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Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 22, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Mr. Siegel is a zigzagging cultural omnivore…a confrontational enthusiast… an expert demolisher of critical group-think.”
--New York Observer
“One of the country’s most eloquent and acid-tongued cultural critics.”
-Deborah Solomon, New York Times
“To read him is to be reminded of what criticism used to aspire to in terms of range, learning, high standards, and good writing and--dare one say it?--values.”
-- David Rieff
“Savor his vigorous prose, and prepare to be surprised.”
“In every case, Siegel is wildly and satisfyingly unpredictable.”
"One of the heroic few."
-- The Guardian
Top Customer Reviews
In "Thus Spoke Zarathustra," the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: "Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming. The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race is as ineradicable as the flea, Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse. . . . 'We have invented happiness,' say the last men, and they blink."
Siegel believes this "brave new world" is now: On the Internet, he asserts, "you must sound more like everyone else than anyone else is able to sound like everyone else." Such a vapid transvaluation of values, he asserts, has disastrous effects on our culture, our politics, and our psyches.
The Internet, says Siegel, creates a surreal virtual reality "where the rhetoric of democracy, freedom, and access is often a fig leaf for antidemocratic and coercive rhetoric; where commercial ambitions dress up in the sheep's clothing of humanistic values; and were, ironically, technology has turned back the clock from disinterested enjoyment of high and popular art to a primitive culture of crude, grasping self-interest."
In this strange, upside-down world, talent, expertise, and originality have been replaced by popularity, genuine knowledge has been crowded out by information overload, and true democracy has been undermined by the creation of solipsistic egos isolated from social and political structures and vulnerable to demagogic lies and deceit.Read more ›
The overall tone of this book by disgraced former New Republic editor and blogger Lee Siegel is of a personal critique against the twinning of digital environments and commerce. Some of its best points are made when Siegel demonstrates his capacity to think deeply on the issues he is concerned about. Sadly, these parts of the book are rare and for this reason, among others, this book is not for use by serious scholars of digital ontology or of the consequences of the digitization of human life.
The book raises interesting points about the performance of privacy online, the rise of the importance of information for its own sake and the popularity contest that is the blogosphere. However, the often snarky tone and rather blatant one-sided presentations leech Mr. Siegel's arguments of their ability to make a difference in the discourse of what the Internet's impacts are now and for the future. The most egregious problem the book has is its reification of its topic center. Mr. Siegel writes about "The Internet" as if the global digital network were a single person, with independent volition and agency. He blames the Internet for several consequences of 21st century life, forgetting as he does so that the larger western culture is the real root and agent of those issues.Read more ›
* He gets off to a bad start in the introduction, where he points out that motor vehicle fatalities in the 1960s reached 50,000 per year, but that "people stopped dying on the road in staggering numbers" when automakers became "safety-conscious." Except that in 2007, over 41,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes. How is 50,000 deaths "staggering" but 41,000 acceptable?
* Mr. Siegel writes, "Ten years ago, the space in a coffeehouse abounded in experience. Now that social space has been contracted into isolated points of wanting..." I'm not sure where the author hangs out, but my local cafes and restaurants practically roar with the sound of conversation.
* The author makes considerable criticism of Bill Gates. He conveniently avoids mentioning the thousands of lives that have been saved through the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
* Mr. Siegel hates the distribution of pornography online. Fair enough, I'm not wild about it either. But he makes a simplistic argument that avoids First Amendment complexities. He also brazenly writes, "...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Doesn't even deserve one star. Don't buy his books. He's cheating you and me and everyone else by not paying his student loans. Just Google it.Published 3 months ago by LegalSkeptic
I purchased this book, used from a local flea market for 25 cents. I did not read it. I purchased it in order to let my dog rip it to pieces in a matter of minutes becasue the... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Rogue
This fellow doesn't seem to be living in the same world I do ... and then I read he also lives in New Jersey. Author has disconnected viewpoint, removed from reality.Published 12 months ago by Sharon, Book Reader
This book us nothing we do not already know about the new media.Published 13 months ago by John Maria
This book is awful and so is the author. Just read an article in the NY Times in which he brags about defaulting on his student loans. What a leech!Published 13 months ago by J M W
You shouldn't buy this book, you should steal it the way Mr. Siegel brags about stealing his education. The rest of us pay for defaulting scum like Mr. Siegel.Published 13 months ago by whatwhat
Who better to guide us through the perils of the Internet age than a notorious troll and shameless sock puppet? Read morePublished 13 months ago by Remus
I have come to use the internet as a vehicle of information transmission. lee Siegel's latest cause is the high price of student loans. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Dusty Rhodes
Who would dare to question the Internet, and its capacity to equalize everyone and promote true democracy? Read morePublished 19 months ago by LFD