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Bradbury: "Get Off The Internets, You Kids!"

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message 1: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments From an interview Ray Bradbury recently did with the LA Times:

"We have too many cellphones. We've got too many Internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now.”

Bradbury wrote darkly about bookburning in "Fahrenheit 451," but he sounds ready to use a Kindle for kindling. "I was approached three times during the last year by Internet companies wanting to put my books" on an electronic reading device, he said. "I said to Yahoo, 'Prick up your ears and go to hell.' "


*headthud* *headthud* *headthud*

Another great author struck down by the Brain Eater.


message 2: by Sandi (last edited Aug 26, 2010 05:54PM) (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments I did read that Ray Bradbury won't allow any of his books to be released digitally. I just did a search on my Nook and there aren't any available through Barnes & Noble.

Ray Bradbury is one of the authors who really turned me on to science fiction and fantasy. He was the forefather of modern urban fantasy with great books like Something Wicked This Way Comes. I just think it's a shame that he's become such an old fuddy-duddy. I even heard an interview with him on the Starship Sofa podcast where he emphatically says that he's not a science fiction writer. It's very sad that such a visionary writer has been unable to keep up with the modern world.


message 3: by Richard (new)

Richard Guion (giantsizegeek) | 158 comments I don't think Bradbury ever considered himself a science fiction writer. He always saw himself as a fantasist. That may be splitting hairs to us.

There is one writer that appears to have almost no e-books (outside of SF) and that is Michael Chabon. You can't get The Yiddish Policemen's Union for the Kindle. Anyone know if this is Chabon's refusal?


message 4: by Otto (new)

Otto (andrewlinke) | 110 comments I suppose you could argue that ebooks would just make the Firemen's jobs easier in some 451v2, but this is sad.

Internet and cell phones certainly have contributed to a shortened attention span (or just a greater availability of distractions) but they have also provided so many opportunitites for creative expression.


message 5: by Stan (last edited Aug 27, 2010 01:10PM) (new)

Stan Slaughter | 359 comments This is pretty understandable.

I can't think of one story by Bradbury where machines were considered "good". Most of his stories cast machines as evil or at least de-humanizing.

==== Fahrenheit 451 ====

Quote: "The mechanical hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back in a dark corner of the firehouse."

Quote: "It doesn't think anything we don't want it to think."

==== The Martian Chronicles ====

Quote: "The rockets came like drums, beating in the night. The rockets came like locusts, swarming and settling in blooms of rosy smoke."

==== Something Wicked This Way Comes ====

Quote: "Those trains and their grieving sounds were lost forever between stations, not remembering where they had been, not guessing where they might go, exhaling their last pale breaths over the horizon, gone. So it was with all trains, ever."

==== Dandelion Wine ====

Quote: "How have we used machines so far, to make people cry? Yes! Every time man and machine look like they will get on all right --boom! Someone adds a cog, airplanes drop bombs on us, cars run us off cliffs. So it the boy wrong to ask? No! No..."

==== The Illustrated Man ====

Quote: "All that he really knew was that if he stayed here he would soon be the property of a lot of things that buzzed and snorted and hissed, that give off fumes or stenches. In six months he would be the owner of a large pink, trained ulcer, a blood pressure of algebraic dimensions, a myopia this side of blindness, and nightmares as deep as oceans and infested with improbable lengths of dream intestines through which he must violently force his way each night. No, no."

Quote: "Can't you recognize the human in the inhuman?" "I'd much rather recognize the inhuman in the human."


message 6: by Jared (last edited Aug 28, 2010 07:23AM) (new)

Jared (notthatjared) | 17 comments Hope I don't get beaten up too bad for saying this, but Mr. Bradbury's got a point. Our society is becoming ever more dependent on technology for news, entertainment, and social interaction. And while I don't think we need to all become Luddites or anything, it wouldn't hurt to take a step back every now and then and ask "do I really need all this stuff?" or "are my gadgets providing fulfillment in my life?" Sometimes, unplugging everything allows us to experience life raw, unpolished, and honest. And sometimes, that's what we need.

