I read You Are Not a Gadget, and was pleasantly surprised with its style and presentation. Of the hivemind backlash posse, I’d be happy to hang out with Lanier any day, and maybe along with Nick Carr we could go play Ding-Dong-Dash on Bauerlein.
On the whole, though, Lanier is wrong, and this article touches on why. Lanier believes the World-As-We-Have-It comes about primarily through the internet. In his most recent formulation, he has kids eschewing building careers for themselves because it’s too attractive to build reputation networks and live at home with Mom.
The naivete of this is bizarre, given we are sitting in the Great Recession and youth unemployment is well north of 20% in America and god knows what elsewhere.
I noticed throughout the book, Lanier consistently makes the same mistake. He wonders why the radio has so little experimental music these days, and presto — the answer is file-sharing. Me, I would have thought the following factors all came ahead of file-sharing:
- Domination of radio market by single company (Clear Channel)
- Rise of the Disney Artist market (Selena Gomez, Britney Spears, Demi Levato)
- Maturation of the rock medium (most styles and instruments had been assimilated into rock by the late 1980s)
- Moving of the economic center of the market from late teens, early 20s to tweens and early teens (due to economic shifts in disposable cash).
- Recovery of the major labels from temporary disruption of the indies in the early 90s
I could go on. Most big things in life are not driven by technological innovation, but by economic and demographic shifts. That’s why the internet didn’t kill higher education, but Medicare will. Talking about how a bunch of 20-somethings have “chosen” to drop out of a money-go-round that saved no seats for them in the first place is bizarre.