Archives For Technology

 

“Shaping and Being Shaped

A Review of
The Shallows:
What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

By Nicholas Carr
.

Reviewed by Jonathan Schindler.

The Shallows:
What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

By Nicholas Carr
.
Hardback: W.W. Norton, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

THE SHALLOWS - Nicholas CarrIn The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr fittingly quotes John Culkin: “We shape our tools, and thereafter they shape us” (210). Culkin’s observation and Carr’s article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” provide the thesis for The Shallows: The Internet is changing us for the worse.

Carr’s argument begins with anecdotal evidence. After frequent Internet use, he suspected that his mind was changing. He could no longer read lengthy articles and books with the same attention he was once able to devote. Was the Internet really causing this?

Carr provides several neurological studies and historical examples to prove the first part of his thesis. The neurological studies were especially fascinating, illustrating “neuroplasticity,” our brain’s ability to adapt to new situations and stimuli. (For example, people who have lost use of one of their senses often have their other senses heightened. The brain rewires itself, forming new connections, so that what was formerly used for the now-dormant sense can be used to boost the other, still-operating senses.) Another aspect of neuroplasticity is that the more an action is performed, the more connections between neurons are formed, and the skill is solidified. Repeated actions form habits, basically. From these more modern studies, Carr moves on to historical examples (the map, clock, and book, as well as others) in which new technologies changed behavior and the way people thought. He paraphrases Marshall McLuhan in saying that “technologies numb the very faculties they amplify. . . . alienation is an inevitable by-product of the use of technology” (212). By becoming used to a tool that makes things easier, we risk losing the skills and relationship with the work that we had before the tool.

Continue Reading…

 

“The Church and the Influences of Media”

A Review of
The Medium and the Light:
Reflections on Religion.
By Marshall McLuhan
.

Reviewed by Adam Newton.


The Medium and the Light:
Reflections on Religion.
Marshall McLuhan
.
Paperback: Wipf and Stock, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

THE MEDIUM AND THE LIGHT - Marshall McLuhanI would assert that more people are generally familiar with the phrase, “The medium is the message,” than they are with the name of the man who originally coined the concept. Marshall McLuhan, the late University Of Toronto professor and thinker, renowned in his time for his ground-breaking insights into media and communications theory, has developed since his passing a rather feverish cult following, mostly due to the writings of his protégés, most notably those of Neil Postman –  especially his seminal Amusing Ourselves To Death. What most people, including myself until recently, never understood about McLuhan was how he was able to reconcile his theoretical musings on how humanity absorbs media with his Roman Catholicism.

Enter The Medium And The Light, a collection of articles, letters, essays, and speeches from McLuhan’s archives that have been brought together and edited by Eric McLuhan and Jacek Szklarek. This cross-section of correspondence and conversations readily and aptly illuminates how McLuhan was able to balance his theology with his educational training and scholarly work. In fact, we learn early on in that he converted to Roman Catholicism as a result of reading and dissecting key medieval tomes while studying for and writing his doctoral thesis on the history of the trivium (rhetoric, dialectic, and grammar).  Split into four distinct parts – “Conversion,” “The Church’s Understanding Of Media,” “Vatican II, Liturgy, And The Media,” and “Tomorrow’s Church” – the book makes the case for how McLuhan unapologetically allowed his spiritual beliefs to infiltrate his media studies and vice versa.

Continue Reading…

 

The NY Review of Books Reviews
Although Of Course  You End Up Becoming Yourself:
A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/jul/15/smarter-you-think/

“What I would love to do is a profile of one of you guys who’s doin’ a profile of me,” David Foster Wallace told the journalist David Lipsky in 1996 during a series of conversations now collected as Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace. “It would be a way,” Wallace continued, “for me to get some of the control back”:

You can’t tell outright lies that I’ll then deny to the fact checker. But…you’re gonna be able to shape this essentially how you want. And that to me is extremely disturbing…. I want to be able to try and shape and manage the impression of me that’s coming across.

As Lipsky tells us in his introduction, he loved Wallace’s idea of profiling the profilers:

It would have been one of the deluxe internal surveys he specialized in—the unedited camera, the feed before the director in the van starts making cuts and choices…. That’s what this book would like to be. It’s the one way of writing about him I don’t think David would have hated.

