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

Front Cover
Random House Publishing Group, Jan 22, 2008 - Social Science - 192 pages
17 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.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

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

User Review  - Scribe - Goodreads

Thought this might have been a bit more nuanced - but while I agree with and have sympathy with the point being made here (hence 2 stars rather than 1), Siegel comes across as a grumpy old man who's ... Read full review

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

User Review  - Paul Adrian - Goodreads

In this book, Lee Siegel talked about how the advent of the internet helped develop the narcissistic culture people adapt online. Now more than ever, people are selling their leisure time in exchange ... Read full review


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

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

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.

Bibliographic information