Digital tools have a mind of their own: yours


Thanks for this. The Thoreau quote is priceless. But, with all due respect to Howard Rheingold, the phrase “tool of thought” goes back at least as far as Kenneth Iverson’s highly influential 1979 ACM Turing Award lecture “Notation as a Tool of Thought”.

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I guess there are three points in there, but after I finished reading I had to go back and double-check if this blurb was actually saying anything at all.

But the Thoreau quote is quite nice, at least.


The superfluity of publishing in the academic world has served to solidify the power and control of editors for the so-called “real” journals that matter when it comes to tenure and promotion. Follow the leaders, or challenge them very carefully in a prescribed, “acceptable” fashion.

Where it leads in the social sciences is cliques of like-minded “scholars” arguing about minutiae that is largely irrelevant to “science”, and wholly irrelevant to the general public.

Not sure it hasn’t always been this way. We all know that journals which only “publish” online might puff up a vitae, but as far as advancing one’s career they aren’t worth the electrons which they’re made of.

I think it’s just part of the intro for the book. It would have been nice if it actually included a thesis statement, though, or something that hints at “how technology is changing our minds for the better.”

I also looked at the Amazon summary, which is a lot more useful . Found this gem: “as in the past, we adapt—learning to use the new and retaining what’s good of the old.” I’m hardly a nostalgist, but that’s wrong on the face of it. It does seem a fitting claim for a book that’s advertised as endorsing the (very problematic) “there have always been concerns about new technology, and they were always wrong” narrative.

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