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: 3 of 5 stars

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

It is quite grave that Schuurman speaks as looſely as he does, never riſiŋ above the common ſenſe, on a falſely so called teχnology — properly defined it is the ſtudy of teχnique, and that he does not do, doing little more than enumeratiŋ politically correct talking points in a neoevangelical varnish. His inſufficiency in dealiŋ with the ſubſtance of what he mentions lead to diſinformation, for example when he writes about free ſoftware licenſiŋ — 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 usiŋ 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 noþiŋ of ðe Reformed trenchant demolition of idols Ellul had, even if Ellul ſurpriſingly was an Univerſalist.

A friend aſked quite appropriately why ðen four ſtars. I feel ðis title could provoke a better converſation deſpite its flaws.

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