I have more to report on Pacific Standard Time but a channel change seems like a good idea right about now. So here are a few highlights from The Visionary, a portrait of Jaron Lanier by Jennifer Kahn in the New Yorker, July 11 & 18, 2011. (I am particularly fond of Lanier and have written about him previously, here, here and here.)

***
Unlike more Luddite critics, Lanier complains not that technology has taken over our lives but that it has not given us enough back in return. In place of a banquet, we’ve been given a vending machine.

“The thing about technology is that it’s made the world of information ever more dominant,” Lanier told me. “And there’s so much loss in that. It really does feel as if we’ve sworn allegiance to a dwarf world, rather than to a giant world.”

***
About his childhood:
“The trifecta for me was eating chocolate, listening to Bach, and staring at Bosch.”

***
Part of what Lanier finds most regrettable about Facebook—the way it mediates social contact—is precisely what makes it so appealing to most people. “We use technology this way all the time,” Andy van Damn, a professor of computer science at Brown University, notes. “To create a layer of insulation. We send an e-mail so we don’t have to call someone on the phone. Or we call someone so we don’t have to go over to their house.”

***
“My dad was more into ‘Be the Buckminister Fuller or the Frank Lloyd Wright’–be the weird outsider who becomes influential. Which is kind of where I ended up.”

***
Lanier is like “an innovative painter who alternately courts and scorns the establishment.”

Advertisements