An insider’s perceptive look at how digital technology is consuming the consumer.
It’s striking when someone with more than two decades of experience promoting and launching tech products sets out to write a book that is essentially a warning to society about the nasty nature of technology. In fast-moving text replete with engaging ad-like chapter headings, Benlevi traces the rise of digital technology and the manner in which it has been sold to the consumer. The book’s premise can be summed up in the author’s stinging observation that “[t]he core properties of commonality and connectivity that make digital life seem so appealing are exactly the same ones that make it so destructive, invasive, and subject to abuse.” Indeed, Benlevi spends the majority of the book exploring this notion. He demonstrates how entertainment—primarily video, music and games—is the economic driver of the digital world. Benlevi suggests media labs, the “digerati,” venture capitalists, Internet service providers and “marketeers” comprise an insidious “Cult of Tech” that is first and foremost focused on profit. In case after case, the author depicts the potentially dangerous downside of a digital life. He discusses, for example, how video gamers become alienated from society, why cell phones can act like “digital cocoons,” how YouTube has turned everyone into a video producer and why social media is fast becoming just another channel to market brands. He adopts the contrarian view that the widely acclaimed iPad is effectively “a vending machine for digital media”—a device designed to feed more entertainment options to the consumer rather than promote creativity. He makes the intriguing claim that the 2008 economic meltdown “was entirely facilitated by digital technology and computerized models that were either wrong, fraudulent, or both.” This is not entirely new territory; other books have pointed to society’s over-reliance on technology. But Benlevi is especially passionate about the topic, which makes for a good read. In the end, Benlevi offers a compelling case for taking control of one’s digital life, rather than having it control you.
An entertaining, insightful book that a digitally dependent reader won’t soon forget.