A book by Albert Borgmann< read all 1 reviews
What is Borgmann's ultimate objective? In his own words, "we need both a theory and an ethics of information -- a theory to illuminate the structure of information and an ethics to get the moral of its development." To achieve this objective, he creates a frame of reference within which to understand the evolution of "information" from primeval times when it served to disclose distant reality until now when it frequently seems to have a reality wholly apart from the actual world.
The importance of Holding On to Reality is perhaps most evident in its Conclusion when Borgmann invites his reader to reflect upon "The Lightness of Being" and "Adjusting the Balance" while hiking with him across his beloved Montana. Obviously, Borgmann struggles to hold on to the reality of his own world. With passion as well as eloquence and erudition, he inspires his readers to do so with theirs.
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For Borgmann, information is defined as much by the mind and cultural context of the people who behold it as by the physical traces (notches on a bone, voltages on a wire) that embody it. Fleshing out that notion, he tracks the changing nature of information across the face of history--from the natural signs that mattered most to prehistoric people to the alphabets and maps that shaped ancient and medieval culture to the mechanically logical forms of information that began to emerge in modern times.
Borgmann's observations suffer somewhat when he turns his sights on present-day information technologies and the cultural changes they have wrought. His cultural conservatism shows most strongly here and, at times, comes out sounding more cranky than critical. But on the whole, his insights are supple and thought-provoking. If we are ever going to ...