Am I a gadget?

by Rob Horning

19 February 2010


Elsewhere on the site I have a review of Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget. I’m not much of a fan, basically because I don’t buy into the argument that creators are motivated solely by property rights, nor do I see remix culture as derivative garbage. On that point, I recommend Julian Sanchez’s video piece on the evolution of remix culture. I do agree with Lanier though about how trying to capture things like friendship in digital code is reductive and destructive, locking concepts into “lossy” frameworks, to borrow from codec-speak. Certain aspects of human relationships are ineffable, though we sometimes pretend they aren’t, as Lanier points out, for convenience’ sake. The ineffable parts resist processing, but processing is increasingly what we must do to deal with the surfeit of information available to us. In that regard, Lanier is absolutely right: we should not aspire to become more like computers, no matter how useful we may come to find them.

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