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Against The Machine: Being Human in the Era of the by LEE SIEGEL

By LEE SIEGEL

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The rise of computers, Bell predicted in 1976, would make such methods of analysis widespread. Bell believed that an economic view of life was the core of a computer-centered culture. This is precisely the dynamic that drives Gates’s vision of the Internet. When Microsoft’s founder speaks of a “frictionTHE FUTURE, DANIEL BELL B A I T A N D S W I T C H / 31 less” global economy, he isn’t just conjuring up a world in which borders, tariffs, and protectionist restrictions no longer apply to streams of information borne instantaneously through virtual space.

Back then, people enjoyed being enchanted by art’s illusions, but they didn’t like being deceived by the misrepresentation of facts. But once upon a time, the public had not become accustomed to seeing and hearing private life enacted as though it were a fabricated performance. Not long ago, in the burgeoning age of confessionalism, private life was being made public all over the place, but it was still considered authentic private experience. ” Lasch believed that all this evasive self-obsession was the result of a narcissistic culture that had two simultaneous effects.

When he emerges from his sequestered lair, red-faced and agitated, is it because he has been arguing for moderation with “KillBush46” on the political blog Daily Kos, has failed in his bid to purchase genuine militaryissue infrared night goggles on eBay, or has been masturbating while instant-messaging “Prehistorica12”? Then again, maybe your husband died four years ago from a rare disease, and thanks to information you discovered on the Web, you were able to find a drug that kept him alive for twice as long as he would have lived without it.

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