Reader, Come Home

Maryanne Wolf has a new book about how and why we are reading less in our distracted digital age.

Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World

Her earlier book Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain looked more generally at how reading affects the brain. I should confess that I bought a copy when it came out and have yet to read it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Trumping Ourselves to Death

Ezra Klein on Vox:

Since Trump was elected, the bookshelves and op-ed pages have been alive with fears of Orwellian fascism – fears that, for the most part, remain far from manifesting. But even as Orwell’s dystopia has failed to materialize, Huxley’s dystopia has: We areburied under ignorance disguised as information, confused by entertainment masquerading as news, distracted by a dizzying procession of lies and outrages and ginned-up controversies, inured to misbehavior and corruption that would’ve consumed past administrations. We have lost control of our attention, if not of our government.

It is hard to read this paragraph from Postman without feeling he is speaking specifically about us:

When Orwell wrote in his famous essay “The Politics of the English Language” that politics has become a matter of “defending the indefensible,” he was assuming that politics would remain a distinct, although corrupted, mode of discourse. His contempt was aimed at those politicians who would use sophisticated versions of the age-old arts of double-think, propaganda and deceit. That the defense of the indefensible would be conducted as a form of amusement did not occur to him. He feared the politician as deceiver, not as entertainer.

Link: Amusing ourselves to Trump (I might have gone with “Trumping ourselves to death”)

via LibrarianShipwreck

Get the book: Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Kara Swisher on Zuckerberg

A good op-ed by Kara Swisher on the state of Facebook and the internet generally in 2018.


“At a recent employee Q. and A. I did at YouTube, for example, one staffer told me that their jobs used to be about wrangling cat videos and now they had degenerated into a daily hell of ethics debates about the fate of humanity.”

Link: The Expensive Education of Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley (NY Times)

The Internet Intellectual (Morozov on Jarvis)

A fairly devastating takedown of Jeff Jarvis's new book Public Parts by Evgeny Morozov (author of The Net Delusion): (print version – should not require sign-in).

I almost feel bad for Jarvis. It seems like a solid critique, and tackles not only Jarvis but other Internet utopians (e.g. Clay Shirky), but it's perhaps a little mean-spirited.

Alone Together

I just finished reading Sherry Turkle’s new book, Alone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other (book website, Amazon) and I can’t recommend it highly enough. She reports on her research into how people experience social media and social robots, and asks many important questions about where we’re headed. I found the second half of the book, on social media, more compelling than the first, on robots, though Turkle’s analysis does bring the two topics together nicely.