It is said that information wants to be free, but most
days on the net, don't you feel that all it wants to do is be in your face
every last minute? Did you ever feel yourself go "tilt" when a search engine
retrieves 30,000 possible hits to your query? Or downloads 50 pieces of new
e-mail? Perhaps some relief will come when you know the Laws of Data Smog
that frame this book, among them: Silicon circuits evolve much more quickly
than human genes; Equifax is watching; Beware of stories that dissolve all
complexity; Too many experts spoil the clarity. David Shenk is certainly
going to stir controversy with his conclusions, especially that government
should get involved in reducing the information glut. --This text
refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The New York Times
"An indispensable guide to the big picture of
technology's cultural impact."
"Data Smog is the Silent Springfor the Digital Age."
-- Chicago Tribune
A concise, insightful, and welcome critique of the
communications world we have created."
New York Post
"A must read for technophiles and neo-Luddites alike."
"If you're looking for a survival guide for the
information age, this is your book."
"A concise, insightful, and welcome critique of the
communications world we have created."
Media scholar ( and Internet Enthusiast ) David Shenk
examines the troubling effects of information proliferation on our bodies,
our brains, our relationships, and our culture, then offers strikingly
down-to-earth insights for coping with the deluge.
With a skillful mixture of personal essay, firsthand reportage, and sharp
analysis, Shenk illustrates the central paradox of our time: as our world
gets more complex, our responses to it become increasingly simplistic. He
draws convincing links between data smog and stress distraction, indecision,
cultural fragmentation, social vulgarity, and more.
But there's hope for a saner, more meaningful future, as Shenk offers a
wealth of novel prescriptions--both personal and societal--for dispelling
Skillfully exploring the highly touted myth of the
Information Age, a well-known commentator brings a balanced perspective to
technology's ever-changing face and its sometimes invisible effects on
culture as a whole. $25,000 ad/promo. --This text refers to an out of
print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
Cyberpundit and media scholar David Shenk launches a
trenchant and informed critique of the impact of data smog -- information
overload -- on individual well-being and our society as a whole. Picking up
where Silicon Snake Oil and The Gutenberg Elegies left off, Shenk skillfully
explodes the rosy myths of the technological revolution, points the way
toward a saner and more meaningful future, and offers the most convincing
and thorough rebuttal yet of the overhyping of the Information Age.
More Praise for Data Smog:
"Over the past 150 years, humanity solved the problem of information
scarcity. In solving it, we created the problem of information glut,
incoherence and meaninglessness. David Shenk's brilliant book names the
problem, describes it, explains it and -- God bless him -- offers us help in
coping with it."
- NEIL POSTMAN, author, Technopoly and Amusing Ourselves to Death
"This could be the Silent Spring for the Digital Age. Data Smog shows the
very real threats that we now face. We ignore them at our peril."
- SIMSON GARFINKEL, columnist, Hotwired
"Data Smog is quite wonderful...a smart warning by a savvy aficionado of
cyber-culture to be wary of too much of a good thing."
- ORVILLE SCHELL, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism, University of
California at Berkeley
"This book breaks new ground. Here you will find a public ethic for an
era of too-much information, delivered in a succinct and heroically civil
style that puts to shame an entire shelf of books on the coming media
environment. Shenk is a citizen writing for other beleaguered
citizens...Data Smog is really a book about democracy and what it will take
to keep that troubled idea alive and breathing in years ahead."
- JAY ROSEN, Director, Project on Public Life and the Press, New York
"This book is an oxygen mask. Take it along when you need to breathe.
This careful, informed and passionate argument should take the stuffing
right out of the cheerleaders of the (indiscriminate) Information Age."
- ANDREI CODRESCU, commentator, National Public Radio
"Data Smog offers a rare combination of extensive research, clear
thinking, lucid writing and valuable advice. It's a must for anybody feeling
overwhelmed but underserved by today's information sources."
- EDWARD TENNER, author, Why Things Bite Back
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this
From the Inside Flap
We are awash in information: faxes, e-mail, news,
infotainment, and advertising overwhelm us even as CEOs and politicians
herald the dawn of a glorious and profitable Information Age. Media scholar
and cyber-pundit David Shenk deftly dismantles all the hype and exposes the
unsettling impact of information overload, or data smog , on our individual
well-being (emotional and physical) and on our society at large. This
myth-shattering manifesto also outlines a welter of practical strategies for
minimizing data smog's polluting effects--from curtailing junkmail and
telephone sales pitches to instituting all out "data-feasts."
Chronicling his own longstanding infatuation with information technology,
and assessing our culture's unquestioning devotion to it, Shenk adds a
direct, personal voice to a compelling mixture of firsthand reportage,
insider intelligence, and incisive analysis. He skillfully explodes the rosy
myths of the Information Age by cataloguing the effects technology has
wrought, on our bodies, our minds, our relationships, and our policy. Still
largely invisible, those profound cultural consequences become evident here,
as Shenk draws convincing links between data smog and social fragmentation,
declining educational standards, political fractiousness, religious
fundamentalism, and more. Shenk does more than raise our consciousness,
though: he offers a wealth of novel prescriptions, both personal and
societal, for dispelling data smog.
For a world that increasingly favors speed above content, image above
meaning, instant reaction above careful deliberation, Data Smog provides
trenchant, lucidly reasoned alternatives that help us assess rather than
embrace every new technology, and points the way toward a saner and more
About the Author
David Shenk, a former Freedom Forum fellow, has written
for Wired, Harper's, The New Republic, the New York Times and the Washington
Post, and is a commentator for National Public Radio's "All Things