Thursday, May 28, 2020

Review: Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology

Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology by Derek C. Schuurman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ðe following review I wrote while annoyed by unruly fellow airplan passengers leavin þeir small children use noisy electronic toys, so I may have lacked long-suffering.

It is quite grave that Schuurman speaks as loosely as he does, never rising above the common sense, on a falsely so called technology — properly defined it is the study of technique, and that he does not do, doing little more than enumerating politically correct talking points in a neoevangelical varnish. His insufficiency in dealing with the substance of what he mentions lead to disinformation, for example when he writes about free software licensing — as the name implies, it is licensed, not given away, unless it is released to the public domain, which is actually quite rare — or, even worse, when he uses the propaganda term ‘intellectual property’ for the four disparate institutes of time limited, artificial, government-created & granted private monopolies of copy rights, letters patents, trade marks & trade secrets.

Ellul refused ðe word technology, sticking to more modest & precise technic, & for good reason: use of such high sounding, academic-like lingo, as incidentally foreign words for concepts already present in the vernacular, obscures how prosaic is ðe world around us — & its temptations.

Moreover, it has been a long time since I read such a badly thrown together book. When I wrote just above that he enumerates politically correct talking points, I was quite literal — the text (one can barely call it a book) lacks a flow of articulate ideas, so the reader feels thrown away hiþer & tiþer, wiþout knowing whence ðe auþor (one is tempted to call him a compiler instead, but even so there are more readable compilations) comes from or where he goes.

I would like to note it even lower, if not for his at least mentioning free software. Even so, I was let down for I came to this book because someone said it contained a defense of free software based on Dooyeweerd‘s categories; it does mention a very superficial justification of free software, and it does list Dooyeweerd‘s categories, but it never tries to articulate free software — nor oðer stuff he mentions — to Doyeeweerd’s categories. Even worse, ðe type of disinformed Christian who sees no issues wiþ using private, proprietary software will not probably stomach enough of Schuurman’s political correctness to even read enough to reach his short, unarticulated mention on ðe rationale for free software.

Anoðer letdown was ðat ðe blurb promised Schuurman drew on Ellul, but he has noþing of ðe Reformed trenchant demolition of idols Ellul has, even if Ellul is surprisingly an Universalist.

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