Home / Book Reviews / Review: The Digitally Divided Self by Ivo Quartiroli

Review: The Digitally Divided Self by Ivo Quartiroli

This book begins with blurbs from some very heavy hitters, and some of my favorite writers, on the subject of new media – writers like Douglas Rushkoff and Erik Davis.  Erik Davis, in particular, writes on the more-esoteric take on the rise of technology, in books like Techgnosis.  It could help to have some familiarity with esoteric spirituality before approaching this book.  It would also help to keep a very open mind. The basic premise is that by having our heads lodged in the materialist world of the web and the tech we use to navigate the web, we are becoming increasingly led astray from true human and spiritual connection. If you’re an atheist, you might stop right there – but you shouldn’t. Because the implications of our attachment to the web is a vital subject, even if you’re not particularly spiritual.

If people are being honest, they’ll admit just how dependent on the web they’ve become.  People may joke about being Facebook addicts or, in the old days, the Crackberry, but it’s an important issue. I speak from experience.  There is something dangerously pleasant about that red “like” or new message on Facebook.  It has the slight feeling of accomplishment – it really does hit the pleasure center of the brain in a particular way.  So to think that the web doesn’t distract us from more important things (never mind spiritual fulfillment) would be totally inaccurate.

The trouble with The Digitally Divided Self – and other books along these lines – is that its advocacy goes almost totally in the other direction.  Instead of advocating moderation, it advocates a divorce from technology.  That doesn’t seem entirely like the answer. Though you can waste an inordinate amount of time on Facebook, it is has also helped facilitate political uprisings and the spread of information. The book makes the argument that 20 years after the web, we don’t yet live in a Democratic paradise. Maybe if we did away with all technology then people would be more focused on issues that matter, but that is doubtful. It’s more likely that progress would be even slower.

In a strange way, the book seems to disprove its own premise. On the one hand, it says that technology is steering us away from real human interaction (which it is), but on the other, it limits the potential of people as well:

“Like a fascinating psychedelic vision, the digital realm can amaze us forever, but basically it goes no further than the mental level which originally created the technology.”

If humans are stuck at one “mental level” then we’re doomed no matter what we do.  That’s not the message he’s trying to send in the book – he’s actually saying the opposite: the human mind is awesome and it’s being stifled by the web. There’s an argument to be made that technology is as organic as the human mind. If the human mind has limitless capability, then so should the inventions made by that mind.

Regarding spiritual connection, the book’s more effective.  He wonders if it’s possible to meditate when you’re being inundated with information. If a way to connect to the soul (or God, or just inner peace for the atheist) is to shut out all information, then the web is precisely designed to accomplish the opposite.   At the same time, there are those who say that the connected consciousness of the web is very much the technological equivalent of the connected consciousness described in Eastern traditions. It might even be priming us to get used to the idea.  Maybe this is the tech-addict in me talking, but I’d much rather see where technology is taking us then cut ourselves off from this powerful tool. The answer is to take some time to meditate – not to divorce yourself from the machine.

I’m not a singularity proponent myself – the idea that technology will reach such a superhuman capacity that we’ll become superhuman in the process.  It is a kind of technology fundamentalism. There is no doubt that technology can be counterproductive and that real human contact is vitally important. The world of zombies who always have their faces in a smartphone is by no means progress. But the web is no different than any drug.  Hard drugs have absolutely destroyed people. But to not also recognize that drugs have been instrumental in the creation of a lot of great works of art (see: The Beatles) or other intellectual – and spiritual – discoveries is really only telling half the story. The web is no different: massively useful with the potential to also be destructive.

This is a lot to say about the book’s content without reporting on the book itself. It certainly sparked some serious internal discussion on this issue, which makes the book very valuable.  The book is incredibly well-written, erudite, and thought-provoking, I just don’t entirely agree with its thesis. But these are issues that need to be discussed as tech becomes more and more a central part of our lives, so the book deserves to be read, even if you disagree with the premise.


Author’s Site - Indranet.org (much to read here)


Barnes & Noble

  • http://writingcycle.wordpress.com Catana

    From what you’ve said about it, I don’t see why anyone with any sense would bother to read it, much less that it “deserves” to be read. It’s nothing but the same old neo-luddite, new age nonsense, dressed up for a new technological generation. There are whole shelves of books along the same lines, and they had just as much practical impact as this one will have.

    • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/henry-baum/ Henry Baum

      Well, because it’s well done. There are some seriously flaky New Age books out there, and this is at least well-argued and comprehensive. Here’s his bio, he’s not a snake-oil salesman:

      Ivo Quartiroli has been a software programmer, publisher of Italian technology and spirituality books, and computer science book author. Complementing his professional accomplishments in information processing, his interest in consciousness processing has led him to spiritual explorations. He shares his perspective on the intersection of media studies, psychology and spirituality on his blog at http://www.indranet.org and writes for Italian magazines about technology and society. He sits on the Italian Club of Budapest’s science committee.

  • drstupid

    On ninty-something, Ivo published Kevin Kelly and some other cyber bibles, for the first time, in Italy. It was very Mondo 2000 but, no way, Ivo is a serious and indipendent guy.

clomid twins 50mg wellbutrin hcl 75 mg cialis generic fast lasix 40 mg online levitra 20 mg duration zovirax 400 mg buy cialis pill genuine 5mg cialis buy doxycycline bangkok celebrex mims online cialis 2.5 mg buy buy msd propecia cialis 20 mg notice dog prednisone online buy canadian synthroid propecia online us buy viagra 2 days propranolol 10 mg pl roche xenical 120 mg generic levitra sale viagra purchase online lisinopril 10 mg price buy levitra.ca buying cialis 5mg 50 mg prednisone withdrawal levitra 10 mg cijena propranolol 10 mg tabletas generic viagra use kamagra online mastercard viagra 100mg australia cialis 5mg fta 14 levitra 20mg longevity strattera 100 mg buy pakistan buy viagra cialis 5mg discount canadian dapoxetine online strattera 80 mgs costo purchase glucophage online hydrochlorothiazide 12.5 mg walmart warning generic cialis buy esomeprazole nexium viagra online buying 100mg viagra fails cheapest cialis Washington cialis 20mg pakistan viagra generically about zoloft 50mg clomid 50 mg cheapest levitra 100 drugs lasix generic cialis 5 mg comprar buy propecia women buy cialis dubai cialis 5 mg duracion augmentin duo 625mg zoloft generic problems kamagra 100mg brausetabletten nolvadex 40mg tablets levitra online orders cialis 2 x 5mg cialis 2.5 mg levitra 20mg canadian im phenergan 12.5mg buy kamagra europe wellbutrin generic problems 2012 erythromycin ethylsuccinate 250mg buy 1000 kamagra cialis online questions levitra 10 mg online buy propecia turkey cialis generic means cialis 20 or 40mg cialis 80 mg images viagra buy karachi buy viagra safe buy 36 hour cialis cheapest pharmacy viagra viagra da 50 mg kamagra 100mg brausetabs doxycycline mono generic nolvadex tabs cheap 250mg viagra much viagra online legitimate cialis online 50 mg clomid success cialis pills 5mg cialis free online diflucan pill buy cheapest viagra line diflucan 150 mg compresse generic cialis authentic cheap kamagra canada cialis generico 24 ore 200 generic cialis softtabs kamagra cheap online misoprostol cytotec buy lasix tbl 20mg valtrex generic mylan forum cheapest cialis lexapro escitalopram 20mg cheapest authentic cialis cialis 2.5 mg appearance zithromax buy australia generic wellbutrin cheap augmentin es generic testimonials generic cialis buy levitra women amoxil bd generico generic viagra canada metformin 500 mg prospect diflucan 150 mg reviews zithromax 600 mg susp viagra generic legitimate augmentin 500mg dosage 1 000 mg zithromax chlamydia discount levitra 20 mg buy kamagra ue is 25mg viagra order generic clomid levitra da 5 mg cialis buy generic everyday generic cialis nexium 20 mg uputstvo cheap zovirax prescription 40 mg nexium dosage order cipro california cialis 800mg overdose nexium 20mg preis 1000 mg of tetracycline cialis generic safe pastile cialis 20mg nexium dosierung 40 mg 100mg clomid worked