10 October 2003
Resisting the technological tide
The late Neil Postman was not a Luddite; while he decried the encroachment of technology, particularly media technology, he believed strongly in the ability of the human mind to deal with the sort of sensory overload which defined the last half-century or so.
Among observers of the media, Postman generally took second place behind Marshall McLuhan. But while McLuhan tended to stay on message (and therefore on the medium), Postman was all over the map. An educator by trade, his first shot across society's bow was Teaching as a Subversive Activity, written with frequent collaborator Charles Weingarten and published in 1969, a book which asks the ultimate question about education: "What's worth knowing?" (An excerpt is posted here.) The Disappearance of Childhood (1982) suggested that mass media were blurring the lines between children and adults, to the benefit of neither; Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985) blasted Hollywood for trivializing the human experience.
Former student Jay Rosen remembers Neil Postman in Salon this morning. It's worth some of your time.
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