As for his decision not to e-publish, the dude's 90! I'd be a bit freaked out too if everything I knew about the publishing biz were changing around me at that age.


message 7: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6118 comments It's disappointing how older scifi writers don't like or keep up with technology. I'm not even sure Harlan Ellison has a computer.


message 8: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Jared wrote: "Hope I don't get beaten up too bad for saying this, but Mr. Bradbury's got a point. Our society is becoming ever more dependent on technology for news, entertainment, and social interaction. "

Becoming? We've always been dependent. Fifty years ago we needed radios, phones, and TVs to get the news. A hundred years ago it was the telegraph and printing press. Even the Romans needed roads and ships to get news in a timely fashion. We just tend not to think of things that have been around all our lives as technology.


message 9: by Jared (last edited Aug 28, 2010 08:33AM) (new)

Jared (notthatjared) | 17 comments Sean wrote: Becoming? We've always been dependent. Fifty years ago we needed radios, phones, and TVs to get the news. A hundred years ago it was the telegraph and printing press. Even the Romans needed roads and ships to get news in a timely fashion. We just tend not to think of things that have been around all our lives as technology.

Fair point to be sure, but I said 'becoming ever more' dependent. Our ancestors didn't have constant access to continually updating news, or twitter feeds or Facebook accounts. I think its safe to say that most people today sit staring at a screen of some kind for more than 50% of their day. Our relationship with technology has changed. That's really what I was getting at I guess.


message 10: by Bryan (last edited Aug 28, 2010 11:59AM) (new)

Bryan (blyoung) | 20 comments Completely off-topic, but something I saw on Mike Brotherton's blog recently that may be another reason Ray Bradbury doesn't like the "internets".

http://www.mikebrotherton.com/?p=2362

Warning: profane, not-safe-for-work, and some may also find it downright disturbing (either that or else extremely funny).


message 11: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments That was truly, truly filthy and disturbing. It was also very funny. I'm so ambivalent. I loved it when she slapped the girl wearing the "I 'heart' Kurt Vonnegut" t-shirt.


message 12: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6118 comments I love the F Me Ray Bradbury song. I should be so lucky.


message 13: by Richard (new)

Richard Guion (giantsizegeek) | 158 comments Jared wrote: "Hope I don't get beaten up too bad for saying this, but Mr. Bradbury's got a point. Our society is becoming ever more dependent on technology for news, entertainment, and social interaction. And w..."

I thought about this more after reading the Bradbury article. He has a point about kids spending too much time on the Internet. Heck, I spend way too much time on it. It's good in many ways--like GoodReads, for example--none of my friends/family read the same books I do, so it's great to share. But too much of anything can be bad, certainly I waste too much time reading Twitter and re-tweeting jokes.

Bradbury being leary of e-books: that's just because he loves paper books so much. I bet he has a huge library.

A lot of us are in love with their Kindles, Nooks, iPads, Sony Readers. What will the future of reading be like in 20 years? I can't even imagine.


message 14: by Stan (new)

Stan Slaughter | 359 comments The "We spend too much time on XXXX and we should stop and smell the roses" argument has been frequently used since the 60's and my grandmother told me the same thing was said in the 1930's about all those crazy "flappers" who drank and danced to jazz music using that crazy phonograph player technology.

The reality is that *nothing* is good when taken to it's extremes. That is why it is called "extreme"


message 15: by Lee (new)

Lee Gibson | 6 comments Jared wrote: "Hope I don't get beaten up too bad for saying this, but Mr. Bradbury's got a point. Our society is becoming ever more dependent on technology for news, entertainment, and social interaction. And w..."

I just think it's sad when somebody says "Well, all the technology that was around when I was a young person was OK, but everything else dehumanizes us!"

That's stupid.

Humans are tool-using animals. Using more tools does not make us less human. Using different tools does not make us less human.

