From Publishers Weekly
In this treatise on the current information explosion, the authors question the implications of technological alienation. Its academic language may disappoint readers who expect the jargon common to other books on the subject. But the points presented here are important and will leave readers wondering if the information age is an advancement or simply a flashier means of oppression. The authors point out that corporations will surely use the new technologies for their own ends, and many of the essays suggest strategies to resist this control. The collection is divided into four sections covering various social and political aspects of the new information thoroughfares. In "It's Discrimination, Stupid!" Oscar H. Gandy Jr. explores the issues of privacy. "Soldier, Cyborg, Citizen" by Kevin Robins and Les Levidow examines the hybrid nature of the "cyborg," a "machine-like self" able to remove himself from the consequences of his actions. Doug Henwood negates the promises of opportunity in "Info Fetishism" by exposing a future joblessness caused by smart machines. In "Reading and Writing with Borges," James Brook defends an endangered commodity, the book, arguing that it will likely survive the latest threat to abolish print materials. Though the contributors are of varied backgrounds, they share a healthy skepticism about the grandiose claims of those pushing for a virtual world.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This well-reasoned and sobering anthology tempers some of the hoopla we are incessantly bombarded with by such computer boosters as Nicholas Negroponte (Being Digital
). Unlike Clifford Stoll's scattershot second thoughts on the direction the info highway is taking us (Silicon Snake Oil
), the sentiments expressed here are pointed, provocative, and downright chilling. In the 21 essays and interviews, the writers address some hard questions: who ultimately benefits from this mad rush to the latest in automation; and what are the consequences of using this new-fangled technology? Herbert Schiller, while distrustful of government authority over the information highway, is even more suspicious and fearful of private, commercial control. Oscar Gandy expresses serious concerns over our loss of control over personal information. E. A. Ullman provides a rare female engineer's perspective on the "teen-age-boy puerile" culture of engineers. R. Dennis Hayes examines such occupational hazards as repetitive-stress injuries. And Rebecca Solnit presents a brief history of Silicon Valley. We are becoming alienated from our surroundings and even our bodies as we contribute to our own obsolescence as social beings, they write. Highly recommended. Benjamin Segedin