Devices of the Soul: Battling for Our Selves in the Age of Machines

Steve Talbott

Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly and Assoc., 2007, 300 pages, hardcover.

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To visit the publisher's web page for this book, click here. You can peruse some of the text in each chapter and subsection of the book by clicking under "Browse within this book" on that webpage. And in the Nature Institute’s In Context newsletter, you can read the book’s introduction.

cover of Devices of the Soul's editors picked this book for their "Top Ten" list of books in the Computers and Internet category for 2007. Here are some comments from others:

“Nothing is as rare or sorely needed in our tech-enchanted culture right now as intelligent criticism of technology, and Steve Talbott is exactly the critic we've been waiting for: trenchant, sophisticated, and completely original. Devices of the Soul is an urgent and important book.”

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Botany of Desire.

“One of the most original and provocative writers of our time, Steve Talbott offers a rich assortment of insightful reflections on the nature of our humanity, challenging our own thinking and conventional wisdom about advances in technology.”

Dr. Dorothy E. Denning, Department of Defense Analysis, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California.

“Steve Talbott is a rare voice of clarity, humanity, and passion in a world enthralled by machines and calculation. His new book, Devices of the Soul, lays out a frightening and at the same time inspiring analysis of what computers and computer-like thinking are doing to us, our children, and the future of our planet. Talbott is no Luddite. He fully understands and appreciates the stunning power of technology for both good and evil. His cool and precise skewering of the fuzzy thinking and mindless enthusiasm of the technology true believers is tempered by his modesty, the elegance of his writing, and his abiding love for the world of nature and our capacity for communion with it.”

Edward Miller, Former editor, Harvard Education Letter, and Founding Partner, Alliance for Childhood.

“Are you experiencing growing unease as computational metaphors have seized our discourse? Steve Talbott offers immediate relief. You are not losing your mind! Chapter after chapter, he shows how to draw on the powers of technology without losing your soul or breaking your heart.”

Dr. Peter Denning, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at the Naval Postgraduate School and formerly president of the Association for Computing Machinery.

“Steve Talbott is a rare writer whose words can alter one's entire perception of the world. He is our most original and perceptive defender of the wholeness of life against the onslaught of mechanism. Devices of the Soul is written with Talbott's typical grace and clarity. It displays a quality hardly found anymore in our high tech culture - wisdom.”

Lowell Monke, Associate Professor of Education, Wittenberg University, and co-author of Breaking Down the Digital Walls: Learning to Teach in a Post-Modem World.

“Those who care about the healthy and wholesome lives of children can gain much from Steve Talbott's wisdom. He examines the need to help children spend more time touching nature and real life and less touching keyboards. He eloquently questions the assumption that speeding up learning is a good thing. Is, after all, a sped-up life a well-lived life? Most importantly, he reminds all of us that technology is just one part of life and ought not to overshadow the life of self and soul.”

Joan Almon, Coordinator, Alliance for Childhood.
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