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5-Star Book with a 1-Star Title
There's a recent trend where we take an amazing book that everyone needs to read and give it a crazy title (e.g., Chasing the Scream, Fantasy Land, etc.) virtually guaranteeing that nobody will become intrigued enough to pick up said book. To help overcome this deficit, I have written this review to point out how insanely good this dull-titled book really is.
Pop quiz, during the last four years of the Obama administration, which American company sent the most lobbyists to the White House?
Was it some bloated weapons-system maker who just signed a sweetheart, no-bid, multi-billion dollar deal to deliver a weapons system that will come in late, over-contract, and have multiple technical glitches requiring expensive ongoing maintenance and upgrades from said company? Nope not those guys.
Was it lobbyists from some big pharma company trying to convince the president to let them make a handful of minor 5000% price increases on drugs invented 50 years ago and available for pennies on the dollar in every other country in the world? Nope, not those guys either.
The company with the most lobbyists regularly visiting the White House over the last 4 years, was a little silicon valley startup called Google.
Do I have your attention?
Here's what to do now:
Step 1: Read this book immediately. Step 2: Question everything.
Okay, maybe not everything. The weak spots in this book are mostly in the first half where the author (a famed former editor of the New Republic) rails bitterly against falling standards in his profession amid piracy and abundance. The author balances precariously here as he imagines himself stumbling upon some ancient economic law stating that an increase in supply somehow leads to an inevitable decrease in quality. No such law exists, and usually the opposite happens (i.e., if you want to find the most diamonds in the rough, it helps to start with a lot more rough). If you want more successes, you need to take more attempts, and that means you will have more misses too.
This book is really two books. The first half is a slow-burn oral history of the information age, and it completely undersells what’s about to hit you in the second half. The second half of the book is a rousing polemic that makes you realize suddenly that the pod people walk among us and you don’t even own a pair of katana blades to defend yourself. The second half of the book is a quadra-latte vascular injection into the orbicularis oculi muscles of your eyes. In other words, read it, and you shall be made to see the light.
14 of 15 people found this review helpful
World Without Mind accurately describes the critical crossroads that we as a culture find ourselves between technological and informational Utopia and authoritarianism. He provides specific examples and historical parallels that frame the current problem well. I can forgive him for being a bit of a romanticist about the paper book, but the points that he makes are completely valid. Media consumption should be a private, introspective affair. We need to recognize the value of dedicated, professional journalism, authorship and criticism. There are certain things that simply cannot be commodified. The most recent election is the best example of the manipulative power of social media. Not that Russian “hacking“ should not be investigated, but I think the much larger question is whether we as a country should permit there to be a system by which any power, corporate, governmental, foreign or domestic, may influence our democracy.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful