Unpacking My Library (5 books at a time…)

As with many other online trends, I’m a little late to the table on this one, but here goes…

Last month, I noticed that my friend Ben had posted his ‘My5Books’ to Twitter. He challenged me to do the same, and in typical fashion, I thought about it way too much and ended up posting nothing. I actually stared at my bookshelf for a solid 15 minutes that evening. But when it came time to condense that down to 140 characters, I believe I ended up making a sandwich and watching NCIS instead. Sometimes this whole ‘life of the mind’ thing is easily mistaken for ‘laziness’…

So after a few weeks, I thought I’d return to this challenge, and post a lengthy blog entry. I’m not particularly good at following instructions.  Read More

TV is for Learning: Why Postman’s Future is so Unfriendly

Working in and around Media Literacy, as with any field, I run into a number of ideas that just refuse to go away. Bad theories and writers who practically haunt the field, continually finding new ways to make themselves relevant or hip.

Case in point: this cartoon, which pops up with a maddening frequency. I see this linked on Facebook or Twitter every few weeks, in an effort to remind the world that Neil Postman sure was a grumpy, elitist tool. Oh, wait… I mean, the cartoon is supposed to remind us that Postman was a prophet, and that our world is really quite a terrible place to be.
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Wikifreaks: Jaron Lanier and the Digital Maoists

A colleague posted a link to this article yesterday, prompting me to re-visit Jaron Lanier’s 2010 work, You Are Not a Gadget.

In the Bustillos piece – which, I might add, includes a pretty thorough discussion of McLuhan’s work – a number of authors are singled out (Sherry Turkle, Jaron Lanier, and Malcolm Gladwell, among them) and dragged across the coals. Their crime? Questioning the infallibility of the Hive.

When I first read Lanier’s work, I found it provocative, awkwardly argued, and thoroughly brilliant. He helps bring together a number of critical questions surrounding the Internet and its ongoing development. Rather than grappling head-on with the issues he raises, however, most of the web seems content to dismiss him as yet another grouchy old man yelling at the kids on his lawn.

To be honest, I’ve used this exact imagery myself on several occasions. It’s an easy way to avoid delving deeper into serious critiques of technology and culture.
But Lanier isn’t some angry old man masking his fear and confusion behind polished arguments and a sweater-vest. He is intimately connected to the history of the contemporary web, entangled in the narrative strands that form the Internet. As an active force within technology and media for three decades, he is worth taking seriously. At the risk of offending… he is not another Clay Shirky or Seth Godin…
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Gleick and the MEA: The Medium is A BIG STUPIDHEAD AND I DON’T LIKE IT AT ALL!

Last week I finished reading James Gleick’s absolutely brilliant new book, The Information: a History, a Theory, a Flood.
I really can’t recommend this one highly enough. If Neil deGrasse Tyson has taken over Carl Sagan’s project of science education on TV and the web, then Gleick is very definitely continuing that legacy in print. His writing is very accessible, but more importantly it’s interesting. He writes the story of science, detailing the process and the collaborative efforts of brilliant minds around the word. This is not a textbook, nor is it a superficial summary of only the basic facts. Gleick writes about Information and Communication studies with passion and a deep understanding of the material.

Or so I thought…

You see, it turns out that Gleick is WRONG. And STUPID. And MEAN.
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