2009, Books, Journalism, Non-Fiction, Psychology, Society

The Peep Diaries (2009) by Hal Niedzviecki

This book is a relatively interesting and amusing book about how modern technology and modern culture have created a brave new world that we don’t really understand how to navigate – and which could have all sorts of unintended consequences for us. However, the book suffers from a number of problems which make it not among the best books to examine this particular moment in human history (and there are a lot of these books).

First, Niedzviecki tries to give all the different things he covers one name: Peep. Obviously that didn’t stick. And the problem is that he comes off as one of those undergrads who thinks they know everything, diagnosing all our problems under his rubric. Had he been successful, and other people had taken up his concept, maybe this wouldn’t have bugged me so much. But given that not a single other soul calls this stuff “Peep,” it’s hard to get behind. (Think of “fark,” which was a far more celebrated naming of an internet phenomenon, at least at the time, but which now nobody knows the meaning of.)

Second, and far more importantly, this book was published in 2008. And like all books dealing with new technology in our day and age, things have changed. A lot. The best example – of numerous examples throughout the book – is Twitter, where even its creators don’t seem to fully understand where Twitter was headed. The author treats it as basically a tool for oversharing. But the author cites numerous websites that have dwindled in popularity or disappeared, and services with the same fates. So it makes it much harder to take his fears seriously, as much as I may sympathize.

And there’s a lot more opinion here than fact. Studies are cited, experts interviewed, but so much of the book is the author’s subjective fears about the future.

And these fears undercut the conclusion in which the author takes a far more optimistic tone, one which he barely adopts throughout the previous chapters.

That being said, there were still some decent insights and I wasn’t bored.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.