This is a series of chapters, consideration, bricolage, thoughts, ruminations, and essays within the broader book about memory in the age of internet. It’s at times a kind of meditations (and variations) on a theme, some precise thoughts on specific topics, almost a kind of autofiction, and many many referential moments. It’s the kind of book that I often myself agreeing with, but also at times asking myself, is this good? Is this anything? Over all I would say what this book sets out to do is chart the parameters of the question: how has humanity and human capacity for knowledge, memory, and existence (of self? of mind?) changed, adapted to, been manipulated by the increasingly rapid development of the internet as a technology, as a medium, as a tool, and as a new mode of existence. Renouard is about my age, so our frames of reference for both the space of time being narrated here and for the seminal moments in our lives line up pretty well. He is in university dealing with the changes in technology far out-pacing the morals and ethics of research and writing, and his own sense of youth and morality working at about the same time my would have been. So a lot of our observations and questions are similar, but too often his feel shallowly explored.
There’s a lot of insight here, but almost no rigor. This is NOT Neil Postman (and that’s both good and bad). So while there’s no false sense of solving this problem (good! — you can’t solve an unsolvable problem, if this is one) there’s no really charting out the full territory or anything approaching. When it comes down to it, a lot of the book is: here’s a thing that changed really quickly, right? So I wanted more exploration, and while that lack did make me begin to think more about things, I wanted this book to do a little more of that lifting.