You Are Not a Gadget (but are we?)

You Are Not a Gadget is the title of a new book. Its subtitle is actually “A Manifesto” rather than “but are we?” The author is Jaron Lanier, described in the NY Times review of the book as “artist and computer scientist.”

Lanier sensibly notes that the “wisdom of crowds” is a tool that should be used selectively, not glorified for its own sake. Of Wikipedia he writes that… the site’s ethos ratifies the notion that the individual voice — even the voice of an expert — is eminently dispensable…

Lanier is most eloquent on how intellectual property is threatened by the economics of free Internet content, crowd dynamics and the popularity of aggregator sites.

Some of his descriptions of social media remind me of my own account of Twitter as clothes without an emperor. So his must be an individual voice worth heeding.

I found the review via Techmeme, where stories are selected “via computer algorithm extended with direct human input.” A Google search for “Jaron Lanier” currently shows the Wikipedia entry first, ahead of his own web page. Update: it was via Wikipedia that I found his Wired article, One-Half of a Manifesto.

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