Monday, August 12, 2019

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

by Shoshana Zuboff

If this were April 1st, I think I'd type "TLDR" and leave it there for the day.

But it's not, so I won't. This book is long, I must admit. And dense. With big helpings of economics and philosophy. It was a bit foolish to borrow this from the library in the middle of a busy summer. But so it goes. I did read it, however. So should you.

In this book, Dr. Zuboff writes about a concept she calls surveillance capitalism, a practice that "...unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data." In other words, they're watching you and profiting from it. Companies are gathering all sorts of data from your online interactions--data you intentionally post online as well as data culled from your apps and devices. They can then crunch the info to not only throw ads back at you but also to try and influence and manipulate people. ... Okay, that's basically advertising, but some of the idealists out there aren't just looking for the bucks. They'd like to reform society, make it more predictable and controllable.

Like I said, the book is dense. But even though Dr. Zuboff is way smarter and erudite than I am, she did manage to use examples and metaphors to help me slog through the big words and concepts. She paints an overwhelming picture, but also points back to past times when society was similarly confronted with new paradigms. Check it out.

LibraryThing link


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