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Edia and LINUX But as he points out these two highly successful products are based on long established pre existing models which grew up in the old encapsulated world Encyclopedia Britannica and UNIX So are Wikipedia and LINUX truly new or are they just evolutionary advances that harnessed the collective energies of countless contributors willing to work for free in exchange for some
Bragging Rights I Think 
rights I think is mostly right on thisThe above examples lead Lanier to argue that the whole hive mind approach of the web and open source and mash up style creative models may be running out of and mash up style creative models may be running out of In fact he thinks they re suffering from what archeologists would call pattern exhaustion where a civilization runs out of new ideas and just starts repeating the same old patterns with minor variations think of the Maya or Imperial China in their late stages He thinks this hive mind is really illing diversity and original thinking on the web This is pretty provocative stuff coming from Lanier with a lot of truth in itI also very much liked his discussion of the impact of anonymity on the hive mind that drives social networking on the web Since so much of it is anonymous users hide behind a mask and begin writing very ugly andor mindless things Recall that the Ku Klux Klansmen also liked to hide behind their sheets with predictably ugly results It s not likely that any of this is making a contribution to our civilization Anonymity hiding behind a pseudonym and privacy Modern Korean Literature keeping others from nosing around your personal information are NOT the same thing which is not a distinction that Lanier makes very clearly howeverHe whines a lot about the implications of creative content on the web being free especially content such as music and journalism Remember he s a musician and a writer Increasingly people can t make a living in these professions because they can t compete against free This is true but is much like complaining about the weather In any industry where barriers to entry are low the marketplace is global the cost of distribution is next to zero and the producers musiciansjournalists are willing to do what they do for little or no money because they love what they do then prices will inevitably move to ridiculously low levels in most cases FREE for all but a small rarefied portion of that creative content eg the New York Times and music from brand name musicians I think Lanier forgets that for professions such as music the creators have almost always been unpaid for as long as music has existed Even Mozart nearly starved to death There was a brief heyday for paid musicians in the 20th century but that was an anomalyHis lengthy discussion of computationally enhanced corruption was entertaining not least for the label he used to describe it but mostly uninformed Yes it s true that global networks and powerful computers and sophisticated trading platforms have made allinds of scams possible things such as Collateralized Debt Obligations CDOs the scam used to peddle near worthless sub prime mortgages to unsuspecting investors all over the world and obscure derivatives strategies "And Hedging Schemes Collectively "hedging schemes Collectively nearly brought down the global financial system But very little of what Lanier proposes would have done anything to stop it Overall You Are Not a Gadget was thought provoking and sometimes infuriating but I still maintain it would have bee. Ainst mass mediocrity a creative call to arms and an impassioned defence of the human'A provocative and sure to be controversial book Lucid powerful and persuasive'   The New York Times'There is hardly a page that does not contain some fascinating provocation'    Guardian'Short and frightening from a position of real nowledge and insight'Zadie Smith New York Review of Books'Poetic and prophetic this could be the most important book of the year'    The TimesJaron Lanier is a philosopher and computer scientist who has spent his career pushin. ,
You Are Not a Gadget A ManifestoReading this book was like sitting next to your drunk uncle at Thanksgiving and listening to his rant full of unsubstatiated uninformed opinions stated like they were
The Words Of God 
words of God To be fair the author does warn the reader that the negativity will eventually end and that the end of the book has some positive messages but I never got to the positive part The concepts of the internet making us dumber as a people were all very well written opinions Unfortunately the data backing up the claims was nonexistent If you re going to say that all of the media online mashups edits etc is simply a rehashing of old media then give us some statistics Give us some data that backs up your very strong opinions Overall the concept for the book was sound but it came off as fanatical and based solely on the author s personal feelings despite his heavy immersion into the advancements in technology I will mention one positive thing about the book The chapter headings were very good Short interesting and slightly ambiguous they made me want to read the chapter to see what was going on But even those lost their luster and I only made it a third of the way through As a disclaimer Jaron Lanier was roommates with Richard Stallman with whom I had a bit of an argument regarding epistem This is a slim book that should have been slimmer In fact it should probably have been a couple of articles in Wired Magazine instead I think the Wired readership is pretty much the core target audience for this book The author is a long time software engineer musician and philosopher of technology I m not sure I ve ever read any book by a philosopher of technology but that s definitely what he is The upside of that approach is that he thinks of technology within a framework of ethics and esthetics The downside is that he rants a lot in ways that are both uirky and crankyThe book starts with a long discussion about how early technology standards or platform designs think Windows or UNIX lock in a certain ind of architecture that shapes everything that is built on top of it or plugs into it for better or worse His favorite whipping boy is the "MIDI standard used for digitizing music which as a professional musician he "standard used for digitizing music which as a professional musician he is lousy but too deeply entrenched to displace OK but that s always been the case with standards We re Going Om kind of stuck with railroad gauges of a certain width and light bulb sockets of a certain diameter unless we want to do a lot of large scale tearing down and rebuilding This is not exactly a novel insight Nor is it clear how you avoid this or even if a flawed standard is really worse than the chaos of no standard at allMuch later in the book he makes some very interesting points about what he calls encapsulated technology such as computing hardware devices or iPods or Blackberries These he believes progress very rapidly according to Moore s Law precisely because they are protected behind a sort of fortress wall that makes it possible for their designers toeep advancing the state of the art while they open up some selected aspects of their platforms for 3rd party developers as Apple and Research in Motion Blackberry have done With open source software by contrast there is no such encapsulation or protection Result this software does NOT evolve This is a very surprising observation and immediately what come to mind are such seeming counter examples as Wikip. In You are Not a Gadget digital guru and virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier reveals how the internet is deadening personal interaction stifling genuine inventiveness and even changing us as peopleSomething went wrong around the start of the twenty first century The crowd was wise Social networks replaced individual creativity There were places to express ourselves than ever before yet no one really had anything to sayDoes this have to be our futureShowing us the way to a future where individuals mean than machines this is a searing manifesto ag. ,

