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The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power
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The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  2,025 ratings  ·  384 reviews
The challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, the first detailed examination of the unprecedented form of power called "surveillance capitalism," and the quest by powerful corporations to predict and control our behavior.

In this masterwork of original thinking and research, Shoshana Zuboff provides startling insights into the phenomenon that she has named
Hardcover, 691 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by PublicAffairs (first published May 22nd 2018)
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Mark Have you read the LARB piece by Nicholas Carr yet? Checked out her credentials? Here's the link to Carrs review which I found to be informative while…moreHave you read the LARB piece by Nicholas Carr yet? Checked out her credentials? Here's the link to Carrs review which I found to be informative while acknowledging the flaws. I won't state my opinion as I haven't read it (though I have read a couple of Zuboffs papers and listened to a podcast) and more specifically, and we probably have enough expressions of opinion posted as reviews when it is little more than a superficial psychological judgement - the most obvious being the blanket judgement of "conspiracy theory" when this subject is discussed, which I find to be a red herring. The nature of the phenomenon does not fit the definition of the word "conspiracy," neither does the idea that they have unprecedented power of a sort imply there is conspiracy. These companies are using the same business model and method but they are competing against each other. Jaron Lanier states point blank there is no conspiracy, to throw that in is to frame it in a wrong way with its associated assumptions in the first place and I feel strongly that should be cleared up in the beginning.

If anything, there is unconscious cooperation because people simply blindly give their behavior data without even realize they are doing so.

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Start your review of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power
I was talking to a friend at work about this book and we agreed it was both very good and very long, perhaps even too long. Sometimes, when you are at a symphony concert, the first movement will end with ‘da – da – da – daaaaaa’ and some people in the audience will clap, something that annoys all of those who know you are only meant to clap right at the end of the piece. Like I said, this book is very long and in three parts – and at the end of the first part I was getting ready to clap and ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, 2019
Comprehensive and visionary, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism paints a frightening portrait of the rise of mass surveillance since the start of the Information Age. In ornate prose Zuboff charts the development of a new form of global capitalism that aims first to surveil all facets of human existence and then, using vast stores of privately held, ruthlessly gathered data, to predict and modify user behavior to align with desired commercial outcomes. Through an ever-expanding technological ...more
An important, albeit flawed, book. Viewing the rise of Google and Facebook through the lens of sociology, this makes for some heavy reading as one swims among the book's unique vocabulary ("the will to will," "division of learning in society," "double movement," "shadow text," "extraction imperative," "prediction imperative"). Eventually the phrases begin to make their own sort of strange sense, but it definitely feels foreign. Perhaps I haven't read much sociology, so this failing may be my ...more
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
I’m giving this book 2 stars, in hopes that the surveillance capitalists at Amazon will not recommend others like it to me.

In terms of research, this book deserves a higher rating. It is incredibly thorough and well sourced. But here is an example of a sentence the author, Shoshanna Zuboff, uses: “This time, we have sent them into the raw heart of a rogue capitalism that amassed its fortune and power through behavioral dispossession parlayed into behavior modification in the service of others’
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This will be a long review, so let me summarise it with tweet-like succinctness: ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’ is Black Mirror for people who hate fun. I definitely mean that as a compliment. It synthesises and analyses a wide range of ideas I’ve come across in leisure and work reading during the past few years, mostly in articles online. As fragments, those ideas filled me with concern and confusion. Combined into the clear and systematic structure of a book, they fill me with dread, but ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
THIS is the book I have been waiting to read on the new internet era. It's a mix of Neil Postman, Marshall Mcluhan, and Huxely. If I have one complaint, it's that she gets super carried away with metaphors and flowery language--it was actually quite annoying. But Zuboff takes a long view of history and situates the new era of surveillance capitalism within parallel trends in markets, culture, and law. She makes some brilliant observations--her comparison of surveillance capitalism with ...more
Laura Noggle
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“At its core, surveillance capitalism is parasitic and self-referential. It revives Karl Marx’s old image of capitalism as a vampire that feeds on labor, but with an unexpected turn. Instead of labor, surveillance capitalism feeds on every aspect of every human’s experience.”

I can't stop thinking about, or recommending this book enough. Awareness is the first line of defense.

