Review: Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget


You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto
Jaron Lanier

Lock-in is apparently a concept well known among engineers, but I was unfamiliar with it until this book. It’s worth thinking about. Basically, the concept is that in large complex systems, simple, often arbitrary, decisions can have long lasting effects, which when compounded, can limit the possibilities for future use of the system.

The example Lanier gives is midi. A tool which was originally intended to assist in the control of keyboards by computers is now so ingrained in all electronic music, that it has limited the ability of artists to rethink the way music sounds on the internet thereby “locking in” the way we hear most music. It’s a compelling concept, and one I’m thinking about a lot in my own work, where I’m attempting to be more thoughtful in my decisions to allow for greater flexibility going forward.

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About seanv2

Scholar, gentleman, jock. I run the website Milo and the Calf. There you will find the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire where runners share their stories of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. You'll also find my thoughts on endurance sports, ancient history, Judaism, and hundreds of book reviews.
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