I enjoyed Standage’s TED talk on the subject of this book. If you don’t have time to read the book, the video is a decent miniature of the thesis. ThI enjoyed Standage’s TED talk on the subject of this book. If you don’t have time to read the book, the video is a decent miniature of the thesis. The video left me wanting more, however, so I borrowed this one from the library, and I’m glad I did. It is an extremely condensed history of Western civilization on matters of literacy, print, and media. Standage argues that social media, rather than being a new idea, is in fact a very old one and gives voluminous examples to prove his point.
My critique would beg for more connections between the historical material and his thesis. The chapters are formatted in this way: brief introduction into why this historical period is relevant to the thesis, long detailed apparently very scholarly set-up of the historical period and its happenings, then ending with one or two short paragraphs relating it back to the thesis. It seemed like a freshman’s first paper.
In the middle of most chapters, I found myself wondering why these details mattered in the larger schema, and at the end of each chapters, with such a small amount of space dedicated to building those connections, I felt cheated out of the mature conversation that could – and probably should – have grown out of the material. I cannot decide whether he has not formulated the connections, whether they are fewer than he hoped, or whether he is leaving the reader to their own devices in how social media is relevant to today’s work.
Regardless, I enjoyed the journey that Standage takes the reader on, especially the larger context of history he has given me. His thesis is timely and should be heard as it presents the optimistic view that social media is not the death of society nor a deviation from the way things "ought" to be, but rather the return to a way of communicating we humans have used for centuries. History tells us that, in the use and expansion of social communication, lies man's progress.
I would recommend this to history buffs and media enthusiasts. While his topic is excellent, I think he would lose common readers in the middle. ...more
This book. It may be the most important book I've ever read. The historical lessons are far reaching. But I've also never taken so long to finish anyThis book. It may be the most important book I've ever read. The historical lessons are far reaching. But I've also never taken so long to finish any book ever. The details I was desperately enamoured with at the beginning became boring sawdust to weed through in search of an end. Any end. Please let it end.
I'm looking forward to reading something nice and fluffy now.
I doubt that I would ever recommend this to a friend.
For its contribution to human knowledge, this book deserves 5 stars. For its terrifying inhumane descent into a textbook, it receives only 3....more
Read like a novel to me and finished in as fast a time. Egypt has been a fascination of mine since childhood days sequestered in my little hometown liRead like a novel to me and finished in as fast a time. Egypt has been a fascination of mine since childhood days sequestered in my little hometown library. It was nearly impossible for me to dislike this book.
Many reviewers comment on excessive details as the downside of this book, where I count it as its shining jewel. Schiff taught me so much: Cleopatra's ancestry was Greek not Egyptian, the 1500 years that separated her from Nefertiti compared to only 400 years from Hypatia... the list is long. Her attention to detail proves her an unbiased author as she repeatedly cites discordant voices on the events, discusses the likelihood of either side being correct, and then manages to move forward with an enthralling story without breaking its rhythm. Well done indeed....more