November 13, 2007

Better OFF

I recently finished reading Better OFF: Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende. Brende was a graduate student in Science, Technology, and Society at M.I.T. when he began to feel overwhelmed by the dependency of society on technology. Brende frames technology in terms of machines, motors, and natural resource guzzlers. Determined to find “how much was too much” technology Brende and his wife move to an Amish community and live without electricity for a year. Brende, describing this lifestyle overly utopian and very unhumble terms at times, does give insight to finding a balance between what machines should and shouldn’t help us to do in our daily lives. A graduate student at the time himself he writes, “In the modern university, with its rapid turnover of assignments and fast-paced technology, the human brain is treated as just another processing device and is expected to keep pace with electronic blips…In the absence of fast-paced gizmos…we can simply take our time…by speeding through life with technology, you reduce what any given moment can hold. By slowing down, you expand it.” He concludes that he does need some technology to get by, and that conveniences like running water aren’t just luxuries. But, he prefers living a slower dearer life without “fast paced gizmos”. Though Brende is a bit condesending at times, his book is worth reading.

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