A thought-provoking attempt to upend hyper-efficient, data-driven learning models that’s hampered by a limited viewpoint.

DIGITAL DREAMINGS

THOUGHTS ON LIFE, DEATH AND TECHNOLOGY

Gomez’s (The Nomad’s Labyrinth, 2013) philosophical treatise that asks cleareyed questions about technology.

In short, interconnected aphorisms and anecdotes, the author, who describes himself as “a painter, lawyer, writer, musician and father,” aims to get readers to interrogate the ways that digital learning shapes their understanding of the world and one another. His far-ranging argument addresses various ways of learning, including oral storytelling, music, dancing, and art; along the way, he offers a generalized discussion of Indian drumming and tackles composer Arvo Pärt’s minimalist tintinnabuli music. Throughout, Gomez expresses concern about how the digitization of communication has flattened the ways that people share information, hindering the types of knowledge and connections they can build. Instead of indulging in enriching pastimes, he says, technology has increasingly tethered people to their jobs, turning them into “information shepherds that manage data.” This book is filled with astute observations, including musings on cell phones’ incessant data-gathering, as in fitness apps that track one’s walking and slumber patterns: “Slowly we’re taking the leisure out of walking and the rest out of sleep.” However, his free-flowing style also results in non sequiturs that come off as naive (“Just drum together, then see what the results are”) or curmudgeonly (“Emoji’s [sic] reflect a bipolar psychology, all nuance is forgotten and only the green or the red pill is available to express and cope with the vicissitudes of everyday life”). Gomez’s self-reflections produce some fascinating insights, but there are moments in which his work might have benefited from a wider lens. At one point, for example, he shares his experience at a Verizon store, where he scrolled through a display iPhone to find an article in The Atlantic on meditation. The experience strikes him as ironic, but it doesn’t complicate his technological cynicism. Gomez’s argument also takes a sharp turn when he asks millennials to “set aside their phones to get out and march”—a plea that seems to ignore recent, youth-led movements, such as Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street.

A thought-provoking attempt to upend hyper-efficient, data-driven learning models that’s hampered by a limited viewpoint.

Pub Date: June 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-71917-644-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2018

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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