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“You Are Not a Gadget”

You Are Not a Gadget: A ManifestoJaron Lanier thinks the Internet has become one giant wasteland driven by self-interest and greed. In his book, cleverly titled “You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto,” Lanier criticizes many features that have become indelibly entwined in our lives: social networking like Facebook and Twitter, Wikipedia, blog comments, video pranks and mashups, and anything involved in Web 2.0. Lanier dubs these as “cybernetic totalism,” The Washington Post’s review said. Michael Agger of Slate puts it best: “The poor human participants become ‘peasants’ working for the ‘lords’ of technology: those who have deeper access to the workings of the Web (read Google, Yahoo…) and who profit from our volunteer labor. Our role is simply to keep contributing our code-bits and snippets and Facebook pages. … [Lanier] is raising a defense against this reduction of our being.” The Post criticizes Lanier for his lack of citations, yet he does propose a sort of iTunes-run-by-the-government model that — although wishful thinking for now — at least shows that someone is trying to rehash possible solutions for rampant illegal downloading. Lanier’s criticisms show a particular type of Internet-purist snobbery, and Agger dismisses his penchant to yearn for the days of yore.

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