Three Books Summarized

By | June 5, 2007

I recently read three books which were interesting. The first was, The Control Revolution: How the Internet is Putting Individuals in Charge and Changing the World We Know by Andrew L. Shapiro. It looks at some of the things which the internet allows people to do, and some of the ways it has been used. It looks at the consequences of the internet, and what some of the drawbacks maybe. It is good to see that, in addition to all of the benefits of the internet, there are also problems to take into account.

The second book was Disconnected America: The Consequences of Mass Media in a Narcissistic World by Ed Shane. He examines how our intake of media has evolved, and the consequences of the current way we experience media. We have gone from experiencing things linearly to experiencing them as a montage. It was also interesting how he pointed out that a single issue of the New York Times (for example) contains more information than the average person would encounter in a life time in the middle ages.

The third book I read was The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstruction of Social Order by Francis Fukuyama. He examined how the shift from an industrial based economy to an information based economy beginning around the sixties disrupted culture and society. Much of the book centered around “social capital” or the amount of trust and cooperation that comes from a group of people with certain shared beliefs and values. He explains how shifts in technology and economics changed society, and lead to a decline in social capital, which itself lead to things such as declining morality. One thing he sees is what he refers to as a shrinking “radius of trust”. That is, the group of people one trusts has become smaller.

All together, while they have different focuses, these books have certain themes in common. That is, while there has been many good things which technology has allowed for, there are certainly problems which it has brought as well, problems which we need to aware of and which we should consider how we might handle them.

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