"Consider that the internet has become essential for social participation, that the internet is now saturated with
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
A book about the encroachment of tech firms and global capital into our private lives. With data mining and machine-learning capital is closing in on the last spaces that belong to us our private lives and thoughts. If that sounds creepy and totalitarian it is. With money to be made on our thoughts, behaviors, and inclinations silicon valley is using computers, smartphones, smart homes, and sensors to map out every thought and behavior we have to maximize profit. It also seeks to shape our ...more
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it
A few years ago I read Yuval Noah Harari's book Homo Deus, a whimsical look at our looming technological dystopia. Harari's book struck me as being happily resigned to the end of human freedom and indeed the end of humanity as we know it. This book could be described as the pessimistic and despairing counterpart to Harari's work. It goes over many of the same themes: the predictive power of Big Data, the loss of human freedom and the intrusion of surveillance technology into every corner of our ...more
Bryan Alexander
We read this for our online book club in the spring and summer of 2019.

Here are our discussions by chapter: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18.

My concluding thoughts?

Generally Zuboff succeeds in sketching out a dystopian business model, one predicated on turning the details of our lives into corporate profit. This is most famously or notoriously demonstrated by Facebook and Google. The structures and strategiesSurveillance Capitalism lays out are very useful tools,
Mar 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: good-non-fiction
Data privacy or unauthorised (and wrongly allowed) usage of an individual’s private data by someone else arecritically important topics. However, this comprehensivelyone-sided book does not even scratch the surface of the issues at hand.

The whole book is a repeated polemic on almost any data gathering, analytics and companies that have successful businesses running on them. The highly coloured and simplistic view of the evilsof Google and Facebook (it is largely about these two and a bit about
Chris Chapman
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: zz-yr-2020
When I like people immensely I never tell their names to any one. It seems like surrendering a part of them. You know how I love secrecy. It is the only thing that can make modern life wonderful or mysterious to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it.
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

This is a book of extraordinary erudition and intelligence. She identifies the problem but also, where it is all leading, and why we are blithely going along with it. Arendt, Kafka,
Keith Swenson
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is not your grand-father's internet any more. What we are living through is a brand new kind of technology, and a brand new kind of business built on and for that. It astoundingly hard to grasp the nature of a paradigm shift while it is happening. Shoshanna Zuboff puts it all together into a single book: the history, the discovery, the development, from the Google taking the responsibility to find the right place to put the ad, to predicting behavior from digital exhaust, to the surprising ...more
Maru Kun
Jan 17, 2019 marked it as to-read
A nice quote on Facebook's business model from an article on this book in the NYT, O.K., Google: How Much Money Have I Made for You Today? - "’s all fun and games until the host of “The Apprentice” becomes president..."
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Who knows? Who decides? Who decides who decides?

I remember thinking a few years back, when Siri was introduced to Apple iPhones, “why exactly do we need this?”. Had it really become such an inconvenience to type a few words into our ubiquitous phones to get information? Who was clamoring for this?
Today Siri seems almost quaint. We’ve moved at the speed of light to voice recognition finding a restaurant for us to “smart homes” that play our music, regulate temperatures, adjust our mattresses,
George Anders
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
In The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Shoshanna Zuboff argues relentlessly that the rise of Google, Facebook, etc. has done something terribly wrong to society. She's alarmed by all the surreptitious information-gathering that goes on in the background. She's especially troubled by the way we're deluged with personalized ads, every time we go on the Internet. And she wants us to be alarmed, too.

Her book touches on some fascinating questions. Do we want a world that cherishes sanctuary, or that
Graeme Newell
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: overdrive
I found the topic of this book really fascinating. I’m so anxious to better understand how the tech giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook gather and use the vast amounts of data they collect.

Unfortunately this book was a swing and a miss. The author is so passionately obsessed with vilifying these companies that the book regressed to a 700+ page vendetta. It’s obvious she did some amazing research but the portent of doom that pervades this book just got too annoying. Okay, I get it. These
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An absolute MUST READ. I listened to this on audio and loved the narrator. But I need this as an ebook so I can take notes. Because, holy shit. I feel like, if you care about the future of democracy then this is for you.
Sasha Mircov
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is a very welcome and overdue attempt to provide a theory and critique of the information economy. Professor Soshana Zuboff does a great job of the former but the absolute and inescapable apocalypse her theory predicts is unconvincing.

The two main concepts in Zuboff’s book are “surveillance capitalism” and “instrumentarian power” or, in less charged terms, the information economy and knowledge as power.

In the spirit of some of the most prominent social
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
As one might guess from the title, this book takes the dimmest possible view of the tech industry as currently constructed. It's a compelling and useful case, even if it overindulges in its own academic jargon and seems at time weirdly unaware of the industry is it comparing to the 21st century version of totalitarianism.

Early in the book, Zuboