Have just finished reading You Are Not A Gadget and am totally amped because of how it ends, how it threw me up against the wall in the middle, and did nothing to set me up in the beginning for the convictions that have become more solidified. Suffice to say that this is recommended reading material, but for more reasons than what Lainer proposes – you have no choice after reding this to end up thinking of computing differently.
Like my last look at this book as I presented it here, I will just pull a few quotes/highlights and notes (my highlights and notes are now public for this and other books that I have read via Kindle). These are out of order, while this book is best read in order. Make of that what you will, but I am literally starting this reflection post right after completing the reading.
Of Meaning and Faith, To Live By Creative
Any gadget, even a big one like the Singularity, gets boring after a while. But a deepening of meaning is the most intense potential kind of adventure available to us.
One of the questions that I have had gnawing at me for a few months now has been this conviction that there is more to computing than specs and even deliverance (socially, politically, or spiritually). There is this adventure that we are somehow missing because we are looking down the hole of this revolution but not making attempts to walk down the hole and see what is on the other end unless the cord to what we know is kept.
Meaning – that deep philosophical and religious component of experience that is behind all that we do//live – strikes at the core of this book. This intention and need to strive for something more that can be experienced at best by acknowledging the failures of historical decisions, but also their successes in their relevant contexts. If you will, so what that we can understand how to connect to one another in our faith communities, can this connection drive an experience of that faith that is random and familiar because it derives from our best manipulations of the tools in featured-creative ways? There is a meaning to life/faith beyond what old media has told us that we can know? If so, let’s go there, and retell the stories of old afresh.
Open Source Motivations For Good and Entropy
Digital socialists must avoid the trap of believing that a technological makeover has solved all the problems of socialism just because it can solve some of them. Getting people to cooperate is not enough.
The open-source software community is simply too connected to focus its tests and maintain its criteria over an extended duration. A global process is no test at all, for the world happens only once. You need locality to have focus, evolution, or any other creative process.
Here is that moment where my friend’s words come back to me with a freshness: “technology is only relevant when it is personal.”
The faith of many within open source circles is it’s own religion, but that if a faith with holes because its very merits are driven by the kinds of zealousness that just isn’t sustainable by the majority of users. Perhaps, or maybe if, vanity wasn’t at the core, the kind of vanity that begs for transparency of serifs, lords, and processes, then possibility there could be some technological utopia. We are not just flawed, but our experiences color what is experienced, therefore utopia can only be made possible inside of closed/controlled experiences.
Virtual Reality and Octopi Dream Better Than Me
Finally (start here and read to end of the book), there is this cresting of seams and dreams when Lanier goes into his experiences behind virtual reality (he coined the term and most of it’s tech) and the observations of octopi (and that class of organisms). For some reason, it just made all kinds of sense when he started putting these points together. The ability for computing tools and processes to become this additional appendage that requires a new kind of learning, but is at the same time wired into how we best know how to communicate and survive.
It brought me back to why I have been disinterested in writing reviews about mobile devices. There is a slowing down of their evolutions that makes no sense to me. It is similar to a discussion that I had on Twitter recently. There is no excuse that if someone can call a mobile platform better than something that came before that it should take a step back in use and functionality. The presence of a closed/focus vision towards mobile platforms should have us using devices and services that are more like that Nokia Morph Concept, and less like the illusion of innovation prescribed by some fans of iOS and Android platforms.
What Lanier does is to draw my mind – and even faith – into the sheer possibility that questioning and living with this “computing appendage” (this is what one friend calls mobile phones) is not just smart, but part of the creative and expressive exploration of life that isn’t at all like a machine, but very much the undecided evolving of man.