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Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology Hardcover – May 26, 2015

4.2 out of 5 stars 46 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"High-tech insider Kentaro Toyama's compulsively readable manifesto will change minds about all those new technological quick-fixes for poverty. From previous claims for radio and TV to today's claims for broadband, he convincingly shows that technological solutions are neither so new nor so quick. Technology does not solve problems; people do, Toyama reminds us. He balances his refreshing skepticism about technological utopias with inspiring faith in the motivation and creativity of human beings."
--William Easterly, professor of economics, NYU, and author of The Tyranny of Experts

"Everyone from field staff and managers to researchers and funders will benefit from his unique perspective; geeks and non-geeks, alike. Finally, we have a book that can help temper our technology addiction with an approach guided by critical thought and practical application."--Trina Gorman, Monitoring and Evaluation consultant

"If you find yourself even remotely optimistic about technology and development, you should read this book." -- Chris Blattman, Associate Professor of Political Science & International and Public Affairs at Columbia University

"It is notable... when a techie insider steps outside the tent to chastise his tribe at book length -- and has the gall to both criticize and dedicate the book to his former boss, Bill Gates." -- Anand Giridharadas, The New York Times

From the Inside Flap

After a decade designing technologies meant to address education, health, and global poverty, award-winning computer scientist Kentaro Toyama came to a difficult conclusion: Even in an age of amazing technology, social progress depends on human changes that gadgets can't deliver.

Computers in Bangalore are locked away in dusty cabinets because teachers don't know what to do with them. Mobile phone apps to spread hygiene practices in Africa fail to improve health. Executives in Silicon Valley evangelize novel technologies at work even as they send their children to Waldorf schools that ban electronics. And, four decades of incredible innovation in America have done nothing to turn the tide of rising poverty and inequality. Why then do we keep hoping that technology will solve our greatest social ills?

In this incisive book, Toyama cures us of the manic rhetoric of digital utopians and reinvigorates us with a deeply people-centric view of social change. Contrasting the outlandish claims of tech zealots with stories of people like Patrick Awuah, a Microsoft millionaire who left his engineering job to open Ghana's first liberal arts university, and Tara Sreenivasa, a graduate of a remarkable South Indian school that takes children from dollar-a-day families into the high-tech offices of Goldman Sachs and Mercedes-Benz--Geek Heresy is a heartwarming reminder that it's human wisdom, not machines, that move our world forward.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ PublicAffairs; F First Edition (May 26, 2015)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 161039528X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1610395281
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.32 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.25 x 1.13 x 9.5 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 46 ratings

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Kentaro Toyama is W. K. Kellogg Professor at the University of Michigan's School of Information and a fellow of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT. Until 2009, he was assistant managing director of Microsoft Research India, which he co-founded in 2005. At MSR India, he started the Technology for Emerging Markets research group, which conducts interdisciplinary research to understand how the world's poorer communities interact with electronic technology and to invent new ways for technology to support their socio-economic development. The award-winning group is known for projects such as MultiPoint, Text-Free User Interfaces, and Digital Green.

Toyama co-founded the IEEE/ACM International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD) to provide a global platform for rigorous academic research in this field. He is also co-editor-in-chief of the journal Information Technologies and International Development. Prior to his time in India, Toyama researched computer vision and multimedia at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA, USA and Cambridge, UK, and taught mathematics at Ashesi University in Accra, Ghana. Toyama graduated from Yale with a PhD in Computer Science and from Harvard with a BS in Physics. He was born in Tokyo and raised in both Japan and the United States. He lives in Ann Arbor.

Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5
46 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on May 28, 2015
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Top reviews from other countries

Lindosland
2.0 out of 5 stars A one-track book about computer assisted learning in developing countries
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 3, 2016
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Athan
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 4, 2016
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Najib Yusuf
5.0 out of 5 stars VERY GOOD.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 10, 2016
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A.D.
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings
Reviewed in Canada on July 10, 2015
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Professor R Srinivsa Murthy
5.0 out of 5 stars This a very important book. It is full of ...
Reviewed in India on July 11, 2015
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