Jay Bookman knows what I'm talking about. Actually, he's not as schizoid about it as I am. I swing from anti-anything-artificial reactionary in the woods to true-believer digerati at home. He has actually done the hard, honest work of figuring out how technology helps and hinders us, how it expands and diminishes us, and what we become as we interact with our own creations. (He also has managed to rationalize adding folding lounge chairs and large coolers of cold beer to his camping supplies.)
In Caught in the Current, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution deputy editorial page editor uses his annual river rafting trip -- five days without a cell phone, laptop, Blackberry, e-mail account, television or even a newspaper -- to ruminate on the Technological Age. He looks for answers in the survival strategies of rainbow trout, the standing waves of whitewater, the acoustics of a canyon during a thunderstorm, and the rough and tumble male-bonding adventures of his five-member crew.
The book starts a little slow, or maybe that's just my amped-up instant-info urban doppelganger talking. But once he settles into the river's flow, Bookman goes deep, drawing on the insights of scientists, philosophers, historians, technology gurus and the aforementioned fish. Our culture, Bookman says, is lagging behind our inventions, overwhelming our ability to understand what we have wrought or cope with the consequences.
How do we recompile human values into these new networked nodes of "hyper-individualists," keeping us feeble meat-space creators afloat in the binary flood? Race to catch up? Row backward against the flow? Like the smarter fish, Bookman suggests, we need to spend more time in the river's still eddies, taking the current's best gifts and leaving the rest to float on by.-- Thomas Bell
Caught in the Current: Searching for Simplicity in the Technological Age by Jay Bookman. $23.95. St. Martin's Press. 240 pages.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
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