Using tools irresponsibly is certainly to be avoided.


message 16: by Lee (last edited Aug 29, 2010 11:20AM) (new)

Lee Gibson | 6 comments Jared wrote: "Fair point to be sure, but I said 'becoming ever more' dependent. Our ancestors didn't have constant access to continually updating news, or twitter feeds or Facebook accounts. I think its safe to say that most people today sit staring at a screen of some kind for more than 50% of their day. Our relationship with technology has changed. That's really what I was getting at I guess. "

Our ancestors also didn't have access to sanitation.

There were no good old days.

If you think you spend too much time on Facebook, that's an issue you might wish to address in your life. It's silly to project that problem onto the entire species (most of which would really like that sanitation thing to get looked into).


message 17: by Andre (new)

Andre (andreb) | 34 comments The best science fiction authors are good at imagining new technological marvels and also warning us about them. I am not surprised that many of them are choosing not to rapidly adopt the latest technology. The medium in which messages are delivered is important.


message 18: by Lee (new)

Lee Gibson | 6 comments "The medium in which messages are delivered is important. "

That's only true if the message isn't interesting or insightful.


message 19: by Bryan (new)

Bryan (blyoung) | 20 comments @Lee (message 15 & 16) - right on! Well-stated, and well-argued!


message 20: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Jared wrote: "Fair point to be sure, but I said 'becoming ever more' dependent. Our ancestors didn't have constant access to continually updating news, or twitter feeds or Facebook accounts. I think its safe to say that most people today sit staring at a screen of some kind for more than 50% of their day. Our relationship with technology has changed. That's really what I was getting at I guess"

People said the same thing about the "boob tube" -- just check out Ellison's The Glass Teat. I doubt there's ever been a revolutionary invention that didn't have someone saying, "but it makes people dumb/lazy/immoral." There was probably some guy saying, "I don't like this 'writing' stuff. In my day, we had to memorize everything. Kids these days just rely on what someone carved into stone."


message 21: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6118 comments I think right after that book, Ellison wrote for tv on the Twilight Zone.


message 22: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Lee wrote: "Jared wrote: "I just think it's sad when somebody says "Well, all the technology that was around when I was a young person was OK, but everything else dehumanizes us!"

That's stupid."


You want a really insane example? I know a guy on Usenet who still surfs the web with Lynx through telnet on a VT420 terminal running FreeBSD -- because, you know, this whole GUI thing is just a passing fad. There's no need to see images online, because they're all ads and dancing gopher .gifs.

And then he complains when websites don't display correctly on his screen, which quickly spawns a thousand post flame war between everyone telling him to just buy a new computer and install Firefox, and him declaring that all websites should be backwards compatible even unto Mosaic 1.0.


message 23: by Jared (new)

Jared (notthatjared) | 17 comments Lee wrote: "Our ancestors also didn't have access to sanitation.

There were no good old days.

If you think you spend too much time on Facebook, that's an issue you might wish to address in your life. It's silly to project that problem onto the entire species (most of which would really like that sanitation thing to get looked into)."


So I guess assuming that most of the world has no toilets is OK, then? That sounds a bit silly to me too.

Oy...I guess I should have just kept my mouth shut...

I'm well aware that there were no good old days. That wasn't my point. And I'm aware of the 'old fogey technology is bad argument'.
That wasn't the idea I was trying to advocate either.

All I was trying to say is that Mr. Bradbury, and people like him, aren't morons. Snickering at the old folks for their (general) disdain for new technology is also narrow minded. Reading from a physical book as opposed to a Kindle is largely a matter of preference. I think the guy's just worried that we're getting desensitized from the tactile and the visceral, and he's a smart dude, maybe there's a little kernel of truth to what he's saying.

At 90, Mr. Bradbury has seen a startling amount of innovation in his time, and in point of fact, in the same article the OP mentions, he talks about how he thinks NASA should be going back to the moon. He's no Luddite.

The guy didn't just wake up one day and decide not like innovation.
He's just old, and the older one becomes, the harder it is to accept change. Far be it from me to 'project a problem on the entire species', but go talk to almost any elder for more than 10 minutes and you'll see that this is a pretty common phenomenon.


message 24: by Lee (new)

Lee Gibson | 6 comments "ll I was trying to say is that Mr. Bradbury, and people like him, aren't morons."

