THE BLIND GIANT – How to survive in the digital age

[2013]

“1967 could read it and bascically understand 2013” – William Gibson

“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 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” – The Guardian

“a fascinating work that really puts our sprint towards immersion in digital technology into perspective […] If you use the internet or digital technology at all, or if you’re interested in where society is headed in the 21st century, this is a riveting read, packed full of interesting details, but also with one eye on the wider context.” – The Big Issue

This is the book where I tried to explain the Internet to Man. Sort of.

It’s almost impossible to write a tech book that doesn’t go out of date, so I didn’t write a tech book. I wrote a book about humans and their relationship with technology and themselves. I tried to understand how stuff happens, how we make stuff, and what that stuff does to us. So this is a launchpad, not a book of answers. The idea is that it gives you the tools to think about this yourself.

Why should you?

Because that’s the number one necessary skill of our times: knowing what’s happening and seeing where it’s going, and what that means for you. That’s how you handle problems before they land on your doormat at home or at work.

This isn’t exactly a polemic. I don’t hold a brief for technology as a panacea, though I find those people who bemoan it tedious. Seriously, you won’t want the Internet? So you don’t want the tech revolution, the human genome project, etc? Do you really ever sit down and think about what the 70s and the 80s were really like?

But I’m not sold on “free” either – not because I think everything has to be paid for, but because there’s “free” and then there’s “cross-subsidised” and the second is a long way from the first. You know what democracy and capitalism and even modern justice systems depend on? Your ability to make choices well. You know what cross-subsidy models do? Degrade that ability. And likewise the pernicious practice of “nudging” presently being touted as the answer to policy ills in neo-liberal governments…

Look, I’ve gone off on a tangent, but it’s what you might call a relevant one. That’s what this book is about: knowing where to start thinking about all this. It’s a toolkit for your brain.

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Drop me a line! Forgive me if the response is not immediate - I tend to get rather behind. If something requires my rapid attention, please tweet me or get in touch through my agent, Patrick.

Cheers, NH

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