Editorial Review - Kirkus - Jane Doe

Quirky but sprawling indictment of our Internet-dominated society.Lanier, an iconoclastic speaker, columnist, computer scientist, musician and innovator of virtual-reality experiments in the 1980s, skewers the degeneration of the modern digital world. The author convincingly argues that changes in digital and software design affect human behavior, just as small changes in virtual-reality ... Read full review

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Lanier expresses my concerns with the unquestioning acceptance technical development and it's mindless worship. He celebrates humanism and it's importance in thinking critically about emergent technical opportunities. He reminds us that we need to not believe all that we are told, especially by evangelical purveyors of technology. That way we can apply the human judgement of balance that is essential to a sensible future. 

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The ideas of this book are amazing and hit you like a brick on the side of your head. Lanier somehow combines technology and philosophy into something addictive to read. I think the generally disfavorable reviews are do to: A.Lanier uses complex language and technical terms that aren't suitable for everyone.-and- B.People are afraid of what they are reading. 

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Pay the pipers. This manifesto appeals to unmet ideological, artistic, economic and political drives which are manipulated computationally with respect to cloud, finance, and science, and may lead to cultural nostalgia and spiritual suicide. The author is pro-internet, but anti-proxy to the extent that standards often become hidden limits. It explores the edges of futurist philosophy and digital politics unrecognized by Turing’s test, of zombies in the midst of a self-fulfilling, and fuzzy, humanity subject to neotony and cephalopod envy. One may be reminded of another musician-mathematician author, Neal Stephenson, who snapshots cyfi subjects from unusual sight-lines and soundtracks. The ability to feel is a distinguishing feature of consciousness. Automation-wise, there is no adequate measure of meaning of qualities such as sensibility versus usability. The solution is to add order of magnitudes more effort into creativity and innovation than consumption. The coiner of “virtual reality” introduces the reader to concepts such as the “race to be most meta”, “oracle illusion” , “cybernetic totalists”, “digital Maoists”, and “circle of empathy”. Though the web is popularly treated as a metaorganic force of nature, there are considerations of clan orientation and relationship to include. Search and social networks do not the post-symbolic meaning represent. 

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not interesting in the second part

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Interesting review in The Newyork reviews of books :

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It is kind of sad to witness a repsectable computer pioneer like Jaron Lanier losing grip of contemporary digital culture.
This book is extremely terrible. Almost all arguments presented are vague
, not sound or consistent, sometimes going into the schizophrenic, and mostly based on personal bitterness and a limited set of experience with Internet Users. I believe everyone who praises this book is just happy that somebody else is sharing a misty fear and disappointment about what is happening with computer users today. If you really try to follow the logic of this book you will find out that there is none, only gut feeling.
It is not a manifesto, it is poking around in the dark, obviously puzzled together from unrelated articles and essays, about a 1980's hacker ideology that is surprised by its own elitism, trying to make sense of the "mob" that seems to have overrun a broken utopia. Really sad.
Read only if you can stomach all this.

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An intriguing but highly pessimistic look at the impact of the Internet and digital technology on our lives, culture, and economy. Like other Net skeptics, Lanier worries about the loss of individuality, the rise of "mob" behavior, the dangers of free culture, and the rise of a new sharecropper economy in which a small handful of capitalists are supposedly getting rich off the backs of free labor. As a respected Internet visionary, a gifted computer scientist, an expert on virtual reality, and a master wordsmith, the concerns Lanier articulates here deserve to be taken seriously -- even if one ultimately does not share his lugubrious worldview. And I don't.
He rightly castigates extreme varieties of quixotic techno-utopianism, which he labels "cybernetic totalism," or the belief by some extreme digital age optimists that a "hive mind" or "noosphere" is coming about. It's a vision of the Net as an organism powered by the wisdom of crowds. Lanier thinks such thinking is all bunk and, worse yet, that it has dangerous ramifications for humanity and individuality. He also asks us to think twice before taking too big of a gulp of the "free culture" kool-aid and extreme varieties of cyber-collectivism, which I wholeheartedly agree with.
But his critique is too sweeping and he refuses at times to acknowledge the many legitimate innovations associated with open source software or Web 2.0 technologies. He also gets so caught up in his critique of the free culture movement that he unfairly indicts the entire digital generation and wrongly claims most modern culture is moribund and little more than "a petty mashup of preweb culture." Sorry, but I just don't buy that. And it's entirely subjective, anyway.
I also found Lanier's "lords of the cloud" critique of social networking and advertising unpersuasive. Lanier seems to believe that Google, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other Web 2.0 sites are all just part of the hive mind indoctrination scheme. Or, at a minimum, they are turning our brains into Jello, he claims, and destroying our individuality. But here Lanier is guilty of a form of hyper-nostolgia about those mythical "good 'ol days" when all was supposedly much better. The Web 1.0 world was any better than today's cyberspace; it had its own share of problems. And today'????s leading cloud companies aren't exploiting us or manipulating our minds by offering us great platforms or free services. Indeed, they are offering us wonderful new avenues for self-expression and interaction with others.
Lanier doesn't seem willing to leave room for a middle ground position that rejects extreme techno-utopianism and the most extreme elements of the free culture mindset, but also acknowledges there is much good to be found in modern digital culture and online life. Despite that, his book is easily one of the most important information technology policy books of recent years and deserves a spot on your shelf.
You can find my complete review of Lanier's book on the Technology Liberation Front blog:

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