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Digital Vertigo: How Today's Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us Hardcover – May 22, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“Unlike most commentators, Andrew Keen observes the internet as if from a distance.  Digital Vertigo may be one of the few books on the subject that, twenty years from now, will be seen to have got it right. Neither blinkered advocate nor hardened cynic, he identifies the good and the bad with a rare human and historical perspective. “--Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP 

 “Andrew Keen has found the off switch for Silicon Valley's reality distortion field. With a cold eye and a cutting wit, he reveals the grandiose claims of our new digital plutocrats to be little more than self-serving cant. Digital Vertigo provides a timely and welcome reminder that having substance is more important than being transparent.”--Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains


"Andrew Keen is that rarest of authors: one has taken the time to understand the benefits of technological innovation before warning us of its risks. In Digital Vertigo Keen finds himself in a dizzying world where it is not just possible to share every detail of our professional and private lives, but actually expected. While a growing number of his friends -- including those in the upper echelons of Silicon Valley society -- preach the gospel of total transparency and cyber-oversharing, he refuses to blindly click the "accept" button. Instead he takes us on a guided tour of the history of privacy, solitude and the technology of socialization -- before encouraging us to take a long, hard look at our lives before we blindly allow others to do the same. A vital and timely book that's terrifying, fascinating, persuasive and reassuring all at the same time. And one that will make even the biggest Facebook-o-phile or Linked-in-a-holic think twice before adding another contact to their network."--Paul Carr, author of Bringing Nothing to the Party and The Upgrade


"A bracing read. From Hitchcock to Mark Zuckerberg and the politics of privacy, a savvy observer of contemporary digital culture reframes current debates in a way that clarifies and enlightens."--Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together


"Web 3.0 has catapulted society to new technological heights, yet afflicted us individually with a profound sense of vertigo as we stand naked for all to see. It is almost too late to ask whether we would live our digital lives differently if we had known that privacy would become the scarcest commodity on the Internet. But in this timely and important book, Andrew Keen once again thinks one step ahead of social media pioneers, posing questions they will need to answer or risk facing a digital uprising. Equal parts philosophical and informative, Digital Vertigo brings us back to 19th century debates that have an eerie relevance to today's technological dilemmas, while also laying out the latest corporate strategies being deployed to decipher and commercialize your most intimate thoughts. Better than any other multi-media expert, Keen challenges the false promise of the virtue of sharing." -- Parag Khanna, Director, Hybrid Reality Institute, and author of How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance

"Despite the unfortunate lesson throughout the 20th Century of the dangerous allure of utopian thinking, the Digital Age has inspired a whole new generation of fabulously successful entrepreneurs who preach the revolutionary future of Web 2.0, Web 3.0, . . .  That’s why Andrew Keen’s work is so important.  He’s a voice of informed caution, a Silicon Valley insider warning against false prophets and a future that may destroy as much as it creates.  In Digital Vertigo, he examines the fantastical claims for and astounding growth of social media, countering the vision of excited gurus with sober, reality-based queries and judgments.  The book is a tonic for individuals who are tired of the hype and coercion and display of online contact."-- Mark Bauerlein, author of The Dumbest Generation

"Digital Vertigo provides an articulate, measured, contrarian voice against a sea of hype about social media.  As an avowed technology optimist, I’m grateful for Keen who makes me stop and think before committing myself fully to the social revolution.” -- Larry Downes, author of the e-commerce bestseller Unleashing the Killer App: Digital Strategies for Market Dominance

About the Author

ANDREW KEEN, author of The Cult of the Amateur, is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur whose writings on culture, media, and technology have appeared in The Weekly Standard, Fast Company, The San Francisco Chronicle, Listener, and Jazziz. He lives in Santa Rosa, California.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312624980
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312624989
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,299,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew Keen is an Internet entrepreneur who founded in 1995 and built it into a popular first generation Internet company. He is currently the executive director of the Silicon Valley salon FutureCast, a Senior Fellow at CALinnovates, the host of the "Keen On" Techonomy chat show, and a columnist for CNN.

He is the author of three books: CULT OF THE AMATEUR: How The Internet Is Killing Our Culture (2007), DIGITAL VERTIGO: How Today's Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing and Disorienting Us (2012) and INTERNET IS NOT THE ANSWER (2015).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Ryan C. Holiday VINE VOICE on May 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In 2007, before Nicholas Carr and Jaron Lanier, Andrew Keen published a prescient critique of Web 2.0 culture titled The Cult of the Amateur, a book that anticipated many of the problems of the web today. It was, thankfully, a runaway bestseller.

