September 8, 1997
Boldly extending and deepening the pathways blazed by McLuhan, Paul Levinson provides us with a brilliant and exciting study of life with our old media, our new media, and the media still to come.
In his lucid and direct style, Paul Levinson, historian and philosopher of media and communications, gives us more than just a history of information technologies. The Soft Edge is a book about theories on the evolution of technology, the effects that human choice has on this (r)evolution, and what’s in store for us in the future. The edge is soft because it is the operating system of all social consequences of information technology, rather than the hard edge of strict technology. Today we know we cannot do without information, its subtle power and the convergence of key new technologies that has brought us to the Information Revolution we are now experiencing.
Paul Levinson’s engaging voice guides us on a tour that explains how communications media have been responsible for major developments in history and profound changes in our day-to-day lives. Levinson presents the intriguing argument that technology is becoming increasingly human, fulfilling our natural inclinations yet still subject to our rational direction. Information technologies are selected on the basis of how well they meet human needs. Why is email more like speech than print is? Why didn’t the arrival of television destroy the radio? These and many more thought-provoking questions are answered in The Soft Edge.
Paul Levinson is president and founder of Connected Education, an organization that has been offering graduate course on the Internet for more than a decade.
He is the author of Mind at Large (1998), Electronic Chronicles (1992) and Learning Cyberspace (1995). Levinson’s more popular essays on media theory have appeared in Wired magazine and the Village Voice. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems and teaches Communications at Hofstra University.