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Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture and Politics of Information Paperback – June, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers; First Edition edition (June 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872862992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872862999
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,076,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 15, 1996
Format: Paperback
Editors Brook and Boal have compiled an excellent collection
of essays about computers and their broad impact on society.
At times depressing and uplifting, this book is required reading
for anyone who is a serious student of computer culture and
its implications on our modern society. Many academics contribute,
so the text at times takes on an elitist air (in one essay, it
really helps to know French), but then again the book not intended
for a general audience. Luddites and computer enthusiasts both
should read this fine book, a welcome dose of reality after
the ceaseless hoopla that surrounds the Internet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lee A. Carleton on May 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
In an age of continuous cyber-hype, Boal collects a set of essays that take a rare critical look at technology foregrounding its hidden history, assumptions and impact. Far from rejecting technology altogether, these authors urge radically democratic engagement with technology. Though over ten years old, this text remains insightful and prescient, particularly in their warnings about corporate monopolization of media. Published by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the essays are challenging but delightfully full of helpful metaphors and enlightening connections to history, philosophy, sociology, psychology, art and pop culture. HIGHLY recommended for the thinking cybernaut.
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