Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death makes a perfect reading for Introduction to Humanities this semester, particularly Chapter 4 (“The Typographic Mind”). Unable to find a free PDF or DOC version online, and unwilling to scan one myself, I opted for the Sparknotes because I am a lazy, bankrupt educator. But SparkNotes are better than a YouTube claymation right?

I ran into this amusing, ironic, and depressing exchange on a forum.

The exchange is started by a desperate student trying to locate a free copy of the book. The haters accuse him of thievery, point him to the library, or recommend he ask a cute female classmate. My humanities class is secretly about media ecology, and I am talking about issues of authorship, truth/knowledge, beauty, and representation as they shift and morph over time. We will trace the democratization of knowledge, art (or artifacting), and education, as embedded in the notion of “the humanities.”

I ran into the discussion board conversation shortly after finding the text of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and a Youtube animated version (an excellent rendering, by the way). I know my students won’t read Plato.

So envision the following rendered in a quasi-Platonic dialogue.

01-11-06, 11:24 AM
Can anyone please help me locate an online version of the book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman??
I will drop by the Barnes and Noble later tomorrow.
Please HELP me find a version of this book online 🙂 🙂 🙂
I love you long time!

01-11-06, 12:02 PM
If this is a normal book you can buy in the book store, then what makes you think you can find a free online version?

01-11-06, 12:03 PM
because you can find anything on the internet 🙂
Legal or not I don’t care at this point 😀

01-11-06, 12:17 PM

Go get it from a library

01-11-06, 12:20 PM

OMG come on guys
If I wanted to go t1o the library, I wouldn’t ask this question 🙂

01-11-06, 12:27 PM
And what’s wrong with going t1o the library?… *shakes head* Punks… :p :p

01-11-06, 12:48 PM
I don’t mind going, except I do not have time. The book is only ~$10, I can easily afford it.
I was just hoping to read a few at work 🙂
But thanks guys, for your kind insults 🙁

01-11-06, 01:43 PM
yeah, come on you guys, stop messing with ovoleg’s head!!

01-11-06, 02:10 PM
so anyone know where I can find it??

01-11-06, 02:42 PM
At a library or book store.
Its like someone in the TDF forum asking for a free burned copy of the 2003 TDF.
Buy it. Its stupid not to.
If you do find it on the internet than in all honestly…Lame.

01-11-06, 03:00 PM
Stupid not to?
care to explain?
OMG, I know someone on here knows some site, I looked a bit and I don’t think people care enough about Neil to copy the book online

01-11-06, 04:21 PM
Would you go into a store and take a loaf of bread and just walk out?
And if you want it that bad just hit up spark notes and read the summaries.

01-11-06, 05:30 PM
That made no sense…
Walk in and take a loaf of bread? That is equivallent of me walking in and stealing the book…
How does that make any sense to what I was asking for initially? :rolleyes:
I already checked spark notes and they didn’t have the book listed 🙂
Thank you for your words of consciousness.

01-11-06, 05:48 PM
Is it for a class? Why don’t you hook up with a classmate, preferably female, and read along with her? 🙂

01-11-06, 05:50 PM
no time 🙂
otherwise I would 😀

In closing, I just want to say I care enough about Neil Postman to copy and post the chapter online for class. If you have read any of Postman’s writings, you will understand the irony of this sentiment.


  1. What if you could steal a loaf of bread by leaving an exact copy in its place? It’s interesting how quickly people start talking about copying as stealing. Have you seen Don’t Copy that Floppy? As you can probably guess from the name, it’s an anti-pirating video from the 90s. When you see the video you’ll really be able to tell it was made in the 90s. Another version was made in 2009, and the contrast between the two is very interesting. The first video focuses on all the creative work involved in creating games and suggests that one day the kids in the video might want to create games for a living, too. The first video a way of thinking about copyright that used be much more prevalent: copyright protects the economic interests of the creator, which creates incentives for creativity. I think people create for many different reasons, but whatever. The 2009 version treats the kids as consumers, not creators, and takes a much more hardline law-and-order approach to piracy. The kids in this video are sure to go to jail if they don’t straighten up.

    One more video: Copying Is Not Theft

  2. I used Amusing Ourselves To Death in a class I taught in the early ’90s, PHIL 102: “Introduction to Reasoning & Critical Thinking”, alongside Howard Kahane’s Logic & Contemporary Rhetoric. Postman’s book changed the way I thought about how people absorbed and the news (now called: “content”) and what they made of it.

    The chapter “The Typographic Mind” was—by far—the most illuminating, and I would videotape both TV nightly news stories and broadcast presidential debates, and watch them with my students while holding a stopwatch. Illuminating.

    I was so impressed by Postman’s thesis and Kahane’s protocols that I went on to obtain a Master’s Degree in journalism and plan to research a possible curriculum I am calling “Critical Journalism,” with Postman’s work underlying a great deal of what I develop.

    Good work work with your own projects.

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