The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is: A History, a Philosophy, a Warning

21,000+ Reviews has the highest-rated customer service of any bookstore in the world
Product Details
$24.95  $23.20
Princeton University Press
Publish Date
5.7 X 8.7 X 1.0 inches | 0.9 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate
About the Author
Justin E. H. Smith is professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Paris. His books include Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason; The Philosopher: A History in Six Types; and Divine Machines: Leibniz and the Sciences of Life (all Princeton). He lives in Paris. Twitter @jehsmith
"In a book that meditates upon networks, webs, and connections, Smith's astounding range becomes something of a method for revealing the interconnectedness of everything between stars and modems."---Trevor Quirk, Bookforum
"Smith wants to show that the internet is not new, it is just a refinement in the gossamer of perceptual probing that our species has woven into the world's fabric to make near the distant. This arresting thesis is aided by the excellent writing. . . . The book is mostly enchantment."---Graham McAleer, Law & Liberty

An accessible philosophy of the internet, taking stock along the way of the faults and dangers resulting from the internet's invasion into people's lives. Whatever one's preconceptions about the internet, Smith makes a convincing case that the internet is something more than what one might have thought.

"-- "Choice"
"Smith has given readers a fresh interpretation of the history of technology . . . and a keen sense that we don't always know what the internet is doing to us."---Christine Rosen, Wall Street Journal
"Smith traces the early internet through the outlandish ideas of Renaissance inventors, ill-fated fraudsters and forgotten polymaths. It's a provocative reframing of the internet, a lament for what might have been, and a fresh way of thinking about what we're doing when we spend endless hours scrolling online. . . . Smith avoids offering easy solutions to the current crisis but suggests that we might be able to reach back into the past in order to reorient the internet towards a more meaningful end."---Joshua Gabert-Doyon, Financial Times
"This heady, unusual book sets out to view the internet--idealistic experiment, revolutionary communication tool, repository of amusing cat memes--through a longer conceptual history. Instead of the expected trips to research laboratories and US university campuses, there are detours via Buddhist thought and a 19th-century hoax involving a 'snail telegraph.' Idiosyncratic, fascinating stuff."---Rhiannon Davies and Matt Elton, BBC History Magazine
"The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is begins as a negative critique of online life. . . . But the book's second half progresses into deeper philosophical inquiries. . . . [Smith] ends by recognizing that the interface of the Internet, and the keyboard that gives him access to it, is less an external device than an extension of his questing mind."---Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker
"While Smith addresses what is wrong with the web--especially compelling is his exploration of how it affects our attention and how it encourages us to trade our sense of self for 'an algorithmically plottable profile'--he is also offering a big picture vision of this machine-assisted communication as an extension of all forms of communication in nature."---Cameron Woodhead and Fiona Capp, Sydney Morning Herald
"Smith wants to make us think differently about the internet and much of his book is spent explaining that many of the ideas behind its uses are, in fact, ancient, and he gives myriad fascinating examples."---Peter Neville-Hadley, South China Morning Post
"Smith examines the alarming problems of the Internet in its contemporary incarnation and insightfully explores some of the historical antecedents of this technology."---Harvey Freedenberg, Shelf Awareness
"[Smith] draws on centuries' worth of philosophy to examine the pervasive reach of the internet in this enlightening survey. . . . A capable guide to why what's online is there, and how it came to be."-- "Publishers Weekly"
"Thoughtful. . . . A worthy critique of a technology in need of rethinking--and human control that seeks to free and not enchain."-- "Kirkus Reviews"
"One of the pleasures of Smith's philosophical tour is to note how frequently the implementation of ideas and their consequences jump domains. . . . One of the great achievements of Smith's book is to permit us to honor [Ada Lovelace's] legacy, ambition, and achievement. . . while buttressing a healthy and necessary skepticism toward the claims of tech transcendence and the uniqueness of our moment."---Eric Banks, 4Columns
"Fascinating. . . .The book is an impressive and necessary reality check that situates the Internet in a historical context."---David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer