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Utopia Is Creepy

Cover of Utopia Is Creepy

Utopia Is Creepy

And Other Provocations
Borrow Borrow

A freewheeling, sharp-shooting indictment of a tech-besotted culture.

With a razor wit, Nicholas Carr cuts through Silicon Valley's unsettlingly cheery vision of the technological future to ask a hard question: Have we been seduced by a lie? Gathering a decade's worth of posts from his blog, Rough Type, as well as his seminal essays, Utopia Is Creepy offers an alternative history of the digital age, chronicling its roller-coaster crazes and crashes, its blind triumphs, and its unintended consequences.

Carr's favorite targets are those zealots who believe so fervently in computers and data that they abandon common sense. Cheap digital tools do not make us all the next Fellini or Dylan. Social networks, diverting as they may be, are not vehicles for self-enlightenment. And "likes" and retweets are not going to elevate political discourse. When we expect technologies—designed for profit—to deliver a paradise of prosperity and convenience, we have forgotten ourselves. In response, Carr offers searching assessments of the future of work, the fate of reading, and the rise of artificial intelligence, challenging us to see our world anew.

In famous essays including "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" and "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Privacy," Carr dissects the logic behind Silicon Valley's "liberation mythology," showing how technology has both enriched and imprisoned us—often at the same time. Drawing on artists ranging from Walt Whitman to the Clash, while weaving in the latest findings from science and sociology, Utopia Is Creepy compels us to question the technological momentum that has trapped us in its flow. "Resistance is never futile," argues Carr, and this book delivers the proof.

A freewheeling, sharp-shooting indictment of a tech-besotted culture.

With a razor wit, Nicholas Carr cuts through Silicon Valley's unsettlingly cheery vision of the technological future to ask a hard question: Have we been seduced by a lie? Gathering a decade's worth of posts from his blog, Rough Type, as well as his seminal essays, Utopia Is Creepy offers an alternative history of the digital age, chronicling its roller-coaster crazes and crashes, its blind triumphs, and its unintended consequences.

Carr's favorite targets are those zealots who believe so fervently in computers and data that they abandon common sense. Cheap digital tools do not make us all the next Fellini or Dylan. Social networks, diverting as they may be, are not vehicles for self-enlightenment. And "likes" and retweets are not going to elevate political discourse. When we expect technologies—designed for profit—to deliver a paradise of prosperity and convenience, we have forgotten ourselves. In response, Carr offers searching assessments of the future of work, the fate of reading, and the rise of artificial intelligence, challenging us to see our world anew.

In famous essays including "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" and "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Privacy," Carr dissects the logic behind Silicon Valley's "liberation mythology," showing how technology has both enriched and imprisoned us—often at the same time. Drawing on artists ranging from Walt Whitman to the Clash, while weaving in the latest findings from science and sociology, Utopia Is Creepy compels us to question the technological momentum that has trapped us in its flow. "Resistance is never futile," argues Carr, and this book delivers the proof.

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About the Author-
  • Nicholas Carr is the author of The Shallows, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and The Glass Cage, among other books. Former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, he has written for The Atlantic, the New York Times, and Wired. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    June 15, 2016
    Popular technology guru Carr (The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, 2014, etc.) offers a skeptical chronicle of the wonders of the digital revolution.Since 2005, the author has kept running tabs on our high-tech age on his blog Rough Type, where he considers and sometimes eviscerates the latest overblown claims of the gods of Silicon Valley. In this bright, fun, telling book, he gathers 80 engaging blog posts from some 1,600 published through 2015, plus a selection of essays and reviews from the Atlantic and elsewhere. "We may blow kisses to agrarians like Jefferson and tree-huggers like Thoreau, but we put our faith in Edison and Ford, Gates and Zuckerberg," writes Carr. "It is the technologists who shall lead us." While tech leaders have promised a new world (with Bill Gates "still pitching a 'digital lifestyle' that nobody wants"), the author makes clear his own penchant for "tools for exploring and enjoying the world that is." He takes strong exception to innumerable claims made for the internet: that it has liberated us from couch-potato lives ("horseshit"), raised us to a higher consciousness, spurred serendipity, and given us splendid gifts in Wikipedia ("a hodge-podge of dubious factoids") and Twitter ("the medium of Narcissus"). Occasioned by his own observations and a close reading of new studies and books, Carr holds forth on major issues of the past decade, including copyright, innovation, online courses, e-books, video games, artificial intelligence, privacy, online sharing, automation, raising the virtual child, and smartphones. Throughout, his emphasis is on the human side of life in a digitized world. "The desire for privacy is strong; vanity is stronger," he writes of Facebook's business model. And: "Who you are is what you do between notifications." Included are such notable essays as "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" Some entries are slight, most others are nuanced and satisfying. A collection that reminds us that critical thinking is the best way to view the mixed blessings of rampant technology. A treat for Carr fans.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    June 15, 2016

    In this compilation from the past decade, Carr (The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains) presents a selection of nearly 80 posts from his Rough Type blog, several magazine articles and book excerpts, and an original essay on transhumanism. It is easy to trace his technoskepticism through these writings and the warnings that as technology is being sold with utopian zeal, people are often blinded to the business interests that are quietly reshaping our culture and values. Carr's wry take on new technologies from Wikipedia to Google Glass, and his critiques of tech writers' and CEOs' frequent hyperbole may seem curmudgeonly, but they never descend into neo-Luddite territory. He enjoys deflating grand claims and reinforces the idea that the boons of technology come with costs as well. He urges readers to consider that much of what technology offers is only the illusion of control and that human agency and choice may in fact be diminished by such inventions. Though these same themes are explored in his other books and on his blog, it is convenient to have Carr's curated writings in one volume. VERDICT This highly browsable collection will hold great appeal for anyone interested in the social aspects of technology, from tech lovers to pre-Internet nostalgists.--Wade M. Lee, Univ. of Toledo Lib.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Sally Adee;New Scientist [F]ull of wry vignettes and articles lampooning the motivated enthusiasm and game-changing promises of Silicon Valley's tech bro elite... by turns cute, funny or chilling. And it's more than the sum of its parts.
  • Kirkus Reviews (Starred review) A collection that reminds us that critical thinking is the best way to view the mixed blessings of rampant technology. A treat for Carr fans.
  • Richard Cytowic;New York Journal of Books Carr's best hits for those who missed the last decade of his stream of thoughtful commentary about our love affair with technology and its effect on our relationships.
  • Discover Magazine Carr, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, takes on modern life's short attention spans and worship of the superficial in a . . . rapid-fire volley of ideas deceptively designed to engage at a depth greater than 140 characters. By turns wry and revelatory, and occasionally maddening, Carr succeeds at shaking the reader out of screen-zombie complacency.
  • Library Journal This highly browsable collection will hold great appeal for anyone interested in the social aspects of technology, from tech lovers to pre-Internet nostalgists.
  • Rana Foroohar;Time The prescient Nicholas Carr punches a hole in Silicon Valley hubris.
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Utopia Is Creepy
And Other Provocations
Nicholas Carr
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