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Fairly tedious. The book springs from a good and wise insight, that it is worthy to resist out relentless capitalist economy that swallows up all our time and energy. But there is no evidence that she has much to add to that basic insight. She builds the chapters around a metaphor or two and a bricolage of other authors' work... Every page screams "I am from San Francisco" -- and I say this as a staunchly liberal Californian myself. It's annoying. She's a 30yo conceptual artist who has somehow boondoggled a job at Stanford. Good for her, but you can afford to skip this one.
Bought this book, read a few chapters. In the 1st chapter the author keeps talking about some tree. Trying to come up with a novelist allegory I guess, but I got enough of that very quickly, after all I was trying to gain insight into "resisting the attention economy". The following chapters that I read consisted of just summaries of what some notable people had achieved in past, plus stories about herself. I couldn't continue beyond somewhere in chapter 3 and skimming through the rest of the book revealed a similar style. I didn't find any original thinking in the chapters that I read and was left with a feeling that the author didn't really have anything to say.
A few sparks of insight, but the vast majority of this book is a slog through random meandering academic tedium that doubles-back on itself several times just because it can. The singular insight from the book can simply be summarized as: take the time for yourself to notice the things around you and you will find new unexpected perspectives and awareness for yourself in your community and the world. A simple foundation course in guided meditation will help you reach the same conclusion and will be much more deeply personal for you than reading and attempting to internalize this mess of a book.
I bought this book after a flood of good reviews, and because I have an academic interest in the subject of mediated social spaces/non-mediated social spaces.
This book comes off as 1-part self-help, 1-part art history, and 1-part philosophy of technology. Odell talks a lot about how social media effects our lives, offers a handful of suggestions to remedy this -- but spends most of the book rambling on about various artistic and social movements, of which she says little new or original. Like many academics she confuses erudition with communication -- and in her attempt to prove to her reader that she is indeed educated, she looses them with vaguely personal and ultimately non-meaningful stories from her personal life. I kept on reading because I wanted to know what the point was to be made by the book, and after finishing it today I am convinced that the only message of this book is use technology with caution -- something said by many for centuries now-- Odell just glams it up and repackages it in the form of social media.
If you have a high-school reading level, and are starting from scratch with contemporary philosophy/aesthetics then this is the book for you! If you have read a book on contemporary philosophy from the last 70 years -- then you can skip this very shallow and ultimately meaningless book (I wish I had). Try literally anything by Noam Chomsky or Mark Crispin Miller and you will be better off for it.
2-stars instead of 1 because her writing is quite good -- 1 star for everything else.
Some interesting insights that may be of benefit to the individual seeking a "digital detox" but in order to"do nothing" with any kind of depth Jenny Odell needs to practice meditation techniques and recommend them it to her audience.. Otherwise the vagaries of emotional and mental noise are just too overpowering for most people including herself.. She mentions Merton, Cage and Thoreau, etc., but she would have been better off considering Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist masters of doing nothing. Without them the book is rather shallow and immature