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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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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