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The Blind Giant: Being Human in a Digital World Paperback – May 1, 2012
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'Harkaway approaches technology not as a proselytiser but simply as a human being. This is the book's great strength: a warm, intelligent, trustworthy sensibility. The language is at times exquisite, and there are enough aphorisms to embellish PowerPoint presentations in Shoreditch for decades to come' Literary Review 'Harkaway is a qualified optimist on new technology and social media' Independent 'Harkaway has some big things to say about the current state of the world and he does so in an unassuming way, using his wry personal reminiscence to illustrate his point' Guardian
About the Author
Nick Harkaway is the author of two novels, The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker, and a regular blogger for the Bookseller's FutureBook website. From 1999 to 2008, he was a jobbing scriptwriter. During that time he also wrote brochure copy for a company selling bottle-capping machinery, and the website text for an exclusive lingerie boutique. He lives in London with his wife Clare, a human rights lawyer, and his daughter Clemency, an infant.
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It's hefty piece of work, talking about the impact of technology on a very wide range of subjects, from the publishing business, to our ability to learn and concentrate, to the impact on politics and life in the public eye. His view of the impact of tech on the publishing business is especially well done, as he's grown up in and around that industry as one of the 'disruptees', and yet is also a technology proponent.
Through the book, the author takes a nuanced, even-handed look at most of these areas of controversy, showing both sides as having some merit. He also tackles it in a way that is entertaining, and still goes deep enough to show that he's done a fair amount of research and thinking on the subjects.
The down side is that he covers broad ground without really reaching a hard conclusion. that might be OK though - as the point is to show that we are evolving in our relationship with technology, and that we don't necessarily know where it will end up, and that it's neither all good nor all bad, but somewhere in between, as will be our end destination.
But this is no cold treatise containing a lifeless analysis of the mechanics of how modern technology, specifically the Internet, affects us all. It is a hearth-side conversation, probably with a pint of ale to hand, ranging in subject matter from the immediacy of on-line shopping to the toppling of governments in the Middle East.
The book is very up-to-date with inclusion of the social issues surrounding the London riots of 2011 and the Arab Spring that swept away governments in the Middle East, and the role played by the Internet in facilitating both the initiation of these events and the subsequent recovery and stabilization.
Harkaway is inviting debate. In his conversational style he lays out his views and concerns on the disappearance of traditional work rolls and the unintentional consequences of the large, new corporations of the digital age that promote good intentions but, due to their size and reliance on old financial structures, end up doing damage they never intended.
A website has been provided ([...]) for readers to enter into a conversation on the subject matter of each chapter. This is an example of the new immediacy Harkaway demonstrates the Internet has enabled. It is an attempt to encourage debate on the decisions we need to make to minimise the unintentional consequences of not making conscious decisions on how we wish to use the new Internet technology.
This book's breadth of scope is vast and it deserves to be read, considered, and responded to. If you use the Internet, if you have a smart phone, if you buy things on-line, you have a duty to read this book and enter into the debate on how society should use our new toys so that they don't destroy the lives of those around us, and then our own.