Digital Detachment : How Computer Culture Undermines Democracy book cover
1st Edition

Digital Detachment
How Computer Culture Undermines Democracy

ISBN 9781138186866
Published February 9, 2016 by Routledge
140 Pages

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Book Description

The digital revolution is changing the world in ecologically unsustainable ways: (1) it increases the economic and political power of the elites controlling and interpreting the data; (2) it is based on the deep assumptions of market liberalism that do not recognize environmental limits; (3) it undermines face-to-face and context-specific forms of knowledge; (4) it undermines awareness of the metaphorical nature of language; (5) its promoters are driven by the myth of progress and thus ignore important cultural traditions of the cultural commons that are being lost; and (6) it both by-passes the democratic process  and colonizes other cultures. This book provides an in-depth examination of these phenomena and connects them to questions of educational reform in the US and beyond.

Table of Contents

1. Computer Globalization  2. The Cult of Data  3. Misconceptions About Language  4. Digital Colonization  5. The Digital Revolution in Muslim Cultures 6. A Different Kind of Connectivity  7. Localism, the Revitalization of the Cultural Commons, and Face to Face Democracy

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Chet Bowers is a semi-retired university professor who has written 23 books that examine the linguistic/cultural roots of the ecological crisis––and their implications for reforming universities and public schools. He has been an invited speaker at 40 foreign and 42 American universities.


"Honestly, I am not sure if the importance of Chet Bowers' new book on the Digital Revolution can be overestimated. I say this for two reasons. First, Chet Bowers is one of the very few original thinkers we have around; his approach and understanding is quite unlike what you can read elsewhere. Second, our infatuation with progress and in particular computer technology and the internet has totally blinded us against the threat this wholesale digital revolution is posing for our democracy and indeed our very survival. Chet Bowers is eloquently providing the much needed analysis to understand what is really going on."

-- Rolf Jucker, Director of SILVIVA, Swiss Foundation for Experiential Environmental Education


"In the era of systems, beyond the era of tools, we are becoming merely subsystems, as Ivan Illich timely warned. This very pertinent book brings at a deeper level Chet Bowers' critical analysis of the digital age and its real and symbolic impact on education and our daily lives. It is an urgent call for austerity in the use of tools like the internet, in order to protect personal relatedness, conviviality, local cultural contexts, and even Mother Earth. This is not another NeoLuddite manifesto but a pertinent call to reclaim common sense."

-- Gustavo Esteva, Activist, Oaxaca, Mexico


"Few societies have demonstrated either much foresight or skill when confronted with new and potentially disruptive technologies. Who would have imagined for example, the impact of computers on commerce, manufacturing, finance, mail delivery, education, journalism, entertainment, surveillance, or simple patterns of human interaction, just thirty years ago? Chet Bowers has been attempting to direct our attention to the consequences of the digitalization of the world for much of this time. The issues he raises in this volume deserve widespread discussion as humanity attempts to learn how to live well and humanely with what may well be the most powerful tools ever invented by our species."

-- Gregory Smith, Lewis and Clark College and Co-editor of Place-Based Education in the Global Age: Local Diversity


"Bowers has for decades been a brilliant writer on how the ecological crisis permeates education and our western society. In this important book on the digital revolution, he shows clearly what the internet still cannot do in terms of face to face democracy and the pivotal need to revitalize the world's cultural commons. It helps us see what lacks in our ever more complicated world of digits and what is needed to lay the groundwork for reconnecting to the diversity of ecological, cultural, and moral lives that give sustenance to the meaning of glocal sustainability and solidarity."

 -- Per Ingvar Haukeland, Director of Centre for Nature and Culture-Based Innovation, Telemark Research Institute


"In contrast to such popular educational slogans as 'mobile learning' and 'Internet democracy,' this book not only provides a critical analysis of how the digital revolution is bypassing the democratic process, but also argues that the road to a sustainable future requires revitalizing traditions of wisdom and the cultural commons that are passed forward through face to face and mentoring relationships. This book challenges the current efforts to reduce human experience to what can be digitized and stored in the cloud."

-- Chun Ping Wang, Dean of Center for Teacher Education & Careers Service, National Taipei University of Education