Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut Revised and Updated Edition

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9780062515513: Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut Revised and Updated Edition

Media scholar ( and Internet Enthusiast ) David Shenk examines the troubling effects of information proliferation on our bodies, our brains, our relationships, and our culture, then offers strikingly down-to-earth insights for coping with the deluge.

With a skillful mixture of personal essay, firsthand reportage, and sharp analysis, Shenk illustrates the central paradox of our time: as our world gets more complex, our responses to it become increasingly simplistic. He draws convincing links between data smog and stress distraction, indecision, cultural fragmentation, social vulgarity, and more.

But there's hope for a saner, more meaningful future, as Shenk offers a wealth of novel prescriptions—both personal and societal—for dispelling data smog.

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Review:

It is said that information wants to be free, but most days on the net, don't you feel that all it wants to do is be in your face every last minute? Did you ever feel yourself go "tilt" when a search engine retrieves 30,000 possible hits to your query? Or downloads 50 pieces of new e-mail? Perhaps some relief will come when you know the Laws of Data Smog that frame this book, among them: Silicon circuits evolve much more quickly than human genes; Equifax is watching; Beware of stories that dissolve all complexity; Too many experts spoil the clarity. David Shenk is certainly going to stir controversy with his conclusions, especially that government should get involved in reducing the information glut.

From the Publisher:

Cyberpundit and media scholar David Shenk launches a trenchant and informed critique of the impact of data smog -- information overload -- on individual well-being and our society as a whole. Picking up where Silicon Snake Oil and The Gutenberg Elegies left off, Shenk skillfully explodes the rosy myths of the technological revolution, points the way toward a saner and more meaningful future, and offers the most convincing and thorough rebuttal yet of the overhyping of the Information Age.

More Praise for Data Smog:

"Over the past 150 years, humanity solved the problem of information scarcity. In solving it, we created the problem of information glut, incoherence and meaninglessness. David Shenk's brilliant book names the problem, describes it, explains it and -- God bless him -- offers us help in coping with it."

- NEIL POSTMAN, author, Technopoly and Amusing Ourselves to Death

"This could be the Silent Spring for the Digital Age. Data Smog shows the very real threats that we now face. We ignore them at our peril."

- SIMSON GARFINKEL, columnist, Hotwired

"Data Smog is quite wonderful...a smart warning by a savvy aficionado of cyber-culture to be wary of too much of a good thing."

- ORVILLE SCHELL, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism, University of California at Berkeley

"This book breaks new ground. Here you will find a public ethic for an era of too-much information, delivered in a succinct and heroically civil style that puts to shame an entire shelf of books on the coming media environment. Shenk is a citizen writing for other beleaguered citizens...Data Smog is really a book about democracy and what it will take to keep that troubled idea alive and breathing in years ahead."

- JAY ROSEN, Director, Project on Public Life and the Press, New York University

"This book is an oxygen mask. Take it along when you need to breathe. This careful, informed and passionate argument should take the stuffing right out of the cheerleaders of the (indiscriminate) Information Age."

- ANDREI CODRESCU, commentator, National Public Radio

"Data Smog offers a rare combination of extensive research, clear thinking, lucid writing and valuable advice. It's a must for anybody feeling overwhelmed but underserved by today's information sources."

- EDWARD TENNER, author, Why Things Bite Back

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