“Amusing Ourselves to Death”. While I’m telling you what to do, I think everyone should read Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” From Wikipedia:

The essential premise of the book, which Postman extends to the rest of his argument(s), is that “form excludes the content,” that is, a particular medium can only sustain a particular level of ideas. Thus Rational argument, integral to print typography, is militated against by the medium of television for the aforesaid reason. Owing to this shortcoming, politics and religion are diluted, and “news of the day” becomes a packaged commodity. Television de-emphasises the quality of information in favour of satisfying the far-reaching needs of entertainment, by which information is encumbered and to which it is subordinate.

America was formed as, and made possible by, a literate society, a society of readers, when presidential debates took five hours. But television (and other electronic media) erode many of the modes in which we (i.e., the world, not just America) think.

If you work in media (and software developers, software is very much a medium) then you have a responsibility to read and understand this book. Your local library should have a copy, too.



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