AGAINST THE MACHINE by Lee Siegel

AGAINST THE MACHINE

Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob
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KIRKUS REVIEW

News flash! The Internet has changed our lives!

Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past 15 years is well aware that computers and the Internet have radically altered the world in many ways, some positive (e.g., quick access to random information, a convenient place to store Word documents) and some negative (e.g., less meaningful human contact). Which means that a 200-page diatribe pining for pre-Pentium days seems more than a little archaic. In his recent books, Siegel (Not Remotely Controlled: Notes on Television, 2007, etc.) has demonstrated a predilection for intellectualizing topics that don’t necessarily merit intellectualization (Joey and Iron Chef America, for instance). Here he waxes philosophic on the Electronic Age, but he’s behind the times. For instance, the YouTube, MySpace and Match.com backstories and/or functionalities are familiar to anybody with even the slightest interest in Internet culture. Siegel uses the words and thoughts of such contempo-philosophers as Malcolm Gladwell and Alvin Toffler to support or disprove his arguments, which further underscores the fact that this material has been covered better elsewhere. Of Wikipedia, Siegel writes, “Why does Wikipedia exist? If you ask its promoters the question, they’ll look at you as though you were wearing a loincloth and carrying a club…They’ll throw up their hands. ‘It’s convenient!’ they’ll say. Duh!”

Siegel’s snotty, Luddite attitude doesn’t make much of a case for “being human.”

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-385-52265-6
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2007




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