- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (March 31, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679745408
- ISBN-13: 978-0679745402
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 125 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology
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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.
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Top customer reviews
I prefer the way that Ian Morris explains the past and predicts the future. Here are his major books: “Why the West Rules for Now” (published in 2010) and “War! What is it Good For?” (2014)
Postman’s major books are: “Technopoly” (published in 1992) and “Amusing Ourselves to Death” (1985).
I enjoyed looking at YouTube interviews with both authors describing their books. Ian Morris is a much more dynamic speaker.
sovereingty over social institutions and national life."
Postman is not by any means an luddite but he wants us to be aware of how technology has shaped our society,and epistemology. Often not for the better in many respects.
We live in a society that does not use machines but is more and more used by them. It shapes our world view. Postman attempts to trace it's effect on us from the beginning. Overall he does a fine a job. Although a easy read many of the topics require closer scrutiny and thinking. Which is good, he wants you to think about whats happening not just accept what he has to say.
In one chapter he roasts the medical industry's infatuation with new technology while the doctors neglect their patients. Patients invariably are reduced to slabs of meat on a assembly line. He makes the salient point that information is not understanding, which is usually ignored by most promoters of technopoly.
Another chapter deals with 'scientism' which is science distorted into a intolerant fundamentalist belief system and its effects on our society. This chapter is his most humorous as he disects some the masters of the obvious(Dilbert like scientists who think they have discovered something profound but what most people on the street already know)Like people are afraid of death and that open minded people tend to be open minded. That's right Ph.d's have done studies to prove these notions! Perhaps a better title for this chapter would have been "the marching morons of science."
The last chapter deals on how to resist technology in our daily lives. Which he sums ups in several points(not all of them are listed in this review). Though it's not enough in my opinion, considering technolopy's corrosive influence on people and cultures throughout the world. Things need to be addressed at the nation policy level if anything is to be really changed.
* who do not regard the aged as irrelevant
* who admire technological ingenuity but do not think it represents the highest form of human achievement.
* who are at least, suspicious of the idea of progress, and who do not confuse information with understanding.
* who have freed themselves from the belief in the magical power of numbers, do not regard calculations as an adequate substitute for judgement or as synonym for truth.
The book is a good starting point to informing oneself on the minuses of technology. Though dated much of his observations are still relevant and a good antidote to high tech mavens like Kelly, Moravec and their ilk. Another good book is David Ehrenfeld's "Beginning Again" written from a profession biologist POV. Or better yet, get Wendell Berry's tract "Life is a miracle" which a rather thorough disection of technolopy's epistemology and what lies beneath it's pretty public facade.
In a speech to a group of conservative Austrians, Postman stated that television and other new, commericial technologies were all a part of a seductive imperialism of the USA (though not implemented by the government). The real conundrum for Postman though, is that conservatives have come to be defined as always for the capitalist free market, yet state run media, as propossed by conservatives such as Herbert Hoover, would actually be far LESS restricting than commercial media. Because of that, a state run programme would have more content and less focus on sensation. A side affect would eb the return of attention spans greater than a minute or two.
And this, in a nutshell, is how Postman's arguments work. I personally agree with him, but he does often make me depressed... ah well. Was Postman a reactionary? I don't think so. I think, by a cultural vantage, you can clearly see the negative aspects that he's pointing out. But will his message ever be practised? I wouldn't be betting on it.
Like all of Neil Postman's writing, this book is thought provoking and accesable. I highly recommend it.