Input Please? Review v 0.1 of My Technology Criticism Reading List
Reading together has always been important to me. It’s the reason I started up an instance of Tech Book Club and helped kick off Angry Tech Salon back in Cambridge. Now that I’m in Singapore I have fewer opportunities to share reading notes in person. Thankfully, there’s internet! Inspired by other colleagues who conduct research in the open and share their process like Nate Matias recently did with his generals reading, I wanted do the same with my Tow Center Technology Criticism research.
When I kicked off this project, I scoured nearly 6+ years of Evernote clippings and archived syllabi and PDFs, and dusted off my copy of Zotero to compile a megalist. The list is a foundation of all the influences, arguments, and conversations that led me to this project and motivates my desire to carve out this space more clearly. These works have informed my approach to writing about technology.
More on the project:
Contemporary technology criticism is a product of the internet, characterized by oversimplified binary questions, clickbait headlines, and sensationalizing explorations of moral panics and progress narratives. Technology criticism has the potential to play an operative role in shaping the design, adoption, and policies around emerging technologies. Sara’s Tow Center work explores how Constructive Technology Criticism can improve the broader cultural discourse about technology, not only commenting on the technologies we have, but also influencing and shaping the technologies we want.
I’m doing a deep dive into this background reading, revisiting favorites, getting around to stuff that I know I should have read by now. I’m sharing my notes and thoughts when I can, and I’ll write up some of the important things that surface throughout this research process.
Eventually, I plan to turn this list into a more polished syllabus or suggested reading list for journalists in the field and for students in training. And while they may not directly apply to journalistic writing, I’m including fiction and movies here, too because I think they can have a big impact on public discourse about technology.
In the interest of participatory research, I could use your help to build out this list in progress. Given my interdisciplinary background, this list is by no means comprehensive or canon. And I’m drawing in a few less-than tradition sources like podcasts and literary fiction that are doing some important work that I think exemplifies a critical, balanced, and humanist approach to constructive technology criticism.
What are your favorite examples of technology criticism? What books or articles influence the way you think and write about technology? Any examples of tech writing that make you cringe? Where are my institutional and disciplinary blind spots? What are the pieces of technolgoy writing you keep going back to, the ones that made you go “huh,” the ones that got you so angry you tweetstormed about them? And if you’ve got a suggestion for a more dynamic tool for collaborative reading lists, send it my way!
Comment below here, or comment specifically on individual listings in the post on Medium, reach me at email@example.com or send any suggestions @smwat. And thanks for reading along with me!
Tech Criticism in the Wild
Abreu, Amelia. 2015. “The Collection and the Cloud.” The New Inquiry.
Bilton, Nick. 2014. “The Demise of the Pen.” The New York Times.
Bostrom, Nick. 2014. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies.
- Carr, Nicholas. 2008. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The Atlantic.
- ———. 2015. The Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing Us.
- Chachra, Debbie. 2015. “Why I Am Not a Maker.” The Atlantic.
- Crawford, Kate. 2014. “The Anxieties of Big Data.” The New Inquiry.
- ———. 2014. “When Fitbit Is the Expert Witness.” The Atlantic.
- Eveleth, Rose. 2014. “How Self-Tracking Apps Exclude Women.” The Atlantic.
- ———. 2015. “Man Hands.” Motherboard.
- Ford, Paul. 2015. “What Is Code? If You Don’t Know, You Need to Read This.” Bloomberg.com.
- Franklin, Ursula. 1999. The Real World of Technology.
- Gleick, James. 2012. The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood.
- Hardy, Quentin. 2015. “Why Big Data Is Not Truth.” Bits Blog.
- Hendren, Sara. 2014. “All Technology Is Assistive: Six Design Rules on ‘disability.’” Medium.
- Heffernan, Virginia. 2011. “The Web Is Magic! (And a Drag.).” The New York Times
- ———. 2014. “Texters and Gamers.” Medium.
- ———. 2015. “A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute.” The New York Times.
- Jurgenson, Nathan. 2013. “The Disconnectionists.” The New Inquiry.
- Kelly, Kevin. 2010. What Technology Wants.
- Lanier, Jaron. 2009. You Are Not a Gadget.
- Lepore, Jill. 2015. “What the Gospel of Innovation Gets Wrong.” The New Yorker.
- Lessig, Lawrence. 2006. Code. Version 2.0.
- Losse, Katherine. 2012. The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network.
- Mayer-Schönberger, Viktor. 2011. Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age.
