You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto [Hardcover]

Jaron Lanier
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 4.68  
Hardcover, Large Print --  
Hardcover, 12 Jan 2010 --  
Paperback 6.99  
Deckle edge paper
This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Book Description

12 Jan 2010
Jaron Lanier, a Silicon Valley visionary since the 1980s, was among the first to predict the revolutionary changes the World Wide Web would bring to commerce and culture. Now, in his first book, written more than two decades after the web was created, Lanier offers this provocative and cautionary look at the way it is transforming our lives for better and for worse.

The current design and function of the web have become so familiar that it is easy to forget that they grew out of programming decisions made decades ago. The web’s first designers made crucial choices (such as making one’s presence anonymous) that have had enormous—and often unintended—consequences. What’s more, these designs quickly became “locked in,” a permanent part of the web’s very structure.

Lanier discusses the technical and cultural problems that can grow out of poorly considered digital design and warns that our financial markets and sites like Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter are elevating the “wisdom” of mobs and computer algorithms over the intelligence and judgment of individuals.

Lanier also shows:
How 1960s antigovernment paranoia influenced the design of the online world and enabled trolling and trivialization in online discourse
How file sharing is killing the artistic middle class;
How a belief in a technological “rapture” motivates some of the most influential technologists
Why a new humanistic technology is necessary.

Controversial and fascinating, You Are Not a Gadget is a deeply felt defense of the individual from an author uniquely qualified to comment on the way technology interacts with our culture.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group; 1 edition (12 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307269647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307269645
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 2.3 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,205,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description


Fabulous - I couldn't put it down and shouted out Yes! Yes! on many pages . . . This is a landmark book that will have people talking and arguing for years into the future. (Lee Smolin )

Lucid, powerful and persuasive . . . Necessary reading for anyone interested in how the Web and the software we use every day are reshaping culture and the marketplace (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times )

A remarkable book punctuated by expansive ideas . . . For those who wish to read to think, and read to transform, You Are Not a Gadget is a book to begin the 2010s (Times Higher Education )

A pioneer in the development of virtual reality and a Silicon Valley veteran, Mr. Lanier is a digital-world insider concerned with the effect that online collectivism and the current enshrinement of "the wisdom of the crowd" is having on artists, intellectual property rights and the larger social and cultural landscape. In taking on such issues, he's written an illuminating book that is as provocative as it is impassioned. (Michiko Kakutani's Top 10 Books Of The Year 2010 New York Times )

In the world of technologists, Jaron Lanier is that rare combination: a pioneer and a skeptic. A legendary computer scientist, he did crucial early work in the field of virtual reality (the phrase is his). But he now recoils at the way Web 2.0 and social media sell us short as human beings, both in our relationships and in our sense of who we are. In purposeful, reasoned steps, always informed by a profound understanding of how software really works, he lays out his vision of where it all went wrong and champions the power of the human brain in an age of ever smarter machines. (Lev Grossman Time Magazine Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010 ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jaron Lanier is known as the father of virtual reality technology and has worked on the interface between computer science and medicine, physics, and neuroscience. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The essence of the book is Lanier's attempt to answer the question: "What happens when we stop shaping technology and technology starts shaping us?"

An early Silicon Valley visionary, Lanier's book essentially has two halves. The first is an inquiry into what happens to human relationships the more we cede our social interaction to technology. He then shifts gear and expounds a new philosophy as he explores possible future directions for human society and our relationship with technology. I got a little lost in the latter, and I suspect the book could have done with a bit more editing (or my brain is not big enough; you decide....)

The strongest sections are when Lanier paints a coherent picture of what happens when technology is elevated above humanity. He talks of the "digital hive growing at the expense of humanity", and in many ways the first few chapters are a re-stating of the primacy of physical reality when it comes to the lived experience of human society. It argues that the 'noosphere' - a supposed global brain formed of the sum of all the brains connected to the internet - leads us to become little more than computer peripherals. Social networking is seen as something that reduces us as people. And 'the wisdom of crowds', increasingly invoked by some as both a 'good thing' and a possible solution to helping society find answers to the more intractable challenges we face, is challenged.

If you look at what Lanier is saying through the lens of a systems thinking, he is arguing for a reappraisal of the patterns that we are creating around human society and technology, and exploring what conditions we might change or add in order to improve things e.g. a reappraisal of how we pay for data/content.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and useful 15 Feb 2010
If you have ever felt uneasy about the way things are developing on the internet... how creativity and originality seem to be being buried under a landslide of mash-ups, viral jokes and cut-and-paste blipverts... how the opinions of thousands of idiots seem to be more important than those of experts.

Read this, and find out why you are right to feel uneasy.

This book, from a man who helped design the way things are now, is explaining what has gone wrong and how it could get much worse if things are not fixed. It's not too technical, and he does a good job of linking it to current theories about artificial intelligence and linguistics, among other fields.

