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Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  3,277 ratings  ·  304 reviews
In this witty, often terrifying work of cultural criticism, the author of Amusing Ourselves to Death chronicles our transformation into a Technopoly: a society that no longer merely uses technology as a support system but instead is shaped by it--with radical consequences for the meanings of politics, art, education, intelligence, and truth.
Paperback, 222 pages
Published March 31st 1993 by Vintage (first published 1992)
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Trevor
Jul 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
A large part of this is just stating what I would take to be pretty much the obvious. No ‘new technology’ is ever fully positive or fully negative. I can’t remember where I heard recently that an environment that has rabbits added to it is not, say, the Australian bush with rabbits, but actually a new environment. Technology does much the same thing with the human environment. The 1950s were not really just the 1940s with television added and the 2000s weren’t just the 1980s with the internet – ...more
Ben
Apr 22, 2012 added it
Though Postman wrote this book in 1992, his ideas remain as relevant as ever in 2012. If he thought Technopoly was running rampant in '92, I can't imagine (well, I can) his disgust at technology's further rise to eminence in the past twenty years. If you're one who recognizes that facebook, iPhones, and Twitter actually have downsides, then you'll be intrigued by Postman's passionate arguments, ones that extend beyond electronic technology because, after all, the computer was in its infancy the ...more
Kressel Housman
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Neil Postman makes an argument in this book that will resonate with most religious people and will probably be rejected by everybody else. It’s an argument against Technopoly and its brother Scientism: the view that science and technology can answer all the problems in our lives. Clearly, science and technology have solved some major problems the human race has faced, so it’s no wonder that it knocked religion of its throne in the Industrial Age. But just as religious leaders can be corrupt, so ...more
Jordan Munn
Jan 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
There are some good ideas in this book, but only incidentally so- Postman himself delivers almost nothing of merit. Postman tends to come across as a curmudgeon in his writing, but in Amusing Ourselves to Death, he presented a reasonable, fairly robust argument that felt supported by evidence. Even when he was opining, his position was plausible. In Technopoly, he fails to develop a convincing hierarchy of technological development.

Postman never admits as much, but across his books he has a giga
...more
Nathanael
Oct 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Technopoly tells us that technology has an inherent viewpoint, a 'take' on reality. That's obvious. More unsettling is that Postman argues we adopt the viewpoint of the technology we use. For example, by naively citing social science we adopt Scientism--a scarily amoral view of reality. Postman's Technopoly is a negative description of modern American society--wholly taken into technological development, wholly sapped of social mores and the traditions that uphold them. Religion and liberal educ ...more
Melinda
Nov 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
There is much here to recommend to both those who are disquieted by technology and to those who wonder if we aren't losing our moral compass in our embrace of all things that distract and momentarily engage our flitting minds (minds, Postman would argue, increasingly shaped by the Technopoly we live in). As an educator, the Biggest Idea I took away from this book was the insight into the cataclysm now ravaging the public school system. Students come to us as the babes of technology culture and w ...more
Frieda Vizel
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So much brain food. YUM.

Postman has the rare ability to peel away all the layers of cultural biases that form our worldviews and to see each problem he addresses (and there are several large themes in this book - ie technology, statistics, education, popular culture, politics) with clear eyes, intelligence and so much humor. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to live in the 70s to 90s as the culture's Jeremiah without becoming angry or reclusive. Yet there is no bitterness. Rather, a c
...more
Greg Linster
The late Neil Postman's book, Technopoly, is a sobering assessment of a technologically obsessed American culture.  The fact that the book was presciently published in 1992, long before the Internet became ubiquitous, is alarming.  Don't be fooled though, Postman isn't a pure Luddite and this isn't a book that is anti-technology.  Perhaps the best way of putting it is that Postman harbors a sense of digital ambivalence.  Like Postman, I don't necessarily condemn the technologies themselves per s ...more
Robert Nasuti
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book was absolutely horrible. Written by an old man who resents the fact that the things he esteemed in his life are no longer as respected as they once were. This book can be summed up with 2 statements:

1. I hate that Science is making it difficult to hold onto my faith, and has enabled the ridicule of fundamentalism.

2. I hate that Social Science is displacing being well read when discussing opinions of public affair. E.G. - The psychologist's theory on human behavior is given more respect
...more
Beth Barnett
May 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Another book about the danger of trusting too fully in technology. Postman's argument encourages us to keep those low-tech ideas and solutions that still work (better) and view technology with reason, looking for that which truly benefits us as humans, rather than embracing technology that degrades us. (For similar writing, read Wendell Berry also.)
Trevor Atwood
“The Technopoly story, emphasizes progress without limits, rights without responsibility, and technology without cost. It is without a moral center. It puts in its place efficiency, interest, and economic advance. It promises heaven on earth through the conveniences of technological progress. It casts aside all traditional narratives and symbols that suggest stability and orderliness, and tells, instead, of a life of skills, technical expertise, and the ecstasy of consumption.”

That was written i
...more
Paul Ataua
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Despite being published in 1993 and therefore dealing with technology well before the internet revolution, many of the ideas are very relevant in our world today. Some really thought provoking points, like asking how important the invention of the printing press was to the coming of the Lutheran reformation. The central hypothesis that there are good and bad effects to every new technological advance needs to be put forward, but the book tends to repeat that point so many times and never really ...more
Alex Stroshine
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, Neil Postman asserts that we in the West have essentially “deified” technology, a state Postman dubs “Technopoly.” The ascension of technology has radically altered how human beings understand themselves and interact with each other. For instance, Technopoly has created new specialists and experts who are able to wield and control technology and thus gain power, but to the detriment of other specialists who have been rendered obsolete by tec ...more
Brittany Horton
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Anyone who opens my copy of Technopoly will see how much I enjoyed reading it. It is now filled with writing, underlining, stars, post-it notes and highlighter marks. This is my second book by Postman and I am definitely a huge fan of his theories.