amoxil susp 500 mg zovirax 800 mg tablet strattera 80 mg generic generic 50mg cialis zovirax online canada 1000 mg of zithromax cialis generic capsules cialis 50 mg fiyat cipro 750 mg chymidia ordercialis and viagra xenical 15 mg cialis cincinnati buy valtrex 200mg generic valtrex brands 20 mg levitra reviews phenergan dosage 50 mg 40 mg of lasix prednisone 20 mg bronchitis viagra 100mg indien bactrim adultes 400mg viagra order cialis doxycycline 200mg acne cialis generic 40 mg. indications zoloft 50 mg buying cialis dubai vipps viagra online difference cialis 5mg 50 mg doxycycline blepharitis zovirax 40mg doxycycline 100 mg tablets preisvergleich cialis 5mg viagra 0.1 mg buy xenical oral edmonton viagra buy generico do clomid buy cialis 18045 makers generic metformin augmentin syrup 457mg diflucan 150 mg buy generic viagra perth cialis costo 5 mg buy augmentin 625 xenical 120 mg presentation 80 mg viagra cipro 500mg bid erythromycin buy canada cialis 5 mg ulotka viagra generic herbal wholesale generic viagra generic lexapro mexico viagra 25 mg dauer generic cialis legitimate genrx doxycycline 100mg viagra generico 50 viagra generic singapore celebrex 200 mg controindicazioni kamagra cheap price zithromax 500mg australia prednisone 10 mg administration ireland viagra online buy levitra 20 mg viagra y genericos cialis dubai online nexium generics cialis online 2.5mg celebrex medication 200 mg lasix dosage generic canine 100 mg prednisone want buy viagra buy cheap zithromax generics levitra online propecia buy 120 mg viagra viagra directions 100 mg viagra online risks viagra 100 mg uso lasix 20 mg precio buy cialis usa generica cialis 40mg wellbutrin vs generics cialis mg5 twins 50 mg clomid cialis online 1.00 apo propranolol 80 mg wellbutrin anxiety disorder nolvadex 25mg testosterone buy lexapro overnight viagra online boots take 200 mg viagra cipro 500 mg siprofloksasin nexium 20mg uses 1000 mg augmentin dosage levitra 40 mg generic orlistat cheap xenical bactrim generic version cheapest viagra jelly norethisterone 5mg clomid levitra 20mg 12 st viagra 600 mg online zovirax canada valtrex order online cialis generic cialis mail order celebrex doxycycline 100mg reactions zoloft 100mg tablet lisinopril 10mg lupin viagra generic canada cialis 2.5 online nexium cheaper lasix da 500 mg clomid 100 mg capsules viagra online clinic buy indian cialis online pharmacy dapoxetine lexapro 10mg. buy viagra glasgow cheap legal propecia clomid 50 mg steroid cialis 10 mg tr buy erythromycin 500mg zoloft 50 mg precio 100 mg of synthroid cialis online preise generic for lexapro 2011 prednisone 20 mg color cialis 40mg day cialis generico 5mg buying diflucan online cialis 5 mg 36 taking 300 mg viagra cialis 5mg australia hydrochlorothiazide 12.5mg price female cialis online buy 40 mg lisinopril cialis kac mg online pfizer viagra order levitra overnight online viagra real propranolol hydrochloride 40mg buy clomid international xenical 120 mg valor online 5 mg levitra viagra 110mg paypal buying real nolvadex diflucan 150 mg uti cheapest kamagra pills cipro xr generic asda generic viagra online viagra review 100 mg viagra diflucan oral 150 mg cialis 2.5 mg sverige apcalis generic viagra phenergan generic promethazine lisinopril 40 mg mg 100mg clomid calculator 20 mg cialis reviews cialis online lily sintofarm propranolol 10 mg prednisone winthrop 20 mg strattera 18 mg lexapro 10 mg ahumada cialis 40 mg doses lexapro 10 mg weight 6 day prednisone order nexium 60mg lasix 200 mg iv pastillas celebrex 100 mg buy viagra vgr prednisone 20 mg arrow viagra tesco 2011 buy levitra 100 mg vardenafil order viagra mail bactrim suspension 800 mg 5 mg of cialis buy clomid serm viagra strongest mg buy viagra condom generic lexapro name valtrex generic dosage order diflucan one lasix 25 mg 30 cpr cialis online ohio lasix generic name dapoxetine 60 mg