Berkeley Arts & Letters presents: JARON LANIER "YOU ARE NOT A GADGET: A MANIFESTO" Wednesday, January 27 7:30 PM at the Hillside Club (2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley) $12 advance (Brown Paper Tickets or 800-838-3006), $15 at the door (Hillside members half price) Jaron Lanier -- the 80s Silicon Valley visionary who coined the term "virtual reality" -- was among the first to predict the revolutionary changes the internet would bring to the world's commerce and culture. Now, over two decades since the Web was created, Lanier offers a provocative and cautionary look at the way it is transforming our lives in YOU ARE NOT A GADGET. The design and functions of the Web are now so familiar; it's hard to recall that it grew out of programming decisions made decades ago. In this fascinating look at digital culture, Lanier explains the ways in which those early crucial choices (such as making a user's presence on the Web anonymous) have had enormous -- and often unintended -- consequences. Lanier discusses the technical and cultural problems that can grow out of poorly considered digital design, and cautions against the current Web 2.0 fad --exemplified by sites like Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter -- which elevates the wisdom of the "hive mind" over the intelligence and judgment of individuals. Lanier also examines: How 1960s anti-government paranoia influenced the design of the online world How the destruction of the artistic middle class through file sharing is inseparable from the destruction of the middle class in general How a new kind of religion, based on a vision of digital transcendence, motivates some of the most influential technologists How a new take on humanism can lead to better technology by avoiding destructive illusions How the complicated and opaque computer algorithms that have been fetishized by new technologists contributed to the financial collapse Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and writer. His current appointments include Scholar at Large for Live Labs, Microsoft Corporation, and Interdisciplinary Scholar-in-Residence at UC Berkeley's Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. He is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and of the Watson Award from Carnegie Mellon University.