14 August 2000 07:00AM
''We are gods, and we might as well get good at it,'' trumpets Kevin Kelly,
ex-editor of Wired magazine. As the hype would have you believe, them damned
digeratis are Nietzschean ubermensch, who believe that the fettering of a free
man's will with troublesome external controls such as pesky government or evil
big businesses is to deny the will of natural man.
Doers, thinkers, writers, inventors - what next, the Prince of Denmark? The
digerati are supposed to be the ones who hold the (biological and electronic)
keys that allow mankind to tinker with itself. They are responsible for creating
buzzy words and catch-phrases that define and control the future of semiotics
and structure/meaning. As this new economic and cultural elite would have
everyone believe, they are not on the frontier, they are the frontier.
However, the digerati are equally criticised for their ''wilful obtuseness''
about ecological concerns, their ''giddy indifference'' to public policy and
perhaps most damningly, their tendency to mistake new tools for new worlds.
These books, then, have been selected with the digerati in mind. Some, like
John Naisbitt's High Tech, High Touch, and Matt Ridley's Geonome are issue-based
works dealing with the most immediate topics of the day: technology and
Paulina Borsook's Cyberselfish and Jane Tidbury's Zen Style each suggest
their own ways of stepping back from the frenzy and reassessing some of the
attitudes and philosophies of today.
Even digerati need some diversions, so the other two fiction works have been
selected for their range of cultural and technologically-based jibes and
references. Digerati, enjoy. Wannabes, these are good reads anyway.
CYBERSELFISH: A CRITICAL ROMP THROUGH THE TERRIBLY LIBERTARIAN CULTURE OF
by Paulina Borsook
Public Affairs, 256 pages, $39.99
Technolibertarianism, says Borsook, is pro-market sensibility co-existing
with an obliviousness to the value of social contract and governance. This is
what the new digital elite are guilty of behind their anti-government,
pro-freedom rhetoric. Pure selfishness! she announces with a clash of her
A regular contributor to Wired Magazine, Borsook has down pat the dyspeptic
sharpness of a commentator for and of the ''I'm-so-cool-I-can't-stand-myself''
generation. Her references range from Thomas Pynchon to Michael Rothschild, and
drop like so many flies throughout the pages. The issues she covers range from
bionomics to cypher-punks to anarchic capitalism
Borsook raises many interesting points about the attitudes and arrogance of
the new cultural elite, but her unabashed and extreme leftism arouses some
suspicions about the fairness of her statements, especially as some of them are
so acid. What is the other side, the reader is led to wonder. For digeratis who
still have a bit of soul and feel like having a good shelling. - Sam I-shan