entertaining fashion diverts us, channeling our attention, money, and energies in ways that make us much more susceptible to social, political and economic manipulation and eventual subjugation. The book is a bit difficult to read at points, but well worth a sustained effort and a little concentration. For any citizen concerned about how the media is rapidly changing the rules of political, social, and economic engagement, and what it portends for the future, this book is a must read. And follow it up with Postman's book "Technopoly", which picks up where this book leaves off.
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am 5. Januar 2000
Neil Postman's book 'Amusing Ourselves To Death' is an excellent look at the world today (more accurately in 1985). He explains that there is no need to fear George Orwell's vision of 1984, but rather to fear an older title of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. One which takes away freedom, the latter giving you all the freedom you want. Funny and witty, Postman gives a top rate analysis of the current media (second to McLuhan). I dont see this book as a prediction of any sort, but rather observing the direction the media of print and television is headed. Television has been given so much authority that it does not matter whats on it, so much that its on. Postman declares that television has the power to do away with books by the sheer hypnotic power that television has over print. And this, by being in a trance and reclining in our sofas to and forgetting about the world (and what the GOVT is doing) is just as fatal as the government getting involved in every aspect of our lives. This book is a nice read with some profoundness to it which will change your perspective on 1984, television and the way you live.
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am 28. Juni 1998
Like a previous reviewer, I've been skeptical about the effects of commercial television, radio, music, magz, etc on me for some time. If you feel manipulated by the pro-consumerist propaganda satiating our airwaves, but can't break your addiction to the entertainment, this title is for you. It helped me to develop a more accurate understanding of the effects of popular TV/Radio/Magz on my conciousness.
Postman succinctly reasons why mass media can be harmful to your health. He delves into the psychology behind the commercials and the bias of mediums, specifically typography vs, television. The short book(160+ pgs Penguin paperback) took me several months to finish because of its plethora of meticulously crafted ideas - many leaving behind mushroom clouds in my mind.
After reading this book, I decided to pick up Huxley's "Brave New World". If you haven't read it, check it out. Mustapha Mond would definitely have kept "Amusing Ourselves to Death" in his safe! And I'm not sure if TV/Radio etc is the "soma" or the "hypnopaedic conditioning" - or both. But, you definitely don't have to look 600 years into the future to see some traces of the issues he raises, such as mass media's homogenizing effect on society. Are we being Bokanovskified? Postman has hereby penned a survivors manual - coincidentally released in 1984, yet eschewing Orwell's prophecy in favor of Huxley's vision.
I hope that in a subsequent edition Postman addresses the epistimology of the burgeoning internet and its world wide web that may someday esnare us all just like TV.
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am 17. Januar 2000
What starts out as thought-provoking quickly becomes annoying. Postman certainly is well-versed in U.S. history. But to have to read page after page of unrestrained negativism over a vast array of technological advances since the invention of the telegraph becomes too much to bear.
Furthermore, while a reader in Year 2000 has the benefit of hindsight (the book was originally published in 1984), I really have to consider the development of the Web to fly in the face of Postman's assertions. Although, I'm sure he wouldn't mind whipping off another bitter final chapter to try to prove me wrong.
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am 4. Januar 2000
This is simply a superb book, a real "classic" in its field. The author's logic and his data are absolutely overwhelming. The only possible flaw is that it is based on data 2 decades old. For a current update on the data and research in this field I would also strongly recommend Grossman & DeGaetano's "Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill," which has the added benefit of addressing the impact of the new violent video games, and incorporating some interesting military data.
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am 9. Juli 1999
This book was required reading for a college course I took, Technology & Human Values. I wasn't too thrilled about having to read it at first because we were required to write a paper about it, but once I got started I COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN! I have never read a better book. I could have written forever about it in my review for class. This is one book I decided not to sell back. I recommend this "discourse" to everyone! ...it's just too bad that not EVERYONE will get to read it...
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am 26. Oktober 1997
The premise of Amusing Ourselves to Death is that the medium of television has injured and is injuring the ability of individuals and the culture as a whole to reason - - to think. Although the degree of injury is not quantified and is probably not quantifiable, it is evidenced in every area of human endeavor, from politics, news, education and religion. Postman observes that we are becoming "a culture in which all public discourse increasingly takes the form of entertainment." (1)
Postman compares the process of consuming and processing information in our culture to that of past, "print-based" cultures: "...the decline of a print-based epistemology and the accompanying rise of a television-based epistemology has had grave consequences for public life, that we are getting sillier by the minute." (24)
Postman discusses the overwhelming volume of information that is stripped of any contextual basis but is presented within a "pseudo-context." "A pseudo-context is a structure invented to give fragmented and irrelevant informaion a seeming use.... The pseudo-context is the last refuge, so to say, of a culture overwhelmed by irrelevance, incoherence, and impotence."(76)
In regard to our historical underpinnings, "...we are being rendered unfit to remember. For if remembering is to be something more than nostalgia, it requires a contextual basis - a theory, a vision, a metaphor - something within which facts can be organized and patterns discerned." "...with media whose structure is biased toward furnishing images and fragments, we are deprived of access to an historical perspective. In the absence of continuity and context, bits of information cannot be integrated into an intelligent and consistent whole."(137)
In short, this is one of the most brilliant books I have ever read. It should be required reading for every thinking American.
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am 4. September 1999
This book is not the easiest to read. Its ideas are fascinating, but the vocabulary can be a bit challenging at times. This book was required reading for an English class, and the discussions that stemmed from it were incredible. Postman address everything from politics to religion to education. This is a very interesting book, and it really makes you think about some of the things you do every single day.
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am 20. Juni 1999
Amusing ourselves to death should be required reading for every college student. It is a stimulating,eye opening book with tremendous insight of where we are and where we are going. What he is suggesting is taking place under our very noses and only a handful are noticing. This book is a wake up call, that should be addressed. Remember, George Orwell's 1984.
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am 29. November 1998
I must agree with some of the points that Mr. Postman makes in his book. I agree to some point that television has taken the place of some thought and idea. While this is true, television can also be very thought provoking. Some of my best ideas have come from television programs. I think that by not exploring all of the television media he does a disservice to this wonderful instrument. Educational shows such as Sesame Street and other wonderful productions that many generations of children have grown up with and have proven to be helpful with developing critical skills is not appropriate. The book seems to be connecting many of the changes in our society to the advancement of technology. I feel that not everything in society can be connected to change. Change is an inevitable part of our world, good or bad. While many people would like to hold on to the past, we all know it simply is not possible. If the book had less focus on this, its message would be much clearer.
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