He's better at saying what's wrong than how to fix it, but very much worth a read if you have the slightest interest in modern computer technology and how it is affecting society.
Was this review helpful to you?
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dystopia 2.0 anybody? 20 July 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Back in the 1990's, my friends and I would listen to Terence McKenna's spellbinding talks on the subject of the then embryonic information super highway. McKenna was convinced of the utopian possibilities of the internet. Cultural free for alls and other fun ontology's promised by the internet would free our minds from our Gnostic drudgery, awaken the collective unconscious, demolish the cultural pillars of Christian civilisation and kick the doors off heavens hinges; phew!. This brave new world was going to herald the cultural singularity and the new dawn; and finally, we were all to transcend to silicon light, (You had to be there I guess).

According to McKenna and indeed Jaron Lanier -and most silicon entrepreneurs at the time- the internet will allow us all an existence in the radiant afterglow of a post-western civilisation. Capitalist values will be swept away, along with adverts and 'male dominator' politics, "We'll go there and we'll leave the Earth and dance forever in the astral imagination" (McKenna)!

Jaron Lanier now admits this was foolish and he's trying to warn us all before 'lock in' will halt our humanness and turn us all into technological serfs.

Lanier is arguing that if we fast forward 20 odd years from now, then capitalism is indeed wobbling at the foundations (but not at the top you see). This means that we serfs are suffering down bellow; and it gets worse. While we work for nothing, like when we write unpaid reviews on Amazon or 'help' Wikipedia, the 'lords of the clouds' have monopolised the creative surplus and are squeezing the middle class until the pips squeak!
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"You are Not a Gadget" by Jaron Lanier is a book written by a Silicon Valley visionary since the 80s, a man who predicted the changes Internet would bring to our lifestyle, culture and commerce.

Lanier who is father of virtual reality technology and founder of once popular Atari software company, was also a pioneer in digital media business therefore he was able to realize long time ago what revolutionary changes would development of the World Wide Web bring to our world.
Due to that, he had every right to write this book that offers provocative critique of how digital world changed and still is changing our world, in good, but also less good way.

In his book, Lanier due to his rich experience and computer expertise speaks about the technical and cultural problems that have appeared due to the rapid development of technology, especially regarding the nature of user identity.
He warns that with social networks entering in all aspects of our society and life, artificial intelligence of computers and different gadgets all people use these days are elevating over the intelligence of humans.

The result, as he sees it, is that certain specific, today popular Internet designs, not the Internet as a whole, tend to pull users into life patterns that slowly degrade the ways in which human beings exist as individuals.
He continues with critics that those people who live from their creativity like writers or different artists, are under enormous pressure by Internet providers who want their art only as the background, as way that will enable them to generate large revenues from advertising.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and wide ranging
I really enjoyed this book. Its good to hear the argument for maintaining a core of humanism/personality in the digital world with the freedom from being labelled a Luddite. Read more
Published 4 months ago by NKW
5.0 out of 5 stars Not even close to being a gadget
‘You are not a gadget - a manifesto’, by Jaron Lanier

Have carried this book around with me for a couple of years. Just finished it today. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Barry
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you in The Cloud ?
Can you avoid The Cloud ? Are you what The Cloud says you are ?Can you change ?
Read this book ! Read more
Published 13 months ago by J.S.Callaghan
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read book for anyone interested in Internet culture and social...
An amazing book, easy to read and follow despite what might feel like heavy subject matter, I would heavily recommend this book to anyone who consumes Internet culture, uses social... Read more
Published 16 months ago by jade M
1.0 out of 5 stars Promises so much!
I was really looking forward to reading this book, but it was a real letdown. It promised so much but delivered so little and never really came to anything more than a bunch of... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Avid Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Lanier has to reconsider his vision of language
This book is small by its size but it is enormous by the subject it discusses. He starts in an extremely positive way by saying: "Technologies are extensions of ourselves." (p. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Jacques COULARDEAU
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
Jaron Lanier is a genius. This book shows how important culture is in developing technology and how we should keep in mind that we can shape the way that new media is used.
Published 19 months ago by Etan Ilfeld
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative
Lanier is a computer scientist and philosopher and this is his eloquent statement on Web 2.0 and where he thinks things are heading. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Philtrum
5.0 out of 5 stars A great humanist analysis
There are now a number of excellent academic books about the dark side of the Internet, for example Jonathan Zittrain's 'The Future of the Internet' and Goldsmith and Wu's 'Who... Read more
Published on 28 Mar 2011 by JKLeeds
3.0 out of 5 stars Why is the electronic version double the price of the paperback?
Why is the Kindle version *double* the price of the paperback? I thought electronic delivery was meant to be cheaper :-/
Published on 2 Feb 2011 by J. Houghton
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
"Jaron Lanier,,, inventor of Virtual Reality" 2 25 Nov 2012
See all discussions...  
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions

Look for similar items by category