Summary You Are Not a Gadget A Manifesto

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N better delivered as a couple of magazine articles in Wired rather than a full length book This book is all jism and dope smoke Jaron Lanier is really really bothered by a laundry list of standard arch conservative nemeses Marxism today s ids filesharing the breakdown of the social contract foreigners stealing our jobs as well as a basket of useful yet imperfect modern technologies Wikipedia Blogs MIDI Linux He is aware of a sinister cabal of cybernetic totalists who are hard at work on a machine to xerox His Brain And Force brain and force to use Facebook to meet girls But they ll never win because humans are special as PROVEN by the magical fact that Jaron Lanier cannot describe what makes humans special Meanwhile the Internet is full of trolls nobody speaks HTML any and Jaron can t make a living as a musician Clearly the Digital End Times are at hand He wants to lay the blame on a digital culture that s too standardized and too free on the evils of open source software and democratic communicationWell he had his chance to do that and he flubbed it Jaron Lanier cannot construct a convincing argument only about half the time can he even link two paragraphs He contradicts himself whenever it is convenient to do so He regularly starts a section with the assertion of a Great Digital Evil the record industry is dying bloggers don t spell check then insinuates a link to his vague overarching thesis When he does try to convince a skeptical reader of the connection he usually fails often he just mutters Clearly there is a connection I guess he s trying to win over the reader with the depth and emotional sincerity of his whining plea for sanity I feel bad for whoever buys itThen he spends the last uarter of the book trying to convince us that whatever random projects he s been working on lately are intimately connected with his desire to save the world from the Great Digital Evil he has not uite described Apparently people need to be like suids while remaining uniuely special humans of course Also financial contracts should be written in LISP And pop songs should live in coffee mugs so they can t be downloaded I id you notJaron I many other computer nerds over forty have lived through a bona fide computer revolution over the last two decades But Jaron s memory of the facts is somewhat different than mine He s good at spinning sad scary yarns about the evolution of the Internet of paradises promised and lost but he s regularly full of shit I won t call it lying because I m sure it s true to him but the real history is out there and can be looked up This book has ten pages of index but cites NO REFERENCES I would love to see it ruthlessly fact checked but apparently Allen Lane Publishing a Penguin imprint is too hobbled by "THE IMPENDING SAD SCARY OBSOLESCENCE OF "impending sad scary obsolescence of to employ a fact checker Or maybe they just figured the book wouldn t survive the processI still think there s something #creepy out there I still think the internet doesn t smell as rosy as it used to #out there I still think the internet doesn t smell as rosy as it used to I still think Facebook is a big fat waste of time both human and computational I think the ways software can control its users are important to recognize and beware of But this book is just a paranoid incoherent neoliberal bitchfest with digital pretensions from Jaron Lanier of all people UPDATE Jaron collected his thoughts found a real editor and wrote a much better book Read that one instea. G the transformative power of modern technology to its limits From coining the term 'Virtual Reality' and creating the world's first immersive avatars to developing cutting edge medical imaging and surgical techniues Lanier is one of the premier designers and engineers at work todayA musician with a collection of over 700 instruments he has been recognised by Encyclopedia Britannica but certainly not Wikipedia as one of history's greatest inventors and named one of the top one hundred public intellectuals in the world by Prospect and Foreign Poli. .

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