Read the full review:
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/jul/15/smarter-you-think/

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself:
A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace.
Paperback: Broadway Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]


A Review of Taming the Beloved Beast:
How Medical Technology Costs Are
Destroying Our Health Care System

http://www.issues.org/26.3/br_demello.html

Daniel Callahan’s Taming the Beloved Beast: How Medical Technology Costs are Destroying Our Health Care System is both more and less than the title implies. More, in that it is a blunt, thought-provoking view of medical culture that raises difficult but essential questions about our values and public policy. Less, in that it lacks depth and nuance in its treatment of technology, limiting its utility in evaluating short-term policy issues. It is a particularly interesting read in this time of acrimonious health reform debate.

Callahan’s main focus is not technology per se but rather the evolution and prospects of the U.S. health care system as a whole. The challenge is formidable because the starting point is “a messy system, one ill-designed for reform because of the accretion of assorted interest groups with different agendas and vested interests, an ideologically divided public, and a steady stream of new and expensive technologies added to those already in place.”


Read the full review:
http://www.issues.org/26.3/br_demello.html

Taming the Beloved Beast:
How Medical Technology Costs Are Destroying
Our Health Care System
.
Daniel Callahan.
Hardcover: Princeton University Press, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]


Lauren Winner reviews
Allegra Goodman’s new novel THE COOKBOOK COLLECTOR
for BOOKS AND CULTURE.

http://booksandculture.com/articles/webexclusives/2010/june/winner063010.html

Having tackled the ethics and mores of the lab in Intuition, Allegra Goodman turns to the ethics and mores of the late-90s dot.com bubble in what I think is her best novel yet, The Cookbook Collector. I say her best novel yet in part because, often, it takes me a while to start caring about Goodman characters; here they had me from the first chapter.

Read the full review:
http://booksandculture.com/articles/webexclusives/2010/june/winner063010.html

The Cookbook Collector: A Novel.
Allegra Goodman.
Hardback: The Dial Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

 

In our continuing effort to fund the publication and free distribution of The Englewood Review, we are going to be collaborating more intentionally with Christian Book Distributors. Primarily, we will be offering you the opportunity to buy bargain books from CBD that we think of are interest. Buying books this way is a win / win / win proposition. You get great books for a great price, CBD gets the sale and we get an excellent referral fee from CBD.

This week’s bargain books (Click to learn more/purchase)
Three Excellent Books on Science and Technology:

635876: Science and Wisdom Science and Wisdom

By Jurgen Moltmann / Augsburg Fortress

$1.99  (Save 91%!!! )

Can the divide be bridged? Do either scientific or theological inquiry have a monopoly on the truth? Weighing both the pluses and minuses of contemporary science, Moltmann examines the uneasy relationship between faith and modern cosmology. He ponders the creation as an open system, the self-emptying of God in the universe’s history, problems of eternity, and more. 219 pages, softcover from Fortress.

30708: The Making and Unmaking of Technological Society The Making and Unmaking of Technological Society

By Murray Jardine / Baker

$0.99 (Save 96%!!!)

Has Christianity failed to engage the culture of technology and use scientific advancements responsibly? Jardine offers an incisive critique of the damaging elements in Western societies and argues that it’s possible to adandon the destructive aspects of technology while still embracing its benefits. Thought-provoking! 304 pages, softcover from Brazos.

431708: Science"s Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism Science’s Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism

By Cornelius G. Hunter / Brazos Press

$2.99 (Save 80%!!!)

Paradigm shifts happen rarely within specific sciencies, and when they do, they often shake that field to its core. Cornelius Hunter attempts to do just that, showing how modern science is influenced by theological and metaphysical thinking, rather than empirical data. Naturalism then, is shown not as a result of scientific inquiry, but rather is merely an untried presupposition. In its stead, Hunter proposes a new idea–moderate empiricism–which could potentially satisfy the demands of both intelligent design and mainstream modern science. 170 indexed pages, softcover.

 

“Essential Queries About Our Humanness”

A Review of
You Are Not a Gadget.
by Jaron Lanier.

Reviewed by Mark Eckel.


You Are Not a Gadget.
Jaron Lanier.

Hardback: Borzoi Books, 2010.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

“He has too many chocolate chips in his cookie dough.”  This was my son Tyler’s response to my query of what he thought of You Are Not a Gadget. I could not agree more.  Jaron Lanier is a brilliant thinker.  Handling a number of ideas, this co-father of the internet weaves in and out of various disciplines. He expects his reader to believe he is an expert in evolutionary biology, economics, theology, and philosophy; he fancies himself an ethicist, historian, businessman, Marxist (the ‘pure’ kind), and what he is: a techno-engineer.  But herein lays the problem.  Lanier’s dough cannot hold all those chips.

