#BIT15Reads: The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr

The Glass Cage: Automation and UsThe Glass Cage: Automation and Us by Nicholas Carr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like most people with an urban mindset, Nicholas Carr’s point of view focuses on being able to purchase goods and services at his fingertips. This is why, once again, his writing alienates people like me…people who live in a rural area and still do things like drive standard, grow food, filter water, use a map, and other non-automated tasks as part of my every day living. Carr believes that advances in the automaticity of machines we use is making us more and more helpless. Carr ramps up the paranoia by harping on pilots on autopilot, the number of screens he touches in a day, and how machines are starting to change our behaviour. Carr has a love/hate relationship with technology and seems to worry incessantly that he is a victim of the designer/manufacturer’s economics and politics. True, my morning muesli doesn’t contain enough dried papaya for my taste, but I am totally capable of adding more! I much prefer to hear about his arguments that technological design rarely suits the user and that as consumers we need to keep voicing our opinions. Save your energy for a worthier book that explores technology in a less-biased way.

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#BIT15Reads: Passionate disagreement

“….ideas that inspire passionate disagreement can lead to success” (Clive Veroni, Spin, p. 27)

At last I’ve found a common thread between three #BIT15Reads books (two books is easy).  Veroni says that modern marketing has finally understood that being really disagreeable, can also make you memorable and he goes on to say that politicians have known this for years.  Spin is such a great book to be reading at the same time as a national election is happening as it spins the motivation behind every political sentence right now.

The data in Christian Rudder’s Dataclysm agrees. Rudder is the co-founder of OkCupid, a major matchmaking site in the U.S., and his fascinating book explains what our data can tell us when we’re not looking.  It also says that the most extreme answers often get the most attention either because they passionately disagree or maybe because they disagree passionately.  I can certainly attest that the fact that a certain significant male in my life first drew my attention by NOT reading the required books in our common Canadian Children’s Literature class and then argued vehemently for issues that he had no basis for.  (See? Still stirs me up.) According to Rudder, there are two polarizing questions to ask a potential mate:

  • Do you like scary movies?
  • Have you ever travelled alone to another country?

See what I mean?  The answers to these questions move me immediately to that deal breaker clause…..or do they?  Because what I most admire in other people is also what I am also looking to improve in myself.

So that’s the reason that I’m also currently reading (in audiobook) Nicholas Carr’s book The Glass Cage….because Carr makes me crazy.  His hyperbolic style of using ancient history to prove a very modern point makes me feel nauseated and foolish.  I say to myself: how could I not see this doomsday he speaks of coming?  Our reliance on the machine has been centuries in the making.  So despite my attraction for all things shiny and new, the archivist in me says: Yes, let’s slow down the automation and mindfully work to become more self-reliant.  I hate Carr and his smug smile because his skepticism is irritatingly well-grounded and his arguments push back all of my knee-jerk impulses to forge blindly ahead.

On that note: please if you’re reading any one of the fabulous #BIT15Reads choices, it is time for us to whittle down our list by rating your reading.  Please do so here in the long form version of “how many stars?” here:
http://goo.gl/forms/r3Y84tpveK