Untangling the Web (英語) ペーパーバック – 2013/7/4
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The World Wide Web is the most revolutionary innovation of our time. In the last decade, it has utterly transformed our lives. But what real effects is it having on our social world? What does it mean to be a modern family when dinner table conversations take place over smartphones? What happens to privacy when we readily share our personal lives with friends and corporations? Are our Facebook updates and Twitterings inspiring revolution or are they just a symptom of our global narcissism? What counts as celebrity, when everyone can have a following or be a paparazzo? And what happens to relationships when love, sex and hate can be mediated by a computer? Social psychologist Aleks Krotoski has spent a decade untangling the effects of the Web on how we work, live and play. In this groundbreaking book, she uncovers how much humanity has - and hasn't - changed because of our increasingly co-dependent relationship with the computer. In Untangling the Web, she tells the story of how the network became woven in our lives, and what it means to be alive in the age of the Internet.
Aleks Krotoski is an academic and journalist who writes about and studies technology and interactivity. She is currently a Visiting Fellow in the Media and Communications Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute. Aleks writes for the Guardian and Observer, and hosts Tech Weekly, their technology podcast. In 2010 she presented the Emmy- and Bafta-winning BBC 2 series Virtual Revolution, about the social history of the World Wide Web. Her writing appears in Nature, BBC Technology, New Statesman, MIT Technology Review and the Telegraph. She is also the New Media Sector Champion for UKTI, the government department that promotes British businesses around the world.
As a long-time technophile, I experienced two reactions while reading the book: I wasn't surprised by the findings, but I found the book at its most compelling when Aleks explored the science behind what I "believed" I already knew. That's a deft writing trick, writing for a general audience while introducing enough geeky science to keep me interested.
If I was describing its audience for this book, I'd say this was for people who were interested in the Web and concerned about what it was doing to us because of the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that appears so often in Big Media writing. I'd happily give this to my mom on Friday, and expect that she'd have read it by Sunday night. (I say that as my mother is a voracious reader, and is interested in why things are the way they are.)
The book is a series of essays that deconstruct the concerns people express about technology in general and the Web in specific. It's divided into four parts -- Untangling Me, Untangling Us, Untangling Society, and Untangling the Future -- each of which explores individual ideas that you've heard people discuss. Without pandering or writing down to the reader, Aleks weaves short, personal anecdotes with social science to explore the what we know and what we don't know about the Web.
When I wrote for Wired many years ago, I often found myself debating with those who felt technology was bringing ruin to our society. As such, I found the "Untangling Us" section, which includes essays on sex, kids on the Internet, friends in social networks, dating, and hate groups, the most compelling. Aleks approaches each with an even hand, exploring the issues in great depth but always with an eye on the practical experience of the reader.
That narrative approach is not an easy task. Writers such as Malcolm Gladwell have sacrificed the science for narrative, painting pictures that don't mesh with what we know. Aleks is a trained scientist and a writer, though, and her knowledge of both the science and the narrative structures are apparent. The writing is lively and thought-provoking.
If you're interesting in understanding why you feel the way you do about the Web and its social nature, pick up Untangling the Web. You'll understand the digital world around you just a little bit better.