Let me say again Lanier is brilliant.  There is much to commend the essence of We Are Not Gadgets: people are special.  Science should be much more like poetry and storytelling (160, 168).  Lanier’s questions are incisive.  He penetrates past technological usage to ask essential queries about our humanness.  Lanier rightly identifies the most important philosophical signposts.  Defining humanness as “a quest, a mystery, a leap of faith” (5) punctuates his concern for people becoming what they use.  He expertly explains how technology shapes us.  Freedom is a chimera when computers control our lives.  Pondering mystery and taking responsibility for consequences is a human need (75).  “The file is a set of philosophical ideas made into eternal flesh” (13) inhibiting personal expression.  People are replaced by processes (16) promoting an anti-human way of thought (22).  The author asks the right questions.

Continue Reading…

 

NY TIMES Obituary for
Ralph McInerny
1929-2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/arts/16mcinerny.html

Ralph McInerny, a scholar of Roman Catholicism who taught at the University of Notre Dame for more than half a century and a prolific novelist whose books included the Father Dowling mystery series, died Jan. 29 in Mishawaka, Ind., near South Bend. He was 80.

The cause was complications of esophageal cancer, said his son Daniel.

Mr. McInerny, who taught philosophy and medieval studies at Notre Dame, was an expert on Thomas Aquinas, the 13th-century Catholic theologian and philosopher; much of his published scholarship included biographical and exegetical texts on Aquinas, and he edited a volume of Aquinas translations for Penguin Classics. He also wrote on the sixth-century philosopher Boethius, the 12th-century Spanish Arabic scholar Averroes and later thinkers and theologians, including Cardinal Newman, Kierkegaard, Pascal and Descartes.

He was far better known, however, as a novelist, and especially as the creator of Roger Dowling, a former canon lawyer whose career was derailed by drink and who has become, in his rehabilitation, a parish priest in a Midwestern town called Fox River, where he runs across an inordinate number of murders and shows an unusual gift for solving them.


Read the full obituary:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/arts/16mcinerny.html


Powells Books Reviews
Alain Badiou’s Pocket Pantheon: Figures of Postwar Philosophy
.

http://www.powells.com/review/2010_02_15.html

Alain Badiou, often billed as France’s leading radical thinker, here collects a group of tributes he has written to philosophers who are no longer with us. Most of these names — all French-speaking, all but one male — will be familiar to American readers: Lacan, Sarte, Foucault, Derrida. But others will be less familiar: Georges Canguilhem, Francoise Proust. In the “Overture,” Badiou refers to the subjects of these eulogies as “friends, enemies and partners,” categories which are not impermeable. Even those he thought of as friends or teachers are subject to criticism from his Maoist, revisionist-Marxist position.

Badiou tells us that these pieces are his way of calling these thinkers as “witnesses for the prosecution” in his dispute with those who would prostitute philosophy — that is, those who propose the maxim, “Cling to your illusions, prepare to surrender.” Badiou and his absent allies for their part insist that we “cast away illusions, prepare for struggle.” Badiou’s readings of this pantheon are illuminated by this particular slant of light. The first essay, a very short piece on Jacques Lacan, is a fairly standard eulogy which becomes an attack on Lacan’s critics: “All those psychoanalytic dwarves, all those gossip columnists amplifying the mean cry of ‘He was standing in my way, and now he’s dead at last. Now pay some attention to ME!” This confrontational tone, modulated to suit but never totally absent, permeates all the pieces here. At one point he asks his audience to allow him to be “absolutely anecdotal and completely superficial,” but there is no noticeable drop in intensity anywhere.


Read the full review:
http://www.powells.com/review/2010_02_15.html

Pocket Pantheon: Figures of Postwar Philosophy.
Alain Badiou

Paperback: Verso, 2009.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]


Bob Cornwall reviews
REBOOT: Refreshing Your Faith in a High-Tech World
By Peggy Kendall

http://pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com/2010/02/reboot-review.html

We live in a world that is increasingly impacted by technology.  The speed at which life is lived seemingly increases exponentially every day.  As Peggy Kendall, author of Reboot puts it: “As we become hyperconnected, overstimulated, multitasked, hyperinformed, hectically scheduled, and manically entertained, we wonder why feel so tired at night” (p. 3).  I do believe most of us can identify with that statement.  Even as life in general becomes more complex and fast paced, those of us who have walked through life for a few decades wonder about the decreasing attention span of young people.  Many of us who preach for a living wonder whether we are an endangered species – ready to be replaced by multimedia shows.  And yet, even I, a middle-aged man, who didn’t purchase a computer until beginning a Ph.D. program in my late 20s (and that computer was rather primitive by today’s standards), find it difficult to live for even a few hours without checking email or Facebook.  Yes, we have become dependent on technology that only a few decades back was the stuff of dreams.  The innocence of Beaver Cleaver or Opie Taylor is a thing of the past – at least for most of us.

