Not a Gadget

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jaron Lanier has been a Silicon Valley visionary since the 1980s. He talks about the ways the World Wide has changed commerce and culture in good ways and bad. In his book You Are Not a Gadget, he looks at the Web’s creation and structure and the technical and cultural problems that can grow out of poor digital design.

Events: Jaron Lanier will be in conversation with Robert Krulwich and signing books
Thursday, January 14, at 8:00 pm
92nd Street Y
1395 Lexington Avenue, at 92nd Street
Tickets: $27.00
More information and tickets here.


Jaron Lanier

Comments [25]

Marcie D Terman from Guildford UK

Jaron while fascinating to listen to has a very jaundiced (in my opinion) 20th century view of the world. For instance, remuneration of musicians. It is a 20th century phenomena that we have Madonna earning a squillion dollars and her record company earning another squillion. I believe that there is a shift occurring and the dust hasn't settled. While it is just as likely that there will be superstars, perhaps there will be patronage to support their standard of living to the accustomed level. And the rest of the world will experience music more directly without middlemen. We are seeing that happen now and its going to be painful for Sony and Madonna. But paradigm shifts always are. Instead of bemoaning the movement of culture through technology, realise this has always been the case. It makes more sense to embrace the change and watch the change with interest. Perhaps a more positive view of humanity?

Jan. 22 2010 08:13 AM
gaetano catelli from downtown manhattan

re: "you wind up reducing artists and intellectuals to peasants."


Jan. 18 2010 09:06 PM
Barbara Kaslow from New York

I genuinely tried to listen to this man with interest.
However, I found his giggling, inside joke approach to be very disrespectful. Don't forget, as intimate as your interview setting is, you are speaking to the public.

Jan. 15 2010 02:14 PM
Artdis lives part time in Beijing from Beijing/NY/Canada

I live half time in Beijing and have direct experience with the Chinese people and Chinese government. Inside I have to have a Virtual Private Network to even do my own banking. The amount of information that is blocked is astounding and often arbitrary. Yes, it is China's own country, but for those of you who have not lived in such a situation, as I have, you have to see it to believe it. I agree with Google's action and am thrilled CyberSitter is suing China over appropriation of its code for the "Green Dam" failed censorship project. China wants want people like Jaron have: brilliance, original thought, etc. But if they keep information locked up, good luck.

Jan. 14 2010 10:54 PM
Steve from Hoboken, NJ

re: #10,

As the guest said, having machines do all (or much) of our work for us would be great as long as there is some kind of socialist system in place to provide for all the people who have no work to do. In certain respects, this is already an issue. Think of all the superfluous industries (i.e., manufacturing halloween costumes for pets) that exist in essence for the purpose of providing jobs so that people can participate in the economy. We don't even have enough work for everyone as it is. Yet the idea that the gov't pick up where the economy leaves off is anathema to so many. Instead we talk about "creating jobs", which in many cases is just a euphemism for make-work, which when it is gov't sponsored, is for all practical purposes, welfare.

Jan. 14 2010 01:32 PM
PL Hayes from Aberystwyth

Lanier was either being spectacularly ignorant or disingenuous in implying that FOSS has been (and is) all about mere copying of established - presumably proprietary - software.

I could write a long list of FOSS software applications and features which I have used and which have (or had) *no* proprietary equivalents, or I could write a list of software patent applications which parachronistically claim rights over FOSS originated 'inventions', but the complex and interesting truth about FOSS and innovation sure as hell isn't captured by Lanier's simplistic falsehood however you look at it.

Jan. 14 2010 01:09 PM

I definitely agree with most of what Mr. Lanier has spoken of, but I think it is important to note that MIDI really has come a long way, and its weaknesses have really diminished over the past 20 years. Yes, it is a prominent influence, but it has been getting less jagged over the years and is ever approaching a genuine synthesis of human performance.

Jan. 14 2010 12:53 PM
Sandra from Astoria, Queens

Wholeheartedly agree with #9.

I feel that the current economic crisis was caused, in part, by the internet colliding with capitalism. Traditional capitalist business models/revenue streams are dying, but the rich refuse to believe that their old ways of making money are over, so they are trying to hold on to profits by various measures such as cutting jobs, which only makes the economy worse (vicious cycle). We need to start looking at non-profit models--besides, profits only funnel up to the top 2% anyway.

Jan. 14 2010 12:40 PM
James from the Bronx

One of the best and worst things about the internet is that it cuts out the middle men, so only people who actually produce something of value receive the rewards. While this is good for the consumer, it is bad for the huge majority who add no value.

