The Digital-Age Anthology

The Dumbest Generation was a polemical volume, an indictment of digital tools in the hands of teens and 20-somethings that contained piles of survey data, consumer data, test scores, and scientific studies but drew pointed, value-heavy conclusions from them.  I believe every statement in it is true, but I never assumed that it was The Truth.  For one thing, the nature and implications of digital devices are too fluctuating and immediate and new to allow for any certainty about their impact.  Added to that, too many intelligent and knowledgeable individuals believe the opposite about digital tools and young Americans.

That’s why I put this anthology together, The Digital Divide: Arguments For and Against Facebook, Google, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking, which is available tomorrow.  (Penguin page here; Amazon page here.  Audiobook is here.)  It contains essays and book excerpts by many of the leading Digital Age commentators dating back to 1995 and coming from all sides of the question.  Contributors include:

Nicholas Carr

Clay Shirky

Sherry Turkle

Henry Jenkins

Marc Prensky

Maggie Jackson

Andrew Keen

Steven Johnson

Douglas Rushkoff

Don Tapscott

Todd Gitlin

Tim O’Reilly

Lee Siegel

John Battelle

Urs Gasser and John Palfrey

Cathy Davidson

James Paul Gee

Jakob Nielsen

Maryanne Wolf

Christine Rosen

William Deresiewicz

Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan

Katherine Mangu-Ward

The collection has a dual purpose.  One, it compiles leading voices taking sharply different perspectives and evidence upon the impact of digital tools in people’s leisure and intellectual lives.  And two, it offers a mini-history of thinking about the Web, social networking, etc. from the primitive days of the 90s up to the present.  I don’t know of any anthology like this one, and I hope that its contributors and its breadth foster a richer understanding of the revolution currently under way, one that presses forward between the untenable poles of overdone enthusiasm for the Digital Age and alarmist fears of it.

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