A cautionary, cohesively delivered update on the scope and science of human quantification.

DATA FOR THE PEOPLE

HOW TO MAKE OUR POST-PRIVACY ECONOMY WORK FOR YOU

How you can collect, use, and control your own data.

Technology expert Weigend (co-editor: Time Series Prediction: Forecasting the Future and Understanding the Past, 1993) believes we are all immersed in a “social data revolution” that will benefit everyone better if it is monitored and managed by each of us. As social data is disseminated and gathered at increasingly exponential rates, having control over all aspects of that data sharing is key to a fair exchange. The author’s research encompasses the risks and dangers of sharing personal information “because data can be used against us,” as he personally attests to in an anecdote about his father, who was arrested and jailed for six years in 1949 based on accumulated data that led Soviet intelligence to assume he was an American spy. That ordeal forms the foundation for a fascinating discussion on the nature of data mining and how individual privacy is routinely and often unknowingly compromised. Weigend examines the innovative collection methods of corporations, the predictability of algorithms, and the “signals of interest” that consumers dispatch with each click. From facial recognition software to targeted advertising to legions of networked cameras monitoring our every move as a “default condition of life,” these modern advances should spur individuals to re-evaluate their concepts and expectations of privacy. The legwork is up to us, writes the author—to first realize our inherent fears and reservations about data gathering and then investigate ways to stem the tide of personal information flowing in and out of the technological grid. Weigend offers a four-pronged strategy aimed at those who choose to limit their data sharing and achieve true transparency. The author maintains the intellectual complexity of his subject while remaining accessible to readers searching for the truth about the salability of their privacy, the nuances of data sharing, and the ways to cloak their digital footprints.

A cautionary, cohesively delivered update on the scope and science of human quantification.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-465-04469-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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