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High-Tech Heretic: Reflections of a Computer Contrarian

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  154 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
The cry for and against computers in the classroom is a topic of concern to parents, educators, and communities everywhere. Now, from a Silicon Valley hero and bestselling technology writer comes a pointed critique of the hype surrounding computers and their real benefits, especially in education. In High-Tech Heretic, Clifford Stoll questions the relentless drumbeat for " ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 12th 2000 by Anchor Books (first published 1999)
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Chelsea
Jun 14, 2009 Chelsea rated it it was ok
I just finished reading High Tech Heretic by Clifford Stoll. Stoll, an
apparently famous technology writer who's written two novels that I've never heard of before, is knowledgeable about the computer industry. In his book he attempts to argue against the increasing use of computers in the classroom. I'll be the first to admit that he has several very strong points that are not to be ignored. He discusses the lack of rigor and human interaction in the classroom. He's correct in his analysis that
...more
David
Jan 16, 2008 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, nonfiction
The details in Stoll's book are already becoming obsolete, but that doesn't make his points any less true. And that is really the point of the book: computers are a tool, not a panacea, and we do ourselves a disservice to think otherwise. Learning well is still hard work. It's not enough to know how to use a calculator without understanding numbers well enough to check the answers the calculator gives. Pre-school students need play, not keyboard practice. Books are more important to libraries th ...more
Mark Valentine
Jan 17, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maybe this is not the right forum to discuss a book that debunks the internet, but I presume that you have enough sense to read between the lines here as with Stoll's book.

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 t
...more
Chris Aylott
Jul 23, 2012 Chris Aylott rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The most entertaining thing about this book is how quaint it sounds. CD-ROMs! Dial-up modems! Network cables! Everybody's playing Myst! (Which was kind of out of date even when the book was published in 1999.) It's fun to think back 13 years and realize just how much technology has changed.

Other than that, this isn't much more than a collection of repetitive and ill-founded rants. Stoll's basic point is correct: computers shouldn't be the focal point of education or any other sphere of life. But
...more
Darin
Aug 03, 2008 Darin rated it it was ok
Stoll's book is a mixed bag; unfortunately, most of it is bad. While many of his points about the affect of computers in the classroom are valid and confirmed by my time in education, the good points are mired in a nearly unreadable stream-of-consciousness writing style that reeks more of "bitter old coot" rather than "scientist and educator". Without the harsh tone, there's some good stuff in here. Most of that stuff, however, is pretty obvious and not worth wading through this book to find.
Matthew Klippenstein
Points which were probably valid for the time period. Unfortunately, the apparent success of the iPad at improving learning, and the spectacular success of the Khan Academy, will make a lot of people conclude he was really, really wrong. (Whereas, as per above, he was probably correct at the time.)
Criz
Apr 11, 2008 Criz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with kids and computers
This is a well thought out collection of points for anybody thinking that kids and computers are a good fit. He systematically disassembles each argument for putting computers in the classroom and provides a number of solutions to prevent the US from becoming a tech/biz consultant career machine.

The instructions for creating an aquarium out of an old mac is a fun bonus.
Rob O'Daniel
Dec 17, 2012 Rob O'Daniel rated it really liked it
Some of the examples are dated, which I'm certain will be an immediate put-off for superficial readers, but this is an insightful look into the dangers of the "technology is good, so let's shovel it at kids" mindset that's overtaking public schools.
Christopher DeMarcus
Mar 16, 2014 Christopher DeMarcus rated it really liked it
A light and ranty version of many arguments found in Postman's Technopoly. While older readers will be more likely to pick it up, younger readers would benefit the most. The rants about sitting through boring Powerpoint presentations and the validity of old fashioned books were some of the best.
Ed Walker
Apr 26, 2008 Ed Walker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read if you want something to offset the starry-eyed hype that computers are the key to happiness and success.
dgw
May 07, 2010 dgw rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: technology
I've published my thoughts and reflections elsewhere.
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