Franklin Foer wrote a book called, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech. I read it last week and want to share a few thoughts about it. If you use Facebook, Google, or Amazon (ok, so like everybody), then you might wanna read this.
World Without Mind is written like a long argument with lots of details. I found it to be a fairly quick and easy read. And I found it on Apple Books for only $5!
As I read, I sometimes thought, “Man, I’m glad I didn’t buy this eBook from Amazon.” But then I posted stuff about it on Goodreads, which Amazon owns, so now they still know what I was reading and can use that data in threatening ways. If you don’t see the connection or are unsure how this is a big deal, then you should read World Without Mind.
But maybe buy the paperback or borrow it from the library. Foer says returning to paper, going analog, is one of the ways in which to defang the threats the digital overlords of Big Tech.
“Big Tech” refers to the massive monopolistic money making machines we know as Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Apple and Twitter are not talked about much in the book. The main thing the first three have in common is their advertisement based revenue.
The whole book is somewhat similar to Neil Postman’s, Amusing Ourselves To Death. But where Postman’s work is about the technology of Television and how it threatens literacy and critical thinking, Foer’s work is about the technology of the Internet and how it threatens literacy, democracy, privacy, journalistic integrity, and even liberty.
Really, though, it’s less the internet and more the few companies who act as portals or gatekeepers of the internet. For many, like AOL in the 90’s, Facebook itself is the internet. So the free and open web is threatened by Big Tech as they have grown so big, they practically are the web’s walled gardens, making a closed and curated internet.
But the curation does not have the users’ best interest in mind. It is to tailor content that’s marketable, sensational, addictive, and attention grabbing, not to enrich our lives but to enrich big tech’s pocketbooks. It’s capitalism without conscience yet not without consequence.
World Without Mind is written kinda like a personal polemic, and it hammers home the threat of Big Tech against journalism in particular. There’s a few things in there about blogging too!
But you’ve probably heard of the popularity and ubiquity of 4 or 5 big tech companies that run or ruin our lives: Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft. There have been many articles written about their big size and control and dangers. Something they have in common is the commodity of our personal data.
Here’s a few articles for example:
For what it’s worth, I’m not good at reviewing books. But I hope the few things I shared about World Without Mind piqued your interest. If you follow technology at all, then you’ll likely find this book intriguing. So I recommend you pick it up today for your next read!
Of the big tech companies, which one do you use or rely on the most? Facebook, Amazon, Google? Leave me a comment. Or send me some eMail. Thanks for your time!