Adam Gopnik on New Books About the Internet

Feature-writer Adam Gopnik proffers an insightful roundup of recent book chatter about the Internet in the February 14 issue of The New Yorker. The piece, How the Internet Gets Inside Us, Gopnik corals the current book-buzz of Internet fretters and speculators into three categories:

“…the Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers, and the Ever-Wasers. The Never-Betters believe that we’re on the brink of a new utopia, where information will be free and democratic, news will be made from the bottom up, love will reign, and cookies will bake themselves. The Better-Nevers think that we would have been better off if the whole thing had never happened, that the world that is coming to an end is superior to the one that is taking its place, and that, at a minimum, books and magazines create private space for minds in ways that twenty-second bursts of information don’t. The Ever-Wasers insist that at any moment in modernity something like this is going on, and that a new way of organizing data and connecting users is always thrilling to some and chilling to others—that something like this is going on is exactly what makes it a modern moment.”

Books mentioned, grouped in the above categories respectively, are:

Cognitive Surplus, by Clay Shirky
Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?, edited by John Brockman
The Book in the Renaissance, by Andrew Pettegree
The Sixth Language, edited by Robert K. Logan
The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr
Hamlet’s BlackBerry, by William Powers
Alone Together, by Sherry Turkle

Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age, by Ann Blair

 

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