This book is disturbing. All of us know that our privacy has eroded in the internet era. All of us know that self-driving cars are the wave of the future. All of us at one time or another have been entangled in a phone conversation with an automated answering system that serves as sentry to the world of people. But all of us do not know the extent to which the big tech companies have reshaped reality in their desired image. In this book, Franklin…Continue Reading “World Without Mind”

I’ve found myself returning to posts on my “Reviews” page to refresh my memory of certain books, and I realize once again that this blog has, in a sense, spoiled me. If I think, “I’ll just keep a reading journal with pen and paper,” it doesn’t happen. This is where my reading is centralized. It’s not a commonplace book, the notes are not extensive, it’s not a “complete” picture of my thoughts on every book. But it is Reading Central for me just the same….Continue Reading “Recent Reads”

Though I’m neither an especially tech savvy person nor an Apple devotee, lately I’ve been hearing about Steve Jobs everywhere. He seems to be the one people like to quote, especially his comments about designing not the products people want, but the ones people would want if they knew they existed. When my husband watched a documentary about Jobs a few weeks ago and told me about it, that settled it. I had to read this bio by Walter Isaacson. The book offers a readable…Continue Reading “Steve Jobs”

This story about the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was on NPR while I was making supper last night. I laughed a cynical laugh. The story is a giddy pep rally for using “biometric data” — retinal scans, fingerprints, face recognition — to increase tech security by making passwords obsolete. (The Borg, anyone?) It comes on the heels of a week when I’m increasingly aware that technology really does not deliver on its promises because it malfunctions much of the time. Just in the…Continue Reading “Convenience? Convince me.”

If we have such an effective attentional filter, why can’t we filter out distractions better than we can? Why is information overload such a serious problem now? For one thing, we’re doing more than ever before. The promise of a computerized society, we were told, was that it would relegate to machines all of the repetitive drudgery of work, allowing us humans to pursue loftier purposes and have more leisure time. It didn’t work out this way. Instead of more time, most of us have…Continue Reading “More work…?”

A few years ago, I read Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together, which studied the effects of social media on our relationships. Though I really liked the book, I couldn’t relate as well to the earlier portions that focused on the development of robots. “What does this have to do with me?” I wondered. I feel differently now. A few weeks ago, I saw a headline about developing robot nurses to treat Ebola patients. Last week I saw another headline, this one about a Google computer that…Continue Reading “The Glass Cage”

We were working on our salad when he seemed to change the subject and asked, as we all sometimes do, about the role of moral authority in restraining a person from doing wrong. That is, how much do people rely on the physical proximity of others to influence their ethical behavior? We agreed that if some sense of collective vigilance influences our behavior, whether it be financial or physical — some awareness of physical community that makes us do right or wrong — then the…Continue Reading “Anonymusing”

I heard this report the other night while I was making dinner. It’s about Facebook changing its privacy policy (again) and users’ discomfort about it (again). The article is worth reading, but what jumped out at me was the remark by one user that Facebook really isn’t optional anymore. I’m not on Facebook and have lived to tell about it. It’s not that I don’t consider starting an account from time to time. But so far I remain Facebookless. What keeps me from it is…Continue Reading “Vanishing Privacy”

Jess posted a link to this article about a technology-free school where tech execs send their children. Very interesting — definitely worth a look. I’ve been thinking about showing my 5th grader how to use MS Publisher, but this article makes me think I might be rushing it. It also gave me a tip on how to get my 2nd grader to learn her multiplication table — by turning into a human lightning bolt.

David Ulin’s Lost Art of Reading has been a thought-provoking little book. Described as a “ruminative essay,” this compact reflection on the distinctiveness of reading, and its role in an increasingly networked information age, doesn’t really make an argument against technology or predict the death of reading. But it does acknowledge some ways books and reading are being changed by technology, and makes a case for being proactive about finding ways to preserve the immersion act of deep reading. This author has very different tastes…Continue Reading “The Lost Art of Reading”