Devices of the Soul

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Book: Steve Talbott. Devices of the Soul: Battling for Our Selves in an Age of Machines. O'Reilly, 2007


Thoughtfull essays by the editor of the NetFuture newsletter, on the (inter)subjective aspects of computing, seen from a wholistic, 'Goethean', perspective.


"In Devices of the Soul, Steve Talbott challenges readers to critically examine society's ever-increasing detachment from its physical surroundings and reflect on its growing dependence on techno-wizardry. Why? In an era when 65 percent of American consumers spend more time with their PCs than with their loved ones, according to a recent study, Talbott insists something vital is slipping away--our Selves, the human spirit from which technology stems.

"Self-forgetfulness is the reigning temptation of the technological era. This is why we so readily give our assent to the absurd proposition that a computer can add two plus two, despite the obvious fact that it can do nothing of the sort-not if we have in mind anything remotely resembling what we do when we add numbers," writes Talbott. "In the computer's case, the mechanics of addition involve no motivation, no consciousness of the task, no mobilization of the will, no metabolic activity, no imagination. And its performance brings neither the satisfaction of accomplishment nor the strengthening of practical skills and cognitive capacities." (from the publisher)