Book Review: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

One of the achievements of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is the title itself, and the author’s success with bringing that moniker into the consciousness of the general public. Whether coincidence or not, the term “surveillance capitalism” has appeared in countless op-ed pieces in the past few months and has come to crystalize the arguments against the seemingly unrestrained growth and power of entities such as Facebook, Google and Amazon.
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Book Review: World Without Mind

With an unsparing look at the leaders who dominate big tech, Franklin Foer mercilessly exposes the dark side of our descent into a world without mind, one in which culture gives way to algorithms and where the line between fact and falsehood has eroded. Although Apple is briefly discussed, the main focus of Mr. Foer’s invective is directed towards three companies: Google, Facebook and Amazon.
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Book Review: Technopoly

Published nearly twenty-five years ago in 1993, Neil Postman’s Technopoly eerily forecasts today’s Twitter-enabled Trumpian world with great prescience. Consider this quote buried in the second to last chapter: “What we are talking about here is not blasphemy but trivialization, against which there can be no laws. In Technopoly, the trivialization of significant cultural symbols is largely conducted by commercial enterprise. This occurs . . . because the adoration of technology pre-empts the adoration of anything else.” Donald Trump himself is mentioned later in the chapter (along with the now forgotten Lee Iacocca) as an example of the culturally unaware anti-hero of the new age.
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Book Review: Irresistible

The opening hook of Irresistible is a telling anecdote about Steve Jobs, relating that a year after he introduced the iPad to the world, he conceded to a journalist that he still hadn’t let his own children touch the device. This unsettling admission was recogition of the fact that tech titans such as Jobs understand that these devices are, in a sense, distracting and addictive. In a analogy to the world of drug addiction, you never want to get high on your own supply.
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Book Review: The Internet of Us

If you have a penchant for philosophy and are concerned about the encroachment of the internet on the fabric of our daily lives, then Michael Lynch’s The Internet of Us will provide suitable sustenance for your intellectual musings. As a professor of philosophy, Mr. Lynch is well versed in nuanced philosophical viewpoints that relate to our mode of understanding in the age of the internet, and is able to reference everyone from Aristotle to Bertrand Russell in the process.
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Book Review: The Internet is Not the Answer

If you’re looking for a no holds barred critique of everything that is wrong with our exuberant embrace of the internet, Andrew Keen’s The Internet is Not the Answer might, in fact, be the answer to your quest. The theme of this book can be summed up with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s thinly veiled admonition to Facebook and Google users that they are not the customer – they are the product. As aptly observed by the author, “we are all working for Facebook and Google for free, manufacturing the very personal data that makes their companies so valuable.”
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Book Review: Data and Goliath

With his latest book, Data and Goliath, Bruce Schneier, a renowned expert on computer security, has delivered a cogent analysis of the many privacy and surveillance dilemmas facing society. Notably, Mr. Schneier worked with the Guardian newspaper to review the classified NSA documents in the possession of Edward Snowden. With an encyclopedic knowledge of the issues, he not only outlines the problems, but also offers some useful solutions, both for the individual and society at large.
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Book Review: The Two Cultures

The Two Cultures, C. P. Snow’s landmark treatise from 1959, is a book that bears a fresh look in an era where computing technology permeates and dominates popular culture. The central argument of this essay describes an unbridgeable chasm between the “two cultures” evident in the mindsets of scientists and of literary intellectuals. Now, more than 50 years later, Snow’s analysis of this dichotomy is still worthy of reflection.
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Book Review: The Information

The Information is a sprawling account of how the concept of information came to define and rule not only our computing technologies, but also breakthrough developments in the biological and physical sciences. Our ability to view the world through the looking glass of bits and bytes has signaled a radical change in human consciousness, and by guiding us through the key historical events that have led to the present day, author James Gleick helps us to understand just how encompassing this paradigm shift has been.
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Book Review: The Glass Cage

The Glass Cage is a sequel of sorts to Nicholas Carr’s brilliant book from 2010, The Shallows. Whereas his earlier book dealt with broad topics pertaining to the internet and its effect on our thought processes, The Glass Cage zeros in on the dangers of our excessive reliance on software automation.
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Book Review: The Shallows

With The Shallows, Nicholas Carr establishes himself as a worthy successor to authors of groundbreaking books dealing with the history of technology, taking his place beside Lewis Mumford’s Technics and Civilization and Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media.
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Book Review: To Save Everything, Click Here

The glib title of To Save Everything, Click Here belies the serious nature of the book. A better indication of the Evgeny Morozov’s intent is provided by its subtitle: The Folly of Technological Solutionism. In this work, the author repudiates the idea that the majority of human problems can be addressed solely with technology, referring to this ideology as “solutionism.” In his view, such solutions appear to be successful only within their narrow framework, and often have unintended consequences.
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