Summary of “Franklin Foer on Technology’s Surprising Threat to Humanity”

I haven’t read it yet, but this morning, on returning from a family camping trip, I read Foer’s essay in today’s Washington Post and a recent interview with The Verge.
According to the interview in The Verge, Foer writes in the book: “The tech companies are destroying the possibility of contemplation.”
This premise is one I obviously support, having written an entire book on why we should fight to retain our diminishing ability for sustained attention.
“We’re being dinged, notified, and clickbaited, which interrupts any sort of possibility for contemplation. To me, the destruction of contemplation is the existential threat to our humanity.”
In using this strong language, Foer is hitting on an increasingly urgent point that I’ve also seen fruitfully explored in Matt Crawford and Jaron Lanier’s humanist critiques of the attention economy.
Whereas I’m often focused on the immediate practical concerns of new technologies, an increasing number of thinkers like Foer, Crawford and Lanier are exploring a bigger point: when we allow ourselves to be washed away by the latest gadget or app designed to extract some more dollars from our attention, we’re not just losing some time, we’re actually losing something more fundamental about what it means to be an autonomous human.
When you hear an argument enough times, it probably makes sense to start taking it seriously.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Who Owns the Internet?”

The experience, Foer writes, was “Exhilarating.” Later, he became the editor of The New Republic.
Foer saw Hughes as a “Savior,” who could provide, in addition to cash, “An insider’s knowledge of social media” and “a millennial imprimatur.” The two men set out to revitalize the magazine, hiring high-priced talent and redesigning the Web site.
In the fall of 2014, Foer heard that Hughes had hired someone to replace him, and that this shadow editor was “Lunching around New York offering jobs at The New Republic.” Before Hughes had a chance to fire him, Foer quit, and most of the magazine’s editorial staff left with him.
“World Without Mind” is a reflection on Foer’s experiences and on the larger forces reshaping American arts and letters, or what’s nowadays often called “Content.”
Much of Foer’s anger, like Taplin’s, is directed at piracy.
For whatever reason, the killing went viral and, according to Foer, “Every news organization” rushed to get in on the story, “So it could scrape some traffic from it.” He lists with evident scorn the titles of posts from Vox-“Eating Chicken Is Morally Worse Than Killing Cecil the Lion”-and The Atlantic’s Web site: “From Cecil the Lion to Climate Change: A Perfect Storm of Outrage.”
“Trump began as Cecil the Lion, and then ended up president of the United States,” Foer writes.
In Foer’s telling, it would be a lot easier to fix an election these days than it was in 1876, and a lot harder for anyone to know about it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Who Owns the Internet?”

The experience, Foer writes, was “Exhilarating.” Later, he became the editor of The New Republic.
Foer saw Hughes as a “Savior,” who could provide, in addition to cash, “An insider’s knowledge of social media” and “a millennial imprimatur.” The two men set out to revitalize the magazine, hiring high-priced talent and redesigning the Web site.
In the fall of 2014, Foer heard that Hughes had hired someone to replace him, and that this shadow editor was “Lunching around New York offering jobs at The New Republic.” Before Hughes had a chance to fire him, Foer quit, and most of the magazine’s editorial staff left with him.
“World Without Mind” is a reflection on Foer’s experiences and on the larger forces reshaping American arts and letters, or what’s nowadays often called “Content.”
Much of Foer’s anger, like Taplin’s, is directed at piracy.
For whatever reason, the killing went viral and, according to Foer, “Every news organization” rushed to get in on the story, “So it could scrape some traffic from it.” He lists with evident scorn the titles of posts from Vox-“Eating Chicken Is Morally Worse Than Killing Cecil the Lion”-and The Atlantic’s Web site: “From Cecil the Lion to Climate Change: A Perfect Storm of Outrage.”
“Trump began as Cecil the Lion, and then ended up president of the United States,” Foer writes.
In Foer’s telling, it would be a lot easier to fix an election these days than it was in 1876, and a lot harder for anyone to know about it.

The orginal article.