Today celebrates the would-be eighty-third birthday of Neil Postman. Postman was an author, professor, media scrutinizer, and a cultural commentator. Often labelled a Luddite for his “anti-“technological views, Postman assisted in creating the concept of media ecology. This is the study of how media and technology influence our behaviours and society. Over the last few years I have read four of his books. They are listed with my rating and a quote which summarizes the main idea of the book.
“The uncontrolled growth of technology destroys vital sources of our humanity. It creates a culture without a moral foundation. It undermines certain mental processes and social relations that make human life worth living.”
“This book is an inquiry into and a lamentation about the most significant American cultural fact of the second half of the twentieth century: the decline of the Age of Typography and the ascendancy of the Age of Television. This change-over has dramatically and irreversibly shifted the content and meaning of public discourse, since two media so vastly different cannot accommodate the same ideas.”
The End of Education 3.5/5
“The purpose of public education is to help the young transcend individual identity by finding inspiration in a story of humanity.”
Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century 2/5
“Where shall we look for guidance about what to do and think in the twenty-first century? I suggest we turn our attention to the eighteenth century. It is there that we may find ideas that offer a humane direction to the future, ideas that we can carry with confidence and dignity across the bridge to the twenty-first century.”
Sure his books are challenging, but they are also thought-provoking. Postman was able to foresee the effects which technology would have on our culture. If you read only one Postman book, I would highly recommend Technopoly. I hope to re-read it soon and provide a full review.