Looking back on Lanier’s “You are not a Gadget” I think one of the most profound points you can take from it is shown in the physical writing itself. The writing makes the work an original piece, of which the crowd could not produce on its own, because it has the finger print of Lanier throughout, if only in its layout and style of prose.
Lanier offers an antidote to show this point. Pulling in Shirkey’s idea that quantity can overwhelm quality based on the fictional idea that if the internet connected population took 1% of the time they spent watching TV to produce collectively, they would create 98 Wikipedia projects per year. Lanier than queries if the crowd could replicate the achievements of Albert Einstein. The answer to this is both assumed and profound all in one. Of course the crowd could not replicate the achievements of Albert Einstein, in fact as the reader I thought of course not him and really not even those considered less accomplished as him. In this way the crowd fails and so does the idea of quantity over quality, and the individual with greater quality wins.
And in this same vain perhaps it could be said that Lanier’s strongest argument is in fact his unique style and content of writing. Could the crowd with quantity over quality produced the physical book that Lanier has? There is a slim possibility that the crowd might produce the content overall held between the covers, but Lanier’s non-linear style of fragmented chapters is perhaps unique to him as well as the contrast of concrete examples melded with abstract philosophy. I think the answer to the question would have a similar answer as with the Einstein question, “Of course the crowd could not produce this work, duh.” And in that answer is Lanier’s threaded idea through the book that we (both the consumers and the producers of new technologies) should not allow the individual or the human to be lost to the technology.