- Morozov, Evgeny. 2012. The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom.
- ———. 2013. To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism.
- ———. 2014. “The Mindfulness Racket.” The New Republic.
- ———. 2015. “The Meme Hustler.” The Baffler.
- Pariser, Eli. 2012. The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think.
- Rosen, Rebecca J. 2013. “Why Are Glasses Perceived Differently Than Hearing Aids?” The Atlantic.
- Rudder, Christian. 2015. Dataclysm: Love, Sex, Race, and Identity–What Our Online Lives Tell Us about Our Offline Selves.
- Rushkoff, Douglas. 2010. Program or Be Programmed.
- Schneier, Bruce. 2015. Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World.
- Spencer, Keith A. 2015. “Why the Rich Love Burning Man.” Jacobin.
- Standage, Tom. 1998. The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Centuryʾs on-Line Pioneers.
- Stephenson, Neal. 1996. “Mother Earth Mother Board.” Wired.
- Turkle, Sherry. 2011. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.
- Thompson, Clive. 2013. “Googling Yourself Takes on a Whole New Meaning.” The New York Times.
Tufekci, Zeynep. 2015a. “Volkswagen and the Era of Cheating Software.” The New York Times.
- ———. 2015b. “The Trouble with the ‘uber For…’ Economy.” Medium.
- Vaidhyanathan, Siva. 2012. The Googlization of Everything.
Wortham, Jenna. 2015a. “‘Black Mirror’ and the Horrors and Delights of Technology.” The New York Times.
- ———. 2015. “Personal (Search) History.” The New York Times.
- ———. 2015c. “Netromancy.” The New York Times.
- Wu, Tim. 2011. The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.
- Zittrain, Jonathan. 2008. The Future of the Internet–And How to Stop It.
- ———. 2014. “Facebook Could Decide an Election Without Anyone Ever Finding Out.” The New Republic.
Theory, STS, Media Studies, Philosophy, Etc.
Balsamo, Anne. 1995. Technologies of the Gendered Body: Reading Cyborg Women.
- Barthes, Roland. 1972. Mythologies.
Bolter, J. David, and Richard Grusin. 1999. Remediation: Understanding New Media.
- Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. 1985. More Work For Mother: The Ironies Of Household Technology From The Open Hearth To The Microwave.
Daston, Lorraine J., and Peter Galison. 2007. Objectivity.
Dunne, Anthony, and Fiona Raby. 2001. Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects.
Dunne, Anthony. 2005. Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience, and Critical Design.
- Dunne, Anthony, and Fiona Raby. 2013. Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming.
- Edgerton, David. 2011. The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900.
- Feenberg, Andrew, and Andrew Feenberg. 2002. Transforming Technology: A Critical Theory Revisited.
- Floridi, Luciano. 2014. The Fourth Revolution: How the Infosphere Is Reshaping Human Reality.
Foucault, Michel, and Rogers D. Spotswood Collection. 1969. The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language.
- Foucault, Michel. 1966. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences.
Gitelman, Lisa. 2008. Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture.
- Haraway, Donna. 1990. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature.
- ———. 1983. “Cyborg Manifesto.” The Cybercultures Reader
Hayles, N. Katherine. 1999. How We Became Posthuman.
- Hughes, Thomas P., and Wiebe Bijker, eds. 1987. The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology.
- Joerges, Bernward. 1999. “Do Politics Have Artefacts?” Social Studies of Science.
- Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory.
- ———. 1991. We Have Never Been Modern.
Manovich, Lev. 2001. The Language of New Media.
- ———. 2013. Software Takes Command.
- Nye, David E. 1994. American Technological Sublime.
- Ramsay, Stephen. 2011. Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism.
- Scott, James C. 1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed.
- Shapin, Steven, and Simon Schaffer. 1985. Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life.
- Smith, Merritt Roe. 1994. Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism.
- Winner, Langdon. 1980. “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” Daedalus.
- ———. 1986. Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology.
- ———. 1993. “Upon Opening the Black Box and Finding It Empty: Social Constructivism and the Philosophy of Technology.” Science, Technology, & Human Values.
Woolgar, S. 1991. “The Turn to Technology in Social Studies of Science.” Science, Technology & Human Values.
Meta Criticism Commentary
- Benton, Joshua. 2015. “The ‘death’ of ‘tech Blogging’?” Nieman Lab.
