Not that you need to know what Lanier looks like but this man through this book has some very interesting ideas.
The main message appears to be that we keep forgetting that the net is a tool, and as a tool, it unconsciously shapes our behavior. His analysis of the shortcomings and rigidity of the tool is not so much a Luddite rant but a bereavement from one who was there from near the beginning and still labors in the digital mines. Lanier is credited with coming up with the term “virtual reality”.
Another of his main concerns is that the net grows at the expense of the individual. The emphasis placed on consensus through works like Wikipedia, on anonymity as common and the eroding of copyright have resulted in a lack of original thought.
He opines that mashups are now more treasured than the original creations, and that the people making money are no longer the creators but the aggregators or second level users of the works. And he makes the interesting point that despite the early anti-commercial days of the net, it has evolved into an entity, and within a culture, that holds of all speech and images, only the corporate as sacrosanct.
But among the many asides and brilliant ideas in this book is the idea that the reason we may find so many digital manifestations so remarkable is because we have diminished our sense of strong creative individuals and relegated the revolution to the crowd.
Perhaps the one thing to take away from this is that we need to think about the tools we use, and to remember that they are tools, they are things we should be using rather than us being used.