- Copertina rigida: 221 pagine
- Editore: Doubleday; First Edition First Printing edizione (31 ottobre 1999)
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 0385489757
- ISBN-13: 978-0385489751
- Peso di spedizione: 476 g
- Posizione nella classifica Bestseller di Amazon: n. 489.983 in Libri in altre lingue (Visualizza i Top 100 nella categoria Libri in altre lingue)
High Tech Heretic (Inglese) Copertina rigida – 31 ott 1999
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Contrarian Clifford Stoll speaks out:
On computer literacy:
"I don't think our society suffers from a fear of technology. If anything, our problems are rooted in a love affair with gizmos."
"Sure, kids love computers. I met an eighth grader who told me he'd spent his summer vacation logged onto the Internet for seven hours a day. Every day of the summer. A thirteen-year-old girl looked at me with a fresh face and asked, 'How can I meet boys if I'm not on-line?'"
On computers in the classroom:
"Whenever I point out the dubious value of computers in schools, I hear, 'Look, computers are everywhere, so we have to bring them into the classroom.' Well, automobiles are everywhere, too. They play a damned important part in our society, and it's hard to get a job if you can't drive. In fact, cars count for more of our economy than do computers. But we don't teach automotive literacy."
"So how long does it take to learn word processing? A day? Maybe three? Of course, using a computer requires learning to type. Oops, I mean acquiring keyboarding proficiency. Still, this is hardly rocket science."
On computers, the Internet and the information age:
"For years, we've been bludgeoned with the cliché 'information is power.' But information isn't power. After all, who's got the most information in your neighborhood? Librarians. And they're famous for having no power at all. And who has the most power in your community? Politicians. And they're notorious for being ill-informed."
On computers and aesthetics:
"Why are computers so ugly? How come I can buy a red shirt, an orange umbrella, a yellow bowling ball, a green radio, and a blue car, but computers are all beige boxes? It's as if Henry Ford ran the computer business: you can have any color you wish, as long as it's off-white putty."
Clifford Stoll, an MSNBC commentator, lecturer, and a Berkeley astronomer, is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Cuckoo's Egg and Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway. He lives with his family in the San Francisco Bay area.Visualizza tutta la Descrizione prodotto
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There is much of value in this book but for me the most important part was Stoll's thoughts on the differences between hypertext and "real" text and just how detrimental an effect those differences can have on the reading habits and abilities of young people. I also enjoyed Stoll's exposé of the eagerness, at many levels of government throughout the United States, to install technology at any cost. This demonstrates a lack of understanding among officials who should know better. Often, it seems, the funding of technology in schools becomes a political gambit.
Stoll points out that there is little need to emphasise the learning of technology within the curriculum, especially at the expense of other subjects, because young people pick it up so easily anyway. I think it wouldn't be too strong to say that he views a large part of the US policy on computers in schools as crazy. He puts a lot of strong arguments to support this view.
This book is easy to read and it will certainly give you a lot to think about. It is worth reading (if you aren't too busy surfing the web).
I found the part on education a bit repetitous and thought that Stoll could have shortened it after the first couple of chapters he tried to make his point (or condense into less chapters). The part on computer technology and society is more general and covers several loose topics (PowerPoint and the grey mass of presentations with non-essential gadgetery!)
His insight is refreshing and somewhat daring in a time you seemingly should not speak 'against' computer technology: It sometimes feels you are either on or off in the current trends regarding the Web and computers in general. Stoll simply asks questions on the blind use of computer technology and makes us think about it (I happen to agree with him a lot), but he isn't against it: he also thinks there are a lot of good uses but computer technology should not become the goal, only a means to get where we want to go.
Unfortunately, I found commentaries like "Uh, right." below the level of competence of Stoll as a writer. He explains and tells other stuff so well, so he should not have to fall back on short (cheap) comments like that.
I give 3 points for the book (it is not great nor badly written; well above average) and 1 point for the refreshing and daring view on computer technology.
More than his writing style, I enjoyed his perspicacious understanding of how computers and everything related to high tech has radically changed our society and individual lives. For some odd reason, we never challenge new gadgetry, we just assimilate it. But for everything we gain, we lose something.
I particularly enjoyed the first half of his book, in which he challenges using computers in our public schools. It is a high cost, low benefit formula. (Read Jane Healy's books, Failure To Connect and Endangered Minds, if you want to follow-up on this topic.)
In the second half of his book, he rattles technology in general, and although his tone sounds at times like the whiny Andy Rooney, his message needs to be heard, particularly his chapter on Library management.
If the title appeals to you, you will like the book; he's a radical from the inside. This book should be a companion to Bill McKibbon's The Age of Misinformation and Jerry Mander's In The Absence Of The Sacred.
This is a quick, scatalogical read, friends, and worth it.
Some of Stoll's primary rants are as follows. "Learning to use a computer...is essentially a mechanical task, one that doesn't...encourage creativity" (p. 4). The "emphasis on professional reports sends students the message that appearance and fonts mean more than content" (p. 7). (How many times have teachers required clip art in projects?) He says, "It's easy to mistake familiarity with computers for intelligence, but computer literate certainly doesn't equal smart. And computer illiterate sure doesn't mean stupid" (p. 9). He argues that "equating learning with fun says that if you don't enjoy yourself, you're not learning" (p. 12). Stoll points out that a computer can only give one answer to "What is seven?" but a qualified teacher could give hundreds of responses to that inquiry (p. 21). Similarly, creative people tend to get the most frustrated with computers because a program usually only has one right answer (p. 151). Online chemistry experiments, biology dissections and physics simulations are nice, but they don't provide the hands-on, discovery factor that physical experiments do (p. 29). He says technology "train[s] the youngest children to explore through a computer rather than with their hands, feet and imagination" (p. 68). Supporters promote student laptops as being portable, but Stoll points out that unlike a book, children can't accidentally leave laptops on a park bench, or use them on the bus; also, books don't need batteries or cables (p. 38). He argues that since computers depreciate so fast, it makes much better financial sense to use a ten-year-old book than a ten-year-old laptop. Some people say that books are antiquated, but Stoll notes that many websites are outdated or have non-working links (p. 39).
Proponents argue that computers, unlike televisions, are interactive. Stoll argues that most PC programs ask the user to "sit, watch and be entertained." He also contends that problem-solving on a computer implies the process is as simple as clicking a mouse and choosing the right answer (p. 45). He maintains that computers discourage reading because screen real estate is monopolized by pictures, and users do not want to read lengthy blocks of text because it hurts their eyes (p. 57). Stoll points out that with distance learning, students may learn the required knowledge, but they won't even recognize the faces of those with whom they have "collaborated" (p. 93). He also blames Americans' shrinking view of the world on technology; he says that we view people of other cultures online and on TV instead of getting out there and interacting with them (p. 119). He notes that people rarely get fired for a lack of computing skills but get dismissed often for "being unable to get along with others," which the isolationist nature of computing exacerbates (p. 122). Another rant was about the overuse of PowerPoint. Imagine if Abraham Lincoln had delivered the Gettysburg Address, with an "animation of Washington crossing the Delaware...and the phrases `A new nation,' `Conceived in liberty,' and `All men are created equal'" on his bullet chart (p. 182). He argues the internet is full of (unverified) data but short on useful, pedigreed information (p. 186).
"High Tech Heretic," although intentionally one-sided, was very entertaining and a fast, fun read. Stoll reminds us that even an obsessed computer-lover can still critically examine the promises of any technology.