Bratton, Benjamin. 2013. “We Need to Talk about TED.” The Guardian
- Carr, Nicholas. 2015. “A Litmus Test for Technology Critics.” ROUGH TYPE.
- Farrell, Henry. 2015. “The Tech Intellectuals.” Democracy Journal.
- Finnegan, Leah. 2015. “Nick Bilton Is the New Worst Columnist at the New York Times.” Gawker.
- Jurgenson, Nathan. 2012. “Against TED.” The New Inquiry.
- ———. 2015. “The Rise of the Internet (Anti)-Intellectual?” Cyborgology.
- Madrigal, Alexis C. 2012. “The Jig Is Up: Time to Get Past Facebook and Invent a New Future.” The Atlantic.
- ———. 2013. “Toward a Complex, Realistic, and Moral Tech Criticism.” The Atlantic.
Maly, Tim. 2013. “Tomorrow’s Thomas Friedman: Every Generation Needs Someone Who Can Make Big Ideas Small.” Medium.
- Morozov, Evgeny. 2011. “The Internet Intellectual.” The New Republic.
- ———. 2015. “The Taming of Tech Criticism.” The Baffler.
- Sanger, Larry. 2015. “Is There a New Geek Anti-Intellectualism?” Larry Sanger Blog.
- Selinger, Evan. 2015. “Too Much Magic, Too Little Social Friction” The Los Angeles Review of Books.
- ———. 2015. “Blaming the Internet Is Not the Answer” The Los Angeles Review of Books.
- ———. 2015. “OkCupid’s XOXO for Big Surveillance” The Los Angeles Review of Books.
Selinger, Evan. 2014. “Why It’s Too Easy To Dismiss Technology Critics: Or, The Fallacies Leading A Reviewer To Call Nicholas Carr Paranoid.” Forbes.
- Taylor, Astra and Joanne McNeil. 2014. The Dads of Tech. The Baffler.
- Wieseltier, Leon. 2015. “Among the Disrupted.” The New York Times.
- Zamost, Aaron. 2015. “What’s Your Hour in ‘Silicon Valley Time’?” Medium.
- Eveleth, Rose. 2015. “Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?” The Atlantic.
- ———. 2015. “The ‘Kitchen of the Future’ Isn’t Just Retro, It’s Regressive.” Eater.
- McNeil, Joanne. 2015. “Postcards from the Futch.” Medium.
- Toffler, Alvin. 1970. Future Shock.
Historical Tech Criticism
- McLuhan, Marshall. 1962. The Gutenberg Galaxy.
- ———. 1964. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.
- Mumford, Lewis. 1967. The Myth of the Machine: Technics and Human Development.
- Mumford, Lewis. 1934. Technics and Civilization.
- Nye, David. 1990. Electrifying America: Social Meanings of a New Technology, 1880-1940.
- Postman, Neil. 1992. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology.
- Postman, Neil. 1985. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.
Wiener, Norbert. 1948. Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine.
- Deresiewicz, William. 2015. “How Wood Works: The Riches and Limits of James Wood.” The Nation.
- Eagleton, Terry. 1984. The Function of Criticism.
- Editors, The. 2015. “Designated Haters.” n+1.
Frye, Northrop. 1957. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays.
- Gumport, Elizabeth. 2015. “Against Reviews.” n+1.
- Kirsch, Adam, and Charles Mcgrath. 2015. “Is Everyone Qualified to Be a Critic?” The New York Times.
- Lange, Alexandra, and Jeremy M. Lange. 2012. Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities.
- Mendelsohn, Daniel. 2015. “A Critic’s Manifesto.” The New Yorker.
- Ozick, Cynthia. 2007. “Literary Entrails.” Harper’s Magazine.
- Sontag, Susan. 1966. Against Interpretation: And Other Essays.
- Cohen, Joshua. 2015. Book of Numbers: A Novel.
- Eggers, Dave. 2013. The Circle.
- Franzen, Jonathan. 2015. Purity: A Novel.
- Pynchon, Thomas. 2013. Bleeding Edge.
- Shteyngart, Gary. 2010. Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel.
Atlschuler, John, Mike Judge, and Dave Krinsky. 2014–15. Silicon Valley.
Brooker, Charlie. 2011–15. Black Mirror.
- Garland, Alex. 2015. Ex Machina.
- Jonze, Spike. 2013. Her.
Nussbaum, Emily. 2012. “Net Gain.” The New Yorker.
- Oliver, John. 2015. “Net Neutrality.” Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.