Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob

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Spiegel & Grau, 2008 - Social Science - 182 pages
26 Reviews

From the author hailed by the New York Times Book Review for his “drive-by brilliance” and dubbed by the New York Times Magazine as “one of the country’s most eloquent and acid-tongued critics” comes a ruthless challenge to the conventional wisdom about the most consequential cultural development of our time: the Internet.

Of course the Internet is not one thing or another; if anything, its boosters claim, the Web is everything at once. It’s become not only our primary medium for communication and information but also the place we go to shop, to play, to debate, to find love. Lee Siegel argues that our ever-deepening immersion in life online doesn’t just reshape the ordinary rhythms of our days; it also reshapes our minds and culture, in ways with which we haven’t yet reckoned. The web and its cultural correlatives and by-products—such as the dominance of reality television and the rise of the “bourgeois bohemian”—have turned privacy into performance, play into commerce, and confused “self-expression” with art. And even as technology gurus ply their trade using the language of freedom and democracy, we cede more and more control of our freedom and individuality to the needs of the machine—that confluence of business and technology whose boundaries now stretch to encompass almost all human activity.

Siegel’s argument isn’t a Luddite intervention against the Internet itself but rather a bracing appeal for us to contend with how it is transforming us all. Dazzlingly erudite, full of startlingly original insights, and buoyed by sharp wit, Against the Machine will force you to see our culture—for better and worse—in an entirely new way.

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Review: Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob

User Review  - Liz Cole - Goodreads

Despite its promising title, Lee Siegel's Against the Machine is less about the struggle to maintain our humanity in the digital age and more about his problem with how the internet age has completely ... Read full review

Review: Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob

User Review  - Josh - Goodreads

The author comes off as angry more than anything else. He was involved in an incident where he made a fake commentor name so that he could comment on his own story where other commentors were ... Read full review

About the author (2008)

LEE SIEGEL is a senior editor at The New Republic, author of the essay collection Falling Upwards, and winner of the 2002 National Magazine Award for Reviews and Criticism. He lives in New York City.

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