6 Star — A pioneeering panorama
Take the time to look at the Table of Contents using Amazon’s Look Inside! feature. This is a remarkable book, both comprehensible at the undergraduate or citizen lay level, and a foundation for advanced studies.
I find this book absorbing in every respect. Part I covers the pernicious impact of algorithms and surveillance capitalism, and touches on the reality that “knowledge” is under siege, which is to say, data integrity at the micro and macro levels has vanished, while personal privacy at the micro and macro levels has also vanished.
Part II makes the point that the concepts of control and sovereignty do not apply in cyberspace. There are huge overlays, penetrations, covert thefts and more, the bottom line being that no one owns anything, everything is up for grabs, and reality competes with fake news / contrived misinformation at all levels on all topics.
Part III is the heart of the book in grappling with the meat of data politics — data drives politics, politics drive data. We are all data “subjects” (a nuanced term), we are all being herded and colonized by those who own the data tools.
Part IV is both idealistic and philosophical and makes an earnest attempt to discuss citizen rights (none) and possibilities including the “right” to be forgotten, which is right up there with the “right” to not be eaten by a dinosauer that can run faster than you can.
The book has an index which I found helpful in double-checking my preliminary assumptions about the book.
It has two weak spots: it avoids the reality that we are only processing 1% of what we collect which is 1% of what is published officially which is in turn 1% of what is written (including graduate papers), which is 1% of what is known — roughly speaking; it also avoids true holistic analytics and true cost economics as essential topics toward making the most of our new-found ability to do universal DIGITAL coverage at an individual level of granularity. It does not address what we are missing when we ignore all the analog and tacit knowledge.