As people of faith, at that is the intended audience for this book, the question is – how do we live with this technology without it controlling our lives?  Peggy Kendall, a self-described middle-aged communication professor at a Christian college, writes in the hope that this book will help Christians look at “how our unexamined choices regarding technology may unintentionally be altering our fundamental operating system” (p. 7).  The areas that may be affected include our values, our relationships, and the way we view “our Creator.”  The author writes as one who embraces technology, including the ways in which it makes life more productive and efficient, but she recognizes that there is a dark side present that needs to be addressed.


Read the full review:
http://pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com/2010/02/reboot-review.html

REBOOT: Refreshing Your Faith in a High-Tech World.
Peggy Kendall
.
Paperback: Judson Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

 

In our continuing effort to fund the publication and free distribution of The Englewood Review, we are going to be collaborating more intentionally with Christian Book Distributors.  Primarily, we will be offering you the opportunity to buy bargain books from CBD that we think of are interest.  Buying books this way is a win / win / win proposition.  You get great books for a great price,  CBD gets the sale and we get an excellent referral fee from CBD.  These books make great gifts!

This week’s bargain books (Click to learn more/purchase):


30708: The Making and Unmaking of Technological Society The Making and Unmaking of Technological Society

By Murray Jardine / Baker

$1.99 ! – Save 93%!!!
Has Christianity failed to engage the culture of technology and use scientific advancements responsibly? Jardine offers an incisive critique of the damaging elements in Western societies and argues that it’s possible to adandon the destructive aspects of technology while still embracing its benefits. Thought-provoking! 304 pages, softcover from Brazos.

6730X: The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church

By Gregory A. Boyd / Zondervan

$1.99 ! – Save 90%!!!
Should church and state really be separated? Does the church belong in the political arena? Arguing from Scripture and history, The Myth of a Christian Nation makes a compelling case that whenever the church gets too close to any political or national ideology, it is disastrous for the church and harmful to society.

031613: The Story of the Christ The Story of the Christ

By Scot McKnight / Baker

$1.99 ! – Save 85%!!!
For two thousand years the figure of Jesus has been the most powerful and pervasive influence on Western culture, not only in religion and ethics but also in politics, literature, music, and the visual arts. This book features insights from Scot McKnight, author of the bestselling book The Jesus Creed.

 

“The Church:
God’s Medium AND God’s Message”

A Review of
Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith.
by Shane Hipps.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Flickering Pixels:
How Technology Shapes Your Faith
.
Shane Hipps.

Hardback: Zondervan, 2009.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

“Technique has taken over the whole of civilization.  Death, procreation, birth, all submit to technical efficiency and systematization.” – Jacques Ellul

Shane Hipp - FLICKERING PIXELS

From the moment we are born until the moment we die, our lives are formed by technology.  Our education, in the home, at school, at work or in the church, molds us into the technological system so that we remain blind to the power it holds over our lives.  In recent decades, there have been a number of Christian thinkers – e.g., Jacques Ellul, Ivan Illich and Wendell Berry – who have warned us with the eloquence of the prophets about this technological tyranny.  And yet their critiques have gone largely unheard among most church congregations in North America.  While the writings of these critics could be dismissed by some as dense, irrelevant or obscure, there is a new technological critic, Shane Hipp, whose evangelical background and simple, lucid writing style will render him a voice that cannot be so easily dismissed.  Hipp’s new book Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith, raises many of the same issues as those probed by critics of technology – both those in the church and those outside it, such as Neil Postman and Marshall McLuhan – but does so in a clear, engaging style that will resonate with many members of our churches.

In the book’s introduction, Hipps describes the task that he will be undertaking:

This book explores the hidden power of media and technology as a way to understand who we are, who we think God is, and how God’s unchanging message has changed, is changing and will change.  It’s about the way God communicates with us and the way we communicate God to the world.  Mostly, though, it’s about training our eyes to see things we usually overlook (13-14).

Continue Reading…

 

I’ve been starting to dig into Shane Hipps’ most recent book Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith.  Here’s a brief interview that Rob Bell did with Shane, which gets to the heart of the issues raised in the book.

293217: Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith
By Shane Hipps
$12.99

 

[ The internet was out all day here in our part of Indianapolis, so I’m posting this a day late… ]

Great NPR interview with Greg Grandin, author of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten City.