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Whether or not readers are familiar with the concept of presentism-the theory that society is more focused on the immediacy of the moment in front of them (actually more specifically on the moment that just passed) than the moment before or, perhaps more importantly, the future-they've certainly felt the increasing pressure of keeping up with various methods of communication, be it texting, Web surfing, live interactions, or a litany of other media for staying "connected." Using Alvin Toffler's concept of "future shock" as a jumping-off point, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff (Cyberia; Get Back in the Box; Media Virus; etc.) deftly weaves in a number of disparate concepts (the Home Shopping Network, zombies, Kurzweil's Law of Accelerating Returns, Internet mashups, hipsters' approximation of historical ephemera as irony, etc.) to examine the challenge of keeping up with technological advances as well as their ensuing impact on culture and human relations in a world that's always "on." By highlighting five areas (the rise of moronic reality TV; our need to be omnipresent; the need to compress time in order to achieve our goals; the compulsion to connect unrelated concepts in an effort to make better sense of them; and a gnawing sense of one's obsolescence), Rushkoff gives readers a healthy dose of perspective, insight, and critical analysis that's sure to get minds spinning and tongues wagging. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Noted media theorist Rushkoff (NYU and The New School) presents this book as the Future Shock of today. In that regard, the author sets for the work a rather high bar that is not necessarily achieved. Although Present Shock does not fall into Alvin Toffler's trap of taking current trends to their logical extreme in predicting the future, it is also much more a summary of the observations of so many others than a seeming revelation that speaks to the decade. That said, the book, like the source it seeks to emulate, is full of interesting, thought-provoking observations about and commentary on the big picture of the present. Rushkoff puts forward five crises of cognition that people face today: the end of narrative structures, the loss of a sense of time, the loss of a sense of space, the fracturing of communication without these contexts, and apocalyptic beliefs that can grow out of such fractures. The author presents each thread in a clean journalistic style that looks at current events in business and politics in sometimes familiar and sometimes novel ways, making the information easy to digest. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels. P. L. Kantor formerly, Southern Vermont College
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Living in a world of perpetually updated Internet news bulletins and cell phones primed for the latest text messages from friends and family, many of us feel pressured to keep up with all the latest gossip and information trends. Our past and future have become less important than staying current with whatever is happening now, an attitude toward time that philosophers call presentism. Using Future Shock, Alvin Toffler's classic study of runaway technological growth, as a jumping-off place, prolific author and media expert Rushkoff cites presentism as one of the dominant fixations of our era. With abundant fodder from reality-TV shows, Twitter, blogs, and the Home Shopping Network, the information glut, Rushkoff points out, includes a mash-up of past, present, and future references that's both confusing and misleading. Rushkoff highlights several areas of social dis-ease, including our obsessive need to be everywhere and do everything at once, and a curious predilection for apocalyptic entertainment. A sobering wake-up call to collectively reexamine our relationship with time before we're blindsided by an unwelcome future.--Hays, Carl Copyright 2010 Booklist