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Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology Paperback – March 31, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0679745402 ISBN-10: 0679745408 Edition: 1st

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Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology + Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business + The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st edition (March 31, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679745408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679745402
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Neil Postman is one of the most level-headed analysts of education, media, and technology, and in this book he spells out the increasing dependence upon technology, numerical quantification, and misappropriation of "Scientism" to all human affairs. No simple technophobe, Postman argues insightfully and writes with a stylistic flair, profound sense of humor, and love of language increasingly rare in our hastily scribbled e-mail-saturated world.

From Publishers Weekly

Mixing provocative insights and cliched criticisms, Postman defines the U.S. as a society in which technology is deified to a near-totalitarian degree.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Neil Postman was chairman of the department of communication arts at New York University. He passed away in 2003.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

154 of 158 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on September 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
I love technology. I tell you this, even though it must be obvious to you considering where these words are appearing. I love technology, but I'm not blind to its problems. To those who say technology has no faults, I ask you when was the last time your computer crashed or whatever happened to that grand notion of a "paperless office"? Technology is something between Pandora's box and Prometheus' gift; I would not want to live without it because I've read history, but I can also imagine an even better world.
Neil Postman may or may not love technology, but he certainly knows its failings. Postman is the author of several books on the interplay between American culture and technology, and his most recent, Technopoly, is in some ways a culmination of his previous efforts. Postman is an educator who is distressed by the state of American education. Instead of simply decrying the fact that schools are changing and moaning for a return to the "good ol' days," Postman took the time to understand the nature of the beast, dissect it, and present his conservation strategy. As he states, his idea of getting "back to the basics" is not quite the same as that typically bandied about by politicians and policy makers.
First, the argument. Postman describes what he calls the three stages of how a culture deals with technology: 1) tool-using, 2) technocracy, 3) technopoly. In a tool-using culture, technical improvements are limited to the uses at hand. This differs from the technocracy, where the tools "play a central role in the thought world of the culture." In the technopoly, tools become the culture. Astute readers may sense a possible linkage here with Alvin Toffler's three waves of culture detailed in The Third Wave.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By B. Freeman on August 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
I heard Neil Postman on a radio interview for this book, several years before I read "Amusing Ourselves to Death," which I consider a better book. I went back and read Technopoly, because it is (for better or for worse) in many respects a classic in the field. After reading "Disappearance" and "Objections," I've found that Postman does a good job maintaining a basic premise or thesis throughout all of his books.
In technopoly, Postman offers an interesting perspective on those who would "gaze on technology as a lover does on his beloved," known as technophiles, and those who are on the other end of the spectrum, I'll call them technocritics. This is a book that clearly defines the potential problems that we may incur if we blindly allow technology to answer society's most pressing questions.
As a quantitative researcher, who recognizes that a qualitative approach is sometimes necessary to tease out the richness of data (perhaps later to be empirically tested), I really enjoyed Postman's perspectives in the chapter titled "Scientism." In this chapter, and throughout the whole book, Postman included wonderful little vignettes: "Freud once sent a copy of one of his books to Einstein, asking for his evaluation of it. Einstein replied that he thought the book was exemplary but was not qualified to judge its scientific merit."
I see there are several other reviews, and so as not to make mine too long, let me end with this summation: Postman is a good writer and he's got lots of interesting threads of reasoning in this book. Not all of his arguments have a tremendous amount of backing, but you will gain valuable persepectives that you may not have thought of/about previously. From that standpoint, and the fact that his paperbacks aren't extremely expensive, I recommend adding it to your shopping basket.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on June 10, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is much to learn from this important book. Over the last two hundred years, both science & technology have rapidly & irrevocably changed the face of the earth. In the postindustrial world, we've banished infectious diseases from our midst (at least temporarily), have instituted public health & sanitation measures, and have made creature comfort a part of everyman's lifestyle. Yet, there is profound and widespread concern regarding exactly where technological innovation is taking us, what this mysterious journey will cost us in terms of a sustainable and palatable ecosystem, and exactly who (if anyone) is driving this huge and anonymous innovative juggernaut. This book deals provocatively with this issue; i.e. the promulgation of a culture in which science and technology have come to assume the pivotal role in our society.
Sociologist Max Weber warned almost 100 years ago of an alarming tendency in western civilization to displace our tradition-based religious cultural ethos with a dangerously superficial "faux" rationality in which all decisions and all measures would come to be made more and more exclusively by scientific and logical means. Yet science by its very nature cannot answer questions dealing with values, advising us as to what is right, or good, or best. It can only speak to us in terms of effective and efficient means to achieve such cultural values and social ends. It is this tension between a human-oriented cultural ethos, on the one hand, and scientific progress through technological innovation not so oriented on the other that is Mr. Postman's real subject.
Mr.
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