Hamlet’s Blackberry is now a book. From the promotional materials:

A crisp, passionately argued polemic that challenges the sacred dogma of the digital age-the more we connect through technology, the happier we are-and offers a new, practical philosophy for life in a world of screens.

Now when was the last time you read a “crisp, passionately argued polemic” about technology? I bet it’s been at least five or ten minutes, eh?

(Speaking of which, I’d like to write a crisp, passionately-argued polemic in favor of using the dash, i.e. “passionately-argued.” There, that’s done.)

Still more about the book:

At a time when everyone, from big businesses to ordinary individuals, is trying to make sense of their connected lives, Hamlet’s Blackberry presents a bold new paradigm for understanding the devices that now demand so much of our time and attention. Written in a lively, engaging style, Hamlet’s BlackBerry shows how our computers and mobile devices are changing the way we think, feel, and relate to others. While these technologies are tremendously helpful, they are also becoming our greatest burden, making it harder for us to focus and think clearly, do our best work and achieve the depth and fulfillment we crave.

Hamlet’s BlackBerry argues that we’ve surrendered too much of our lives to our screens, by following a philosophy the author calls Digital Maximalism. He offers an alternative approach that any individual or organization can use to manage their connectedness more wisely. Drawing on the ideas of some of the most brilliant thinkers in the history of human connectedness, from Socrates to Shakespeare and Ben Franklin to Marshall McLuhan, this new philosophy proceeds from the simple notion that connectedness serves us best when it’s offset by its opposite, disconnectedness. There are ways to strike a healthy balance between the two, and Hamlet’s BlackBerry shows how, using concrete examples from everyday life.

The scholar in me wants to nitpick a few details, like using the word “philosophy” to describe the way we waste time in front of the TV and internet and blackberry. It’s not like all us digital folk read the screen-media equivalent of Phänomenologie des Geistes and are now trying to live out its principles. And when was the last time you read a philosophical text purportedly written “in a lively, engaging style”? Still, it strikes me that this might be exactly the kind of book to put in the hands of freshmen in a class on argumentation–not just as an example of an argument, but as something sure to provoke a few arguments itself. In my experience, when you start telling a bunch of eighteen-year-olds that their technology may not be leading to a cornucopia of positive results, they get real testy real fast. What more could you ask for from a classroom teacher’s point of view?

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