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Anti-technology quote of the day- jonathan franzen

January 30, 2012

Author Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections, Freedom) does not appear to have many positive things to say about technology, in fact, he’s something of a Luddite.

In a recent talk given at the Hay Festival in Columbia, Franzen argues that e-books are bad for both the reader and the writer, explaining how hard it is to concentrate as a writer with all the technology around you and how the lack of a physical object with e-books, changes the relationship the reader has with the content.

It’s a theme that Franzen has covered in his work and was expressed by his character Walter Beglund in the 2010 novel Freedom.

“‘This fragmentation. Because it’s the same problem everywhere. It’s like the internet, or cable TV – there’s never any centre, there’s no communal agreement, there’s just a trillion bits of distracting noise … All the real things, the authentic things, the honest things, are dying off.'”

It might be easy to take issue with Walter’s perspective, because in reality the “centers” are almost bigger than ever; this week’s Superbowl audience will be huge and there are certainly centers around other appointment television programs, movies and of course, news stories.

What’s true is that our behaviors and attention are changing- as way of example, it looks like this year could be the first “two screen” Superbowl with brands like Chevy trying to deepen the engagement of their television advertising, by providing an additional communication experience for tablets and encouraging users to “Don’t just watch, play along with the Superbowl.”

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