As both an accomplished academic and an internet entrepreneur, Keen was able to cut through all this self-interest and distraction and portray it as it was. He has largely been proven right. Despite proclamations that we'd all be making our living from blogs, hardly any of us do. Journalism hasn't gotten better, it's gotten worse (and less profitable). Digg is dead, long live Reddit (nobody gets paid on either). Studios are still in control of television and movies (and what we watch still sucks). Radio is ruled by a few elite stars. After all, instead of democratizing the music industry, YouTube just gave us Justin Bieber.

Thankfully, Keen is back with Digital Vertigo, a book timed perfectly with the Facebook IPO. This time his criticism is more dire, more urgent. We're no longer talking about issues of art or business but of privacy, responsibility and freedom.

Digital Vertio is an extremely well-researched book which successfully describes the ways in which our lives, both private and public, have been affected by social media. He deconstructs the most chilling aspects of our "Social Culture," drawing often terrifying parallels between our continuing loss of privacy, our growing tendency toward "groupthink," and a near obsession with documenting and broadcasting even the most trivial moments of our lives, with disturbing themes from Orwell's 1984.

The possible downfalls of a culture obsessed with social media have been discussed at length, but Keen presents a fresh angle, tying in connections to the 1960s Summer of Love, the origins of the Internet, and the Occupy Wall Street protests to create a compelling argument for a return to privacy. An eye-opening read.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Clarice on November 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I began Digital Vertigo with relish. To give you a sense of where I'm coming from and why I felt I had to read this book, understand that my employer recently told me to get a Facebook account so that I could take part in social media. I absolutely refused and found my job in jeopardy. But so strong is my aversion to the stupidity, emptiness, and narcissism of social media that I was willing to go on the unemployment line rather than get dragged onto Facebook. I don't even post my reviews here on Amazon under my full name, for fear of some lunatic who disagrees with me showing up on my doorstep with a gun. I certainly am not about to sign onto Facebook, or Twitter, or any of those other "services" and give the world access to my entire life in return for the "privilege" of using their technology.

So, I expected Digital Vertigo (given the author's reputation) to be a good, close look at WHY society has become so obsessed with social media, as well as the findings of relevant scientific research indicating the effects of social media on humanity. I don't think most thinking people would argue with the book's subtitle, which asserts that "society's online revolution is dividing, diminishing, and disorienting us"; and I was pulled in to the book by that little word "how" in the subtitle.

Unfortunately, the book does not deliver on its promise. I saw several problems in the book.

First, it is so extensively researched and documented that quoted portions of the text comprise (no exaggeration) at least 60-70% of the book. So, rather than the book reading as a thoughtful analysis of one man's opinions and research, it reads like a master's thesis summarizing what everyone else has said. Unfortunately, most of the people quoted are social media gurus.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ben Rothke on June 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In Digital Vertigo: How Today's Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us, author Andrew Keen, who describes himself as the Anti-Christ of Silicon Valley (whatever that means), raises numerous profound questions about social media and its implications on society.

In the new world of social media and Web 3.0, which is claiming to revolutionize communication and interactions, Keen writes that history is repeating itself and points to the beginning of the industrial revolution as an example. He writes of Jeremy Bentham who invented the Panopticon; a structure where the inhabitants were watched at all times.

Bentham felt the Panopticon could make humanity more virtuous, more hard-working and happier; similar to the promise of Web 3.0. The Panopticon was a failure, and Keen sees the same for Web 3.0.

The book is a critique of Web 3.0. While definitions of Web 3.0 vary greatly; Keen focuses on the personalization aspect. His view is that the current Internet culture and the wave of Web 3.0 social software is debasing society.

In this well-researched book, Keen presents two theses: that Web 3.0 is turning into an Orwellian infrastructure and that the hype of the Web 3.0 prognosticators is all hype. For the first point, it is a false premise, while the later has significant merit.

Keen has a misinterpretation of Big Brother and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The book has scores of references to George Orwell, Big Brother, Nineteen Eighty-Four and related themes. Orwell describes Big Brother as the dictator of a totalitarian state, where the ruling party wields total power over the inhabitants.

In the society that Orwell describes, everyone is under complete surveillance by the authorities.
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