‘Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art’ is a historical, technical, and at times philosophical exploration into the Internet and how it functions in our daily lives. Written by Virginia Heffernan and published by Simon and Schuster, the book covers a wide range of technological advancements such as YouTube, the iPod, and the Kindle.
I’ll be honest: this was a bit too technical for me. I have absolutely no knowledge about how computers or iPhones work, and when she discusses the electronic side of things, I got completely lost. It’s not that I don’t want to understand how MP3 works, but my brain fundamentally cannot understand that sort of thing. So if you’re like that, this probably isn’t the book for you.
However, that isn’t to say that there aren’t interesting humanitarian and philosophical points. My favourite parts of the book included a fascinating discussion about ebooks and the process of reading, and what is actually considered reading. I also greatly enjoyed the philosophical chapter at the end, which goes into Heffernan’s personal relationship with technology (including her individual mourning of the landline) and her personal philosophical views. I wish she had focused a bit more on this throughout the book, because it really was enlightening. This too, however, is a bit technical – if you’re not used to (or interested in) Walter Benjamin or Theodor Adorno, this also might not be the book for you.
All in all, I think that the right reader will find this book absolutely fascinating. I, unfortunately, was just not the right reader.
‘Magic and Loss’ will be published on the 7th June 2016.