High Tech High Touch: Technology and Our Search for Meaning

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9780767903837: High Tech High Touch: Technology and Our Search for Meaning
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From John Naisbitt, the preeminent social forecaster of our time and the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Megatrends, a remarkable examination of the role technology plays in our accelerated search for meaning.

With American culture now being increasingly broadcast through technology--from TV and movies to music to the Internet and electronic games--we are living in what John Naisbitt calls the Technologically Intoxicated Zone. This zone is a confusing and distracted state where we both fear and worship technology, where we see technologies as toys and quick-fixes, and where we become obsessed with what is "real" and what is "fake"--from the violent games children play to genetically-engineered animals to whether one can claim to have scaled Everest if supplemental oxygen was used.

It is technology's saturation of American society--with its fabulous innovations and its devastating consequences--that John Naisbitt and his coauthors Nana Naisbitt and Douglas Philips explore in this important and timely book. By conciously examining our relationship with technology as consumers of products, media, and emerging genetic technologies, we can learn to become aware of the impact technology will have on our daily lives, our children, our religiosity, our arts, and our humanness. High Tech/High Touch is a cautionary tale that shows us how to make the most of technology's benefits while minimizing its detrimental effects on our culture.

In a compelling tour of our technological immersion as we work and play and search for a spiritual path, Naisbitt tackles complex questions: Does technology free us from constraints of the physical world, or does it tie us down to our machines? Does it save us time in our day-to-day lives, or does it merely create a void we feel compelled to fill with even more tasks and responsibilities? What about advances in biotechnology? Recent developments in genetic engineering now raise the possibility of a future that will someday be free of the birth defects, disabilities, and diseases that mark our lives today. But in an age where such things are possible, what is natural and what is artificial? And when people can be created in the laboratory as easily as in the womb, what, then, does it truly mean to be human?

Moving from the information and machine technologies of computers, the Internet, and telecommunications to the genetic technologies that are transforming biological science and art, High Tech/High Touch reveals the emerging power we have over our destinies--and the need for a moral compass to guide us. An ideal book to usher in a century in which these issues will become even more timely, High Tech/High Touch deftly explores the world we are creating and the world that is to come.

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The great irony of the high-tech age is that we've become enslaved to devices that were supposed to give us freedom. That's why in High Tech/High Touch, John Naisbitt decided to revisit a chapter from Megatrends, his 1982 bestseller, in which he discussed the split between high tech and what he dubbed "high touch."

We all know what high tech is--these are the technologies that "make us available 24 hours a day, like a convenience store," Naisbitt writes. He says we live in a "technologically intoxicated zone," the symptoms of which include a continual search for quick fixes and lives that are "distanced and distracted." High touch, on the other hand, is the stuff we give up when we're tuned in to the technological world: hope and fear and longing, love and forgiveness, nature and spirituality. To discover where the twain shall meet, Naisbitt takes us on a journey that includes Celebration, Florida, the Disney-created community that was fully wired from the get-go; Martha Stewart, who shows people with complicated lives how to enjoy simple tasks like gardening; extreme sports and adventure travel, in which ordinary people expose themselves to the full fury of nature and gravity. And that's all just the first quarter of the book; Naisbitt goes on to look at how video games desensitize children to violence; the challenges the human genome project presents to religion and spirituality; and, finally, "specimen art," in which artists create disturbing images of life, death and human sexuality.

There's no conclusion, in the traditional sense, only a look at what's happening in our world. But the reader will probably take some sort of action after finishing High Tech/High Touch: switching off the cell phone for a few hours a day; permanently locking away the children's violent Nintendo games; maybe even booking a vacation at the most remote location possible. Anything to get away from the constant buzz of a wired world. --Lou Schuler

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Praise for High Tech/High Touch:

"High Tech/High Touch is an 'a-ha' book of the first order. John Naisbitt, Nana Naisbitt, and Douglas Philips provide valuable insight into important technological, social, cultural, and artistic developments, which, while happening right under our noses, are blurred by an ever-accelerating world of our own creation."
--Carl Goodman, Curator of Digital Media at the American Museum of the Moving Image

"John Naisbitt, Nana Naisbitt, and Douglas Philips's take on artists' responses to technology is insightful and precise. Not only have they pinpointed some of the most innovative artists working today, but their understanding of their work is completely original. A refreshing change of pace from most discussions about art."
--Dan Cameron, Senior Curator, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City

"This is an important and troubling book. Naisbitt and his co-authors have described in powerful detail the dark side of technology and its impact on our lives in the twenty-first century."
--Stephen Rhinesmith, author of A Manager's Guide to Globalization

Megatrends:

"In such turbulent times, we prize those among us who see clearly. John Naisbitt offers a dramatic, convincing view on the changes already under way. This is a book for everyone who wants a sense of the near future."
--Marilyn Ferguson, author of The Aquarian Conspiracy

Megatrends 2000:

"Thought-provoking . . . most persuasive . . . will carry us into the twenty-first century."
--Business Week

"A magnificent journey into the future for America and mankind."
--Jack Kemp

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