First of all, this is by no means anti-technology book. Postman gives a (mostly) unbiased opinion on the state of the technology culture today (the Technopoly) and how we as a society can begin to integrate technology into our classrooms without it fi
...more
Lucsly
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Despite being written in 1992, this book offers a view of the influence of technology on our lives that is as relevant as ever, if not more so in this age of government espionage on all our communications, of corporations greedily soaking up the personal information we happily share on social networking sites, of tech companies believing that their latest smart phone will improve our lives.

To be sure, the author (the cultural critic Neil Postman) is not a Luddite: he does not deny the usefulness
...more
Daniel Nelms
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After reading this book, your eyes will be opened as to how much our lives are governed, defined and shaped by technology. It almost seems like, to some degree, we are all “products” of technology in how we understand and process basic information in our day to day lives. It is indeed a tyranny of technology, a technopoly. It is almost impossible to think of life without things like (all of which are 500 or less years old):

- The watch/clock that now governs every second of our days (widespread f
...more
Murtaza
Apr 04, 2016 rated it liked it
"Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman is one of my favorite books, and Technopoly offers some of the same kind of effective cultural criticism that made that one such a classic. To be honest many of the ideas he espoused here felt somewhat familiar to me. In fairness, this book was written decades ago and so his ideas have had a long time to filter out. I wonder what he would make of the Technopoly given that this book was written even before the Internet was invented. He correctly notes ...more
Dan
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: luddites, alll manner of loud mouthed anti-technology malcontents
This book is about how technology affects our society and culture. Specifically, this book is about how Technology negatively affects our society and culture. Postman is very one sided and hardly even pays lip service to any contradictory interpretations than his own.

I read this book very quickly, in one sitting, finishing the book in an afternoon. I don't remember his whole argument. However, when I finished I remember being dissatisfied with Postman's arguments, thinking he was an idiot, think
...more
Mehrsa
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book immediately after I finished Postman's other book, amusing ourselves to death and while I think there is some overlap, I think both books are so well-written and so precise in their identification of the challenges of technology. I kept thinking "he doesn't even know about Google and Facebook yet!" Yet he is prophetic about the problems in science, data, overly technical medicine, etc. It's only gotten worse since the book was written. Postman is either a crank or a prophet ...more
Rob
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite Postman book so far. It was thought provoking to the point that it makes me question the use of the 5 star system on this site. I liked the scope of this book more than that of Amusing Ourselves To Death. There was more emphasis on our cultural ideologies and less on imagined historical ideals.
Daniel Martinez
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was incredibly insightful into the American concession of all things to technology and its advances. In 2018, the extension of Postman’s 1993 foreboding analysis of our culture has progressed tremendously. He also ends practically with a hopeful future for our society and its relationship with technology.
Azzam To'meh
May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A great book which analyzes both philosphically and quantifiably the effect of the media, and technology in general, on our lifestyles. It examines the technologies which we do not even notice, and look at how those tools in themselves affect the information ecology within which we live. A
Douglas Wilson
Feb 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: culture-studies
Superb.
David Sasaki
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
One of the most influential books about technology, narrative, and education that I have read. Very long sorta-review here: http://davidsasaki.name/2015/12/the-e... ...more
Stephen Case
Dec 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Being a social critic must be a lonely job. No one wants to hear what he says, I imagine, besides those already disillusioned with the system. For those though who have a vague sense that something somewhere has gone wrong but lack the words to articular exactly what, the social critic serves an essential function. He helps diagnose the problem. Neil Postman did this in his work Amusing Ourselves to Death, which I read years ago, when he talked about the way that television has shaped public dia ...more
Matthew
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a timely read for me. Many of Postman's warnings to society served as chilling wakeup calls to me.

He warns against viewing efficiency as the highest good of life. I have to admit that I have accepted that lie into many areas of my life where it has no right to be.

He warns against allowing the metaphor of technology absorb one's entire consciousness. Too often, I fall into that trap as well.

He warns against taking the social "sciences" at their word, because their subject does not len
...more
Annelie
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: required-reading
In a world where the use of the computer and the smartphone is taken for granted, Postman's Technopoly is a necessary meditation on the ways in which our society's contemporary worship of science and information has ravaged the symbols upon which it was once based. Postman calls for us to reexamine our history, our symbols, and what societies of the past relied on for transcendence; he urges us to question the imperatives of efficiency and precision that undermine the complex and necessary retel ...more
Robert
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in 1992, Technopoly remains very relevant 27 years later. In fact, I was quite surprised when, about halfway through the book, I confirmed how long ago it was written. It is dated more by what is not mentioned, e.g., the Internet, social media, virtual/augmented reality, etc., than what is. Technopoly is a stronger, and far more strident, argument not to forsake our humanity in our exploitation of technology than Kai-Fu Lee’s AI Superpowers.

I suspect I'm among a very small group of peopl
...more
Megan
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
Excellent and challenging book written in the nineties! I wonder what he would think about our culture now.
Marshall
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting book about being critical of technology. Just that sentence alone will evoke certain assumptions that the book itself is designed to address. To be critical of something is different than to criticize it. Criticizing is about finding and exposing flaws. Being critical means to analyze it objectively. This includes finding flaws. Since nothing is perfect, not finding flaws implies some hidden bias in favor of it. That bias is what this book focuses on.

If one were to critici
...more
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Neil Postman, an important American educator, media theorist and cultural critic was probably best known for his popular 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. For more than four decades he was associated with New York University, where he created and led the Media Ecology program.

He is the author of more than thirty significant books on education, media criticism, and cultural change including Te
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