An eye-opening reassessment of the concept of personal data.



A reconceptualization of the very idea of identity—human or otherwise.

Brook opens his engaging nonfiction debut by looking at the way that people’s technological-assisted “extended presences,” or EPs, depending on such things as social media, extend far beyond their immediate selves. He circumvents readers’ suspicions that he might be faddishly following social media trends by using an example of someone who handily predates MySpace and Facebook: Cleopatra. Her public image, he writes, was much greater than a commoner’s during her lifetime and has since—through books, institutional instruction, plays and films—grown exponentially. Her form of extended presence, in other words, has gained a life independent of her own. Brook sees this as a prototype example of his concept of the “humem”: As new technology makes EPs more elaborate, functional and necessary in our daily lives, he says, they also take on a more independent existence. Brook is reluctant to limit his discussion to today’s technology: “At any point in history, we tend to construe the current state of the art as the final word,” he writes. “But we are always mistaken.” Instead, he believes that “humems” should be treated as though they exist “independent of any specific media,” as separate beings deserving of “many of the same things we require for ourselves, including agency, freedom, welfare, security, and even economic opportunity.” Brook looks to the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a rudimentary model of his envisioned “humem state”; he compares this with legislation designed to protect nonhuman life (such as gorillas), which may make his concept more palatable to readers who find the idea of granting rights to Facebook profiles a bit jarring. In 11 densely written (and sometimes overlong) chapters, Brook lays out the case that “humems” have evolved sufficiently in recent years to warrant more nuanced consideration as self-contained entities. “Cultural mind-sets need time to evolve,” he correctly notes, and everyone who’s ever had their online data “mined” will think harder about that evolution after reading this groundbreaking book.

An eye-opening reassessment of the concept of personal data.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692251621

Page Count: 310

Publisher: humemity

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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