I don't think he's a moron, I think he's making a silly argument. Some old fogey thought typewriters were a bad idea at one point in history. Those people have never been proven to be correct.

"but go talk to almost any elder for more than 10 minutes and you'll see that this is a pretty common phenomenon. "

Right. Just because Ray Bradbury says it, doesn't mean it's true. Doesn't even mean it's worth considering.

Now, if he had some sort of train of reasoning (such as, "today's e-readers are all based around a DRM business model that takes rights away from the users and is more expensive than paper books, and I don't choose to support that business model"), that's a rational argument. "There's too many Internets." is not a rational argument.


message 25: by Jared (new)

Jared (notthatjared) | 17 comments Lee wrote: "Some old fogey thought typewriters were a bad idea at one point in history. Those people have never been proven to be correct."

Another old fogey thought atom bombs were a bad idea. Turns out he was right. Truth is, there are as many examples of tech being bad as there are of tech being beneficial. But all that's just getting into the weeds.

Lee wrote: "There's too many Internets." is not a rational argument.

So? He's giving an opinion to a newspaper, not speaking at TED. His opinion is a matter of subjective choice. He doesn't have to mount a structured, collegial defense of his viewpoint. Some people prefer listening to vinyl albums over MP3s.
Doesn't make their belief invalid, just different.



message 26: by Lee (new)

Lee Gibson | 6 comments "So? He's giving an opinion to a newspaper, not speaking at TED. "

So? Either it's a good argument or it's not. The forum is irrelevant.

"His opinion is a matter of subjective choice. He doesn't have to mount a structured, collegial defense of his viewpoint."

If he wants to convince rational people of the soundness of his argument, yes he does. If he wants the kids to get off his lawn, he can do whatever he wants.

"Some people prefer listening to vinyl albums over MP3s. Doesn't make their belief invalid, just different. "

That's not what he said. He didn't say "I prefer reading on paper". He said "The Internet is bad and you shouldn't use it." The first is a statement of opinion. The second is a philosophical argument. I wouldn't even contemplate arguing the first point. I (like Mr. Bradbury and all other sentient beings) am entitled to disagree with his second (supposed and made up by me) point in whatever forum I might wish to.


message 27: by Lee (new)

Lee Gibson | 6 comments Jared wrote: "Lee wrote: "Another old fogey thought atom bombs were a bad idea. Turns out he was right. Truth is, there are as many examples of tech being bad as there are of tech being beneficial. But all that's just getting into the weeds.
.."


Sorry, formatting glitch, I missed your first comment.

I don't accept your premise on its face. Leaving the details aside, if you want to make the argument "Technology is a net negative impact on society", you've got quite a mountain to climb.

Me? I think the fact that I can have a discussion with somebody I've never met by typing into a 1" thick chunk of aluminum is pretty darn cool. I think being able to hop on an airplane, basically on a moment's notice, and stand on just about any point on the planet inside a week is pretty awesome. I think the fact that we have extended the carrying capacity of this planet staying ahead of the starvation curve is staggering.

Are there problems? Absolutely. Are there problems related to technology? Sure! Are there problems that cannot be solved with the application of human ingenuity? Well, if we ever find one, I'll let you know.

Opposable thumbs and big brains FTW!


message 28: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Tamahome wrote: "I think right after that book, Ellison wrote for tv on the Twilight Zone."

Outer Limits -- he later sued James Cameron for ripping off his two episodes (Soldier and Demon with a Glass Hand) for The Terminator, even though there's another episode that actually has the guy-from-the-future-wants-to-kill-mother-of-someone-important story.

He also wrote an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, which is more damning for his rants against television. He did have enough self respect to use his "Cordwainer Bird" pseudonym for it.


message 29: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6118 comments When they brought the Twilight Zone back in color, both Ellison & George R R Martin worked on it. Cameron actually admitted in Starlog magazine that he got the Terminator idea from 2 Outer Limits episodes. If you watch the credits of the Terminator, you can see Ellison's name patched in.


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