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

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Random House Publishing Group, Jan 22, 2008 - Social Science - 192 pages
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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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nmele - LibraryThing

It is a shame that the important, true things that Lee Siegel argues in this book are obscured by his all out attack on the Internet's down side which does not recognize that for every rude, self ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ambookgeek - LibraryThing

My review would be very much the same as mcur's below though I don't think, as mcur does, that the final chapter does enough to overcome the weaknesses of the bulk of the piece. Siegel makes many ... Read full review

Selected pages


The World Is All That Is the Case
Bait and Switch
The Me Is the Message
The Context of Participatory Culture
9? Participatory Culture
A Dream Come True 125
Being There
The Emperors New Modem
Homo Inrerneticus

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About the author (2008)

Lee Siegel is the author of the essay collections Falling Upwards and Not Remotely Controlled. In 2002 he received the National Magazine Award for Reviews and Criticism. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.

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