The great irony of the high-tech age is that we've become enslaved to devices that were supposed to give us freedom. That's why in High Tech/High Touch
, John Naisbitt decided to revisit a chapter from Megatrends
, his 1982 bestseller, in which he discussed the split between high tech and what he dubbed "high touch."
We all know what high tech is--these are the technologies that "make us available 24 hours a day, like a convenience store," Naisbitt writes. He says we live in a "technologically intoxicated zone," the symptoms of which include a continual search for quick fixes and lives that are "distanced and distracted." High touch, on the other hand, is the stuff we give up when we're tuned in to the technological world: hope and fear and longing, love and forgiveness, nature and spirituality. To discover where the twain shall meet, Naisbitt takes us on a journey that includes Celebration, Florida, the Disney-created community that was fully wired from the get-go; Martha Stewart, who shows people with complicated lives how to enjoy simple tasks like gardening; extreme sports and adventure travel, in which ordinary people expose themselves to the full fury of nature and gravity. And that's all just the first quarter of the book; Naisbitt goes on to look at how video games desensitize children to violence; the challenges the human genome project presents to religion and spirituality; and, finally, "specimen art," in which artists create disturbing images of life, death and human sexuality.
There's no conclusion, in the traditional sense, only a look at what's happening in our world. But the reader will probably take some sort of action after finishing High Tech/High Touch: switching off the cell phone for a few hours a day; permanently locking away the children's violent Nintendo games; maybe even booking a vacation at the most remote location possible. Anything to get away from the constant buzz of a wired world. --Lou Schuler
From Publishers Weekly
What do Martha Stewart, genetically cloned sheep and the scandalous Piss Christ artist Andres Serrano have in common? They're all manifestations of "high tech/high touch," an unwieldy concept pulled from Naisbitt's bestselling 1982 Megatrends and here dusted off as a cautionary paradigm for the technologically addled 1990s. Written collaboratively with Naisbitt's daughter, Nana, with additional help from artist Douglas Philips, the book draws on Naisbitt's indefatigable research techniques to spot trends in newspapers, television shows, magazines and the Internet. Naisbitt is concerned with the conundrums that technology has presented to American culture. Children soak up violence from video games like Redneck Rampage, while the specter of eugenics looms over the burgeoning biotech industry. A final section lightens the cautionary tone of much of this book, delivering an eloquent survey of artists who are probing the ethical questions raised by evolving medical practices. Naisbitt sees Americans trapped in what he calls a "Technology Intoxication Zone," and he urges people to unplug their laptops long enough to rediscover the simplicity of starry nights and snowfallsAand remember what it means to be human. Naisbitt at least raises questions about the effects of technology on culture and the spirit that the authors of The Long Boom (reviewed above) seem to think are a waste of valuable bandwidth. $125,000 ad/promo; 7-city author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.