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Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology Paperback – Mar 31 1993

3.7 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (March 31 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679745408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679745402
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #64,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Neil Postman is one of the most level-headed analysts of education, media, and technology, and in this book he spells out the increasing dependence upon technology, numerical quantification, and misappropriation of "Scientism" to all human affairs. No simple technophobe, Postman argues insightfully and writes with a stylistic flair, profound sense of humor, and love of language increasingly rare in our hastily scribbled e-mail-saturated world.

From Publishers Weekly

Mixing provocative insights and cliched criticisms, Postman defines the U.S. as a society in which technology is deified to a near-totalitarian degree.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I love technology. I tell you this, even though it must be obvious to you considering where these words are appearing. I love technology, but I'm not blind to its problems. To those who say technology has no faults, I ask you when was the last time your computer crashed or whatever happened to that grand notion of a "paperless office"? Technology is something between Pandora's box and Prometheus' gift; I would not want to live without it because I've read history, but I can also imagine an even better world.
Neil Postman may or may not love technology, but he certainly knows its failings. Postman is the author of several books on the interplay between American culture and technology, and his most recent, Technopoly, is in some ways a culmination of his previous efforts. Postman is an educator who is distressed by the state of American education. Instead of simply decrying the fact that schools are changing and moaning for a return to the "good ol' days," Postman took the time to understand the nature of the beast, dissect it, and present his conservation strategy. As he states, his idea of getting "back to the basics" is not quite the same as that typically bandied about by politicians and policy makers.
First, the argument. Postman describes what he calls the three stages of how a culture deals with technology: 1) tool-using, 2) technocracy, 3) technopoly. In a tool-using culture, technical improvements are limited to the uses at hand. This differs from the technocracy, where the tools "play a central role in the thought world of the culture." In the technopoly, tools become the culture. Astute readers may sense a possible linkage here with Alvin Toffler's three waves of culture detailed in The Third Wave.
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Format: Paperback
Marshall McLuhan observed the medium is the message. Postman's argument is along similar lines as suggested in the subtitle of this book, "the surrender of culture to technology." He begins with a legend and goes into a question about how we learn in our culture. The introductory section is followed in the next chapter by a look at the tools that paved the way for industrialization and later the information age. In the third chapter, Postman makes a poignant observation, in discussing the assumptions made by Frederick W. Taylor in his classic book on scientific management i.e., "human judgment cannot be trusted, because it is plagued by laxity, ambiguity, and unneccesary complexity; that subjectivity is an obstacle to clear thinking..." (p. 51).
His lucid examination of ideas, inventions, and public adaption continues. In the fourth chapter the quote that stood out most for me was one from H. L. Mencken who said "there is no idea so stupid that you can't find a professor who will believe it" (p. 57). I've been in academe long enough to verify that that observation remains the same now as when it was first written.
Anyone who has ever been the victim of the fill-in-the-blank mentality of bureaucratic thinking can appreciate Postman's comment that "the invention of the standaradized form--a staple of bureaucracy--allows for the 'destruction' of every nuance and detail of a situation" (p. 84). To make his point even stronger, he goes on to define a bureaucrat as "little else than a glorified counter" (p. 86).
Postman never fails to leave his readers with a perspective they didn't have before picking up one of his books. Read this one and learn a little more about how technology is shaping your perceptions often without your awareness.
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Format: Paperback
Cultural critic Neil Postman goes after what he calls technolopy which is essentially a "self-justifying, self-perpetuating system wherein technology of every kind is cheerfully granted
sovereingty over social institutions and national life."
Postman is not by any means an luddite but he wants us to be aware of how technology has shaped our society,and epistemology. Often not for the better in many respects.
We live in a society that does not use machines but is more and more used by them. It shapes our world view. Postman attempts to trace it's effect on us from the beginning. Overall he does a fine a job. Although a easy read many of the topics require closer scrutiny and thinking. Which is good, he wants you to think about whats happening not just accept what he has to say.
In one chapter he roasts the medical industry's infatuation with new technology while the doctors neglect their patients. Patients invariably are reduced to slabs of meat on a assembly line. He makes the salient point that information is not understanding, which is usually ignored by most promoters of technopoly.
Another chapter deals with 'scientism' which is science distorted into a intolerant fundamentalist belief system and its effects on our society. This chapter is his most humorous as he disects some the masters of the obvious(Dilbert like scientists who think they have discovered something profound but what most people on the street already know)Like people are afraid of death and that open minded people tend to be open minded. That's right Ph.d's have done studies to prove these notions! Perhaps a better title for this chapter would have been "the marching morons of science."
The last chapter deals on how to resist technology in our daily lives.
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