I just finished reading “You are not a Gadget – A manifesto” by Jaron Lanier, and I do recommend it for anyone who is interested in the future of our society and how it will include technology. The real meat of this book lies in its middle section where Lanier discusses the challenges that the new Web 2.0 culture (aka the “hive mind”) is imposing on us. Lanier believes that our shift toward aggregation of creative content is destroying the personal creative aspect of our culture which is central to our personhood. In certain sections of this book it almost seems like Lanier is just a Luddite who is afraid of technological change, but the first and last sections of the book are there to remind us that he is far from it – as he is one of the pioneers of virtual reality and still working on the bleeding edge of computational research and development. He is not a luddite – just a creative person who is concerned by the direction that our world is taking – one that marginalizes individual creativity in favor of a hive-mind utopia.
I tend to agree with many of Lanier’s concerns. I am greatly concerned with the culture of “free”, where people believe that they should be able to get everything (digital at least) for free. This is a road to little or no creative development and, ultimately, to the socialization of all creative endeavors (which I believe is a bad thing …. let me know if you need me to connect the dots).
Anyways… I strongly recommend this book. It’s a good read – and a relatively easy one.