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Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  3,986 ratings  ·  405 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
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
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
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
Andrew
What Postman and I share is a deep-seated suspicion of technocratic governance. The difference is that my critique is essentially Marxist -- the idea of a "values-free," non-ideological panel of experts making decisions for us is both misguided and undemocratic, and liable to reproduce already-existing power structures. His critique is essentially romantic, that technology acts as a barrier to moral growth or self-actualization or some such thing. Regrettably, this angle is (mostly) bullshit.

It'
...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
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
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
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
Dan
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
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
Tariq
Mar 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
When considering the impact of technology on modern society, the narrative is often framed as being between those who promote and push forward with developing technology and those who oppose it. Neil Postman argues that this is incorrect, and that the real frame of conflict is between technology and everyone else.

This narrative may seem unnecessarily confrontational and dramatic, but Postman makes a compelling argument. He details his points as to how technology is seen as a close friend, giving
...more
Joshua
Jun 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. Very good observations on the dark side of technological infatuation. It holds up without being really dated almost 30 years later, which is an indication of how impressive Postman's insight is. The main point which has changed is the idea that at the time of writing, you needed to have statistical facts to get companies and governments to do something and he points out the ineffectiveness of other kinds of information; now, it is possible to use some narratives without statistical su ...more
Ghristian Cuerra
Jun 15, 2022 rated it it was amazing
don’t really like writing reviews since most of the people i know use them as currency but am deeply moved by this work and would implore people to read it.

cultural analysis, some strange living data with a contentious existence. Pretty quick and easy read with very little fat in it as a nonfictionwork

If you happened to be someone with some certain ‘ framework’ (sordid term+concept) that dismisses the claims Postman makes about the ethical ramifications of technological advancement this book
...more
Kris
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very direct and short. I don't agree with everything he says, but it's worth a read as he has some interesting ideas. It's about the history of technology and its influence on our Western culture: how we think about tools and how we train our brains to work. He talks about the difference between learning information and facts (knowledge) vs. understanding the history and ideas behind that information (wisdom). Most of all, he urges us to start critically analyzing our interaction with technology ...more
Lee Lloyd
This book left me with very mixed feelings. Had I read just the conclusion, as an essay, I most likely would have agreed wholeheartedly with it. Unfortunately, the rest of the book was perhaps the most pure neo-Luddite manifesto I've ever read in my life. The strange nostalgia the author clearly feels for a pre-Enlightenment era he has clearly romanticised to the point of almost fetishisation, and the arguments based on that world view, actually made me less inclined to agree with his conclusion ...more
Dan
Nov 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
The topic of technology is a difficult one - since we are completely immersed in it these days. In general, we like to think of it as something objective, efficient, beneficial, and so on; and for the most part of it we are in the right. But what if technology is also some power structure that just pretends to be neutral or some kind of genie out of the bottle with its own agenda that systematically takes down all our values. In this book, Postman seems to argue for the latter and proposes some ...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.) ...more
Daniëlle Van den Brink
“Every technology is both a burden and a blessing; not either-or, but this-and-that.”

Written in the late nineties, Postman is yet again ahead of his time in making predictions about our future regarding technology. Technology has, in a very short time, gone from an add-on to a foundational piece of most first world and certainly all western societies. But what it actually do for us, besides make things easier and more efficient? Like with many more new things that snuck their way into our cultur
...more
Kent Winward
May 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Postman's work is dated, but his insights parlayed out against the changes of the past 20 years in communication and media technology are worth the blast to the past.

Some of the gems I was able to cull:

"The world we live in is very nearly incomprehensible to most of us. There is no fact, whether actual or imagined, that will surprise us for very long, since we have no comprehensive and consistent picture of the world that would make the fact appear as an unacceptable contradiction. We believe b
...more
Drtaxsacto
Apr 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is the second of two books that were recommended to me in the book I am reading by Morton Shapiro. Postman died in 2003 which makes his thoughts even more amazing. The premise of this book is to understand how changes in technology can affect the way we look at the world. So moving from an oral tradition to print changes the way we think about the world; moving to images makes other changes and transitioning to electronic technology makes additional adjustments. We change what we value in e ...more
Chris
Dec 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Neil Postman is a slow burn. He starts with a premise and drills layer by layer, expounding as needed for wit or depth. What feel like detours to connect back to the main arguments, and he's even got a handy list of suggestions toward the end. He lost me for a bit when he spoke of reminding ourselves what is great about the good ole U S of A (not because there aren't great things, but the great things don't seem so exclusively American to me, though the US framed them in a unique way and within ...more
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
Matthew Rogers
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book will be relevant forever.
Jon Wisnieski
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
One of the clearest, most compelling books I’ve read in a long time.
Stetson
Neil Postman is late 20th century America's lovable Luddite. One of the thoughtful and erudite variety, but still curmudgeonly around technology of any kind! Technopology is a sequel of sorts to Postman's influential Amusing Ourselves to Death, which argued that television had degraded public discourse into a form of entertainment. Technopoly expands the scope to this argument to all flavors of technology, asserting every innovation drives changes in human psychology and behavior. He then procee ...more
Jacob Steckbeck
Mar 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Information is power and must be filtered. Screw the bureaucrats. I want to live in the 1800’s.
Qwelian Tanner
Jun 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Some thoughts...


Postman believes that secular education, taught with a lack of some ideology automates the information generation process. I like his reading of Carl Rogers. Formative education should be about self awareness, self discovery, and understanding of history.

I am extremely, nah BIG EXTREMELY, dubious of the lack of power relations Postman reads into the creation of a new type of education(it based tho). Is technological development better when taught by yogi mystics or a rabbi? Has
...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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13 likes · 3 comments
“We must keep in mind the story of the statistician who drowned while trying to wade across a river with an average depth of four feet.” 13 likes
“Technopoly is to say that its information immune system is inoperable. Technopoly is a form of cultural AIDS, which I here use as an acronym for Anti-Information Deficiency Syndrome. This is why it is possible to say almost anything without contradiction provided you begin your utterance with the words “A study has shown …” or “Scientists now tell us that …” More important, it is why in a Technopoly there can be no transcendent sense of purpose or meaning, no cultural coherence. Information is dangerous when it has no place to go, when there is no theory to which it applies, no pattern in which it fits, when there is no higher purpose that it serves. Alfred North Whitehead called such information “inert,” but that metaphor is too passive. Information without regulation can be lethal.” 10 likes
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