Using clear, readable prose, conceptual artist and poet Kenneth Goldsmith’s manifesto shows how our time on the internet is not really wasted but is quite productive and creative as he puts the experience in its proper theoretical and philosophical context.
Kenneth Goldsmith wants you to rethink the internet. Many people feel guilty after spending hours watching cat videos or clicking link after link after link. But Goldsmith sees that “wasted” time differently. Unlike old media, the internet demands active engagement—and it’s actually making us more social, more creative, even more productive.
When Goldsmith, a renowned conceptual artist and poet, introduced a class at the University of Pennsylvania called “Wasting Time on the Internet”, he nearly broke the internet. The New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Slate, Vice, Time, CNN, the Telegraph, and many more, ran articles expressing their shock, dismay, and, ultimately, their curiosity. Goldsmith’s ideas struck a nerve, because they are brilliantly subversive—and endlessly shareable.
In Wasting Time on the Internet, Goldsmith expands upon his provocative insights, contending that our digital lives are remaking human experience. When we’re “wasting time,” we’re actually creating a culture of collaboration. We’re reading and writing more—and quite differently. And we’re turning concepts of authority and authenticity upside-down. The internet puts us in a state between deep focus and subconscious flow, a state that Goldsmith argues is ideal for creativity. Where that creativity takes us will be one of the stories of the twenty-first century.
Wide-ranging, counterintuitive, engrossing, unpredictable—like the internet itself—Wasting Time on the Internet is the manifesto you didn’t know you needed.
About the Author
Kenneth Goldsmith is a conceptual artist, and the first poet laureate of the Museum of Modern Art. He is the author of Seven American Deaths and Disasters and the book of essays Uncreative Writing, breaking down the art form he pioneered. Goldsmith teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught the controversial “Wasting Time on the Internet” class that inspired this book. He lives in New York with artist Cheryl Donegan and their two sons.
For decades, Kenneth Goldsmith has forced us to question what constitutes and what does not constitute art. In Wasting Time on the Internet, he demonstrates persuasively and precisely the myriad ways in which the web undergirds contemporary art and ambitious contemporary art engages seriously with the implications of the web.
— David Shields, author of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto
“The Internet made the world an intelligence and vastly increased my own. I got my theory from Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables, Wells’ World Brain and McLuhan, but now I have the Internet instruction book: Wasting Time on the Internet. It’s also a pretty good history of the future.”
— Glenn O'Brien, author of The Style Guy and How To Be a Man
“Deeply versed in avant garde and surreal modes of seeing and playing in the so-called “real world,” Goldsmith proves a brilliant guide to the worlds we describe as digital or virtual. It’s pure pleasure to browse and surf and swipe and poke at contemporary tech culture in his company.”
— Rob Walker, co-editor Significant Objects
“Entertaining, vividly written investigation of the ways people interact with the web. . . . Goldsmith maintains a sharp focus as he weaves together wildly diverse ideas, explaining new information clearly for a general audience.”
— Publishers Weekly
“A persuasive argument about how what conventional wisdom dismisses as “wasting time” is actually time well spent”
— Kirkus Reviews