canada augmentin bis 400 mg propranolol hci 10mg prednisone uk buy lisinopril 40 mg teva pure viagra online buy clomid emedzone cheapests priced cialis cialis online online doxycycline 100mg hond zoloft 50 mg erfahrungsberichte cipro 400mg ev cipro 500mg generic order cheap cialis legit viagra online viagra qtas mg cialis 5 mg esperienze 20mg lexapro diahoerra prospect valtrex 500mg order viagra cod buy diflucan overnight levitra 20 mg facts lisinopril 10mg coupon lexapro tab 10mg cialis 5 mg online walgreen cialis 5 mg viagra 4cpr 100mg cialis 20mg siparis generic wellbutrin okay harga viagra 100mg herbal 600mg viagra buy cheap phenergan buy viagra bpay cialis overnight generic buy cheap nexium buy prednisone pills 150 mg prednisone 8 days take 50 mg clomid glucophage 500 mg tabletas prednisone 10mg daily lisinopril stada 10mg buy doxycycline internet doxycycline tablets 500mg clomid 100 online buy levitra australia generic wellbutrin works phenergan 25mg tabs celebrex 100 mgs viagra 50mg reviews generic buspar cost diflucan oral 200mg buy cytotec uae good viagra online comprar levitra generico 3000 mg valtrex prednisone generic price lisinopril order online online viagra support generics for celebrex noperten lisinopril 10 mg viagra online zoll viagra hk buy medicijn nexium 40mg kamagra 100mg tablets cipro 30mg 500mg metformin buy tetracycline 500 mg viagra 100mg safe generic zoloft manufacturers generic viagra chennai hydrochlorothiazide 25 mg pharmacokinetics trouble viagra online price prednisone 5 mg cheapest viagra generic celebrex 200 mg contraindicaciones mg viagra 325lb 20mg of levitra canadian viagra 150 mg 5 mg cialis dosage viagra 150mg cheap buy cialis delhi wellbutrin 2 150 mg order propecia pills valtrex generic reviews clomid 50 mg pregnant metformin 500 mg dosage metformin axcount 1000mg take 40mg levitra levitra 20mg france lasix 25 mg cpr pastillas metformin 850 mg buying viagra atlanta diflucan 60 mg buy viagra ranbaxy order cialis here ttc clomid 50mg nexium 40mg generico zithromax 500mg std xenical 120mg capsules kamagra online safe wellbutrin sr cheapest glucophage 500 mg opis cialis generico italia nexium 20mg uk viagra online affidabile wellbutrin cyclothymic disorder lexapro generic effective augmentin duo 125 mg viagra 100mg prices 60 mg prednisone taper cialis online contrassegno tijuana viagra online cialis 2.5mg review strattera purchase 100mg propecia generic results cialis 5mg erythromycin purchase online viagra comparison online clomid 25mg men online buy viagra 100mg doxycycline comprar cialis 10mg 10 mg lexapro enough 50 mg doxycycline acne doxycycline 100mg indication wellbutrin 75 mg xl cipro 500mg india buying viagra singles dapoxetine online kaufen order cheap diflucan nexium 10 mg kaina cialis 20mg slovenia describe lisinopril 10 mg zovirax tablets buy priligy online buy wiki cialis 20 mg clomid 150mg follicles compare cheapest cialis buy viagra online 350 diflucan 50mg used cialis 800 mg testimonial viagra generico precio erythromycin stearate 250 mg cialis 5mg aarp thuoc propranolol 10mg viagra 50 mg tehlike novo prednisone 50 mg cytotec misoprostol online generic xenical bestellen lexapro 20 to 30 mg diflucan 150 mg dosierung order cialis me lexapro dosage 200 mg levitra generico chile phenergan 12.5mg xenical buying buy zithromax online viagra de 500mg lexapro 40 mg dose cialis 5mg generic synthroid 75mg cialis 5mg prezzo cheap levitra a buy cialis powder genuine cialis cheap there generic synthroid buy synthroid levothyroxine superovulation 25mg clomid cheap viagra guaranteed levitra 5mg online generic valtrex buy levitra 20 mg indicazioni spierx viagra online 500 mg tetracycline dosage online viagra kauf cialis 25 mg preis kamagra australia buy buy lisinopril 2.5 cytotec 200 mg vidal valtrex caplets 500mg celebrex capsulas 200mg lexapro side generic fgr 100 viagra mg