Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology

by Neil Postman
Vintage Books, 222 Pages
ISBN: 0679745408

Postman's books are typically social critiques of one form or another, and this volume is no different. The underlying theme is that the modern culture of technology worship, of accepting technological advances as unquestionably good without examining their possible ramifications is questionable at best, and terribly destructive at worst.

The author begins by quoting Plato in discussing the destructive and not widely thought-of consequences of a fundamental techology: Writing. From there, he examines the almost religious way in which new technologies are accepted unquestioningly without any concern about future problems said technologies may create. Keep in mind, this book was written before the widespread use of the Internet. Even with armed with that knowledge, the book loses nothing in spite of the advances--or, perhaps, embraces--made since the book was written.

He spends a good deal of time discussing the difference between Technocracy, which is the rule of technology controlled by the elite (such as in the Industrial Age), and Technopoly, where technology itself reigns supreme, and the keepers of said technologies are almost priestlike in their depiction. Fortunately, Postman avoids the neo-Luddite tendencies of most books of this nature. He examines a number of technology related problems with an open mind but fails to damn anything as unfixable.

Postman is also an educator, and examines the effects of technological advances in the classroom as well as in the rest of society. In true critic style, though, he grasps about for a solution in the final chapter and fails to find one with any meaning. This is the only real drawback of the book.

If you are interested in a well-written critique of the technological supremacy we find ourselves surrounded by on a daily basis, I highly suggest reading this book. As I stated before, it provides few answers, but it may open your eyes and cause you to examine your surroundings in a different light.

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