For instance, publishers who print "the classics" can be replaced entirely by an e-book reader and Project Gutenberg. What other jobs will those people get? Do they all need to become authors now?

Jan. 14 2010 12:36 PM
Laurie Spiegel from Tribeca

The real problems tech is posing that you're not discussing is how busy all this tech is keeping us, how mired in requirements to process and respond to a zillion communications a day, how we don't have time to stand back and process and think and imagine any more.

Jan. 14 2010 12:36 PM
Richard Johnston from Upper west side

The alternative keyboard has nothing to do with the renowned Czech composer, and is properly pronounced "duh-VOR-ack."

Jan. 14 2010 12:35 PM
Howard in Brooklyn from Brooklyn NY

Cloud computing=Time Sharing of old.
There was a reason that stand-alone micros took off....NOT TO BE TIED TO THE CENTRAL MACINE

Jan. 14 2010 12:35 PM
Amy from Manhattan

The title of Jared's book sums up the difference btwn. the Mac ads & the PC ads on TV. In the Mac ads, the actors are personifying the 2 brands of computers. In the PC ads, *actual people* are saying that *they* are the computers!--or in other words, "I am a gadget"! So thanks to Jared for arguing against this concept.

Jan. 14 2010 12:35 PM
Laurie Spiegel from Tribeca

MIDI in NOT "the universal way that music is described". It is one more additional way that music is described, an additional option.

Jan. 14 2010 12:31 PM
Kathy from NYC

How do you explain the success of Open Source development of software with regards to your negative take on the "wisdom of crowds"

Jan. 14 2010 12:29 PM
Jgarbuz from Queens, NY

What's wrong with a society where nobody works and machines do everything for us? Wasn't that the goal of the aristocracies since the beginning of civilization? That is to have slaves do everything for them/ And if we have robot slaves who do it all for us, what's wrong with that. Humans were consumers before they were producers, when they foraged for their food.
I'm sure everyone will find their own hobbies to amuse themselves with.

Jan. 14 2010 12:27 PM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Your discussion miss’s the point and that is capitalism itself. The drive to be monopolistic, the drive for more profits.
With out an examination of both the economy and political systems that fuel's the internet one ends up dancing around the periphery of the real subject namely capitalism

Jan. 14 2010 12:24 PM
Laurie Spiegel from Tribeca

Jaron, what tech has done to (or for) music can only be said to be a failure (which you just said) if you're focus is economic.

Tech has restored music back in favor of those who are who are into music as experience rather than asset, who are into it for love of music per se.

Jan. 14 2010 12:23 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Well, usually you can turn off the "helpful" features you don't want, but you have to figure out how to do that. (I had to turn off auto-capitalization after periods, which kept capping the word after an abbreviation!) I'd like 1 control for these things that pops up the 1st time & lets you accept all the default settings, turn them all off, or choose which ones you want. Of course, when it came to Clippy, I wanted a choice under "Do you want to:" that would say, "Make me go away and NEVER COME BACK!!" Preferably w/a couple of obscenities thrown in.

Jan. 14 2010 12:21 PM
Paul from Brooklyn, NY

Please ask your guest about the contribution of Free Open Source Software, such as Open Office and Linux, whereby software code is released on the internet and not locked up inside corporate vaults.
Thank you.

Jan. 14 2010 12:20 PM
Sarah from Kensington

Thank you for comment on advertising!!! I can't believe somebody finally said it. Most people begin arguing under the assumption that there's no other viable option.

One magazine - the Economist - is like a model for something that doesn't rely exclusively on advertising for revenue. And they're doing alright.

Jan. 14 2010 12:18 PM
David Hume from Staten Island, NY

Since lots of things are free on the internet. Does that inherently make everyone on the net an Amateur? Is it killing professionals?


Jan. 14 2010 12:17 PM
Betty Anne from UES

Hasn't Marshall McCluhan already predicted what is happening? An end of privacy, and though it seems disconnecting we are growing closer together by way of technology.

Jan. 14 2010 12:14 PM
Giuseppe from Italy

With regard to culture and web technology, there is a recent case about google in China. Do you think google should respect China's culture and politics or google is trying to shape China's culture and politics? And politics is also a part of culture, right?

Jan. 14 2010 11:45 AM
rock from Hoboken

Dear guest, please shed your light on Google's recent move toward the hard censorship in China, pointer as below.

Does it make sense to you that such political issue is avoiding a quarter of the population in the world accessing the most up-to-date technology and the best knowledge base of humankind?


Jan. 14 2010 11:38 AM

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