Relevant, cautionary, prognosticative insights on the enduring digitization vs. democracy turf war.

PEOPLE VS. TECH

HOW THE INTERNET IS KILLING DEMOCRACY (AND HOW WE SAVE IT)

A provocative report on the “looming dystopia” of the digital revolution and its effects on democracy.

Addressing the battles lines drawn between democracy and technology, British technology authority Bartlett (Radicals Chasing Utopia: Inside the Rogue Movements Trying to Change the World, 2017, etc.) meticulously scrutinizes the social and political consequences of our increasingly digitized world and how its control compromises societal frameworks and individual freedoms. He concedes that modern technologies have created greater convenience and improved virtual connectivity, making us “more informed, wealthier and, in some ways, happier.” Echoing this sentiment are the tech pioneers pushing an attention economy with addictive apps and gadgets while dismissing prophecies of a systematically dismantled democracy. Bartlett bolsters this assertion by documenting the real threats of algorithmic data collection, manipulative advertising, and the transference of “moral and political reasoning to machines,” which, once begun, could be impossible to curb. The author estimates that in less than two decades, unregulated technology, artificial intelligence, and election-rigging psychographics will have successfully undermined and basically decimated the benefits of a healthy, proactive democratic society. The narrative tone is engagingly conversational yet authoritative as Bartlett analyzes the current age of hacked elections and nefarious data breaches. He believes that as each of these events (or worse) becomes more commonplace, democracy and its hard-won tenets will continue to erode. He identifies six key supporting platforms, like active citizenship, free elections, competitive economy, and a shared culture, that keep democracy in motion as a “workable system of collective self-government that people believe in and support.” He also paints a clear picture of a future dystopia, unless big tech’s influence is stemmed and the integrity of free speech, autonomy, and politics is preserved. His renunciation of tech’s tightening stronghold is consistently cogent, as is the viable, counterbalancing arsenal of pragmatic solutions that he provides at the end of the book.

Relevant, cautionary, prognosticative insights on the enduring digitization vs. democracy turf war.

Pub Date: April 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4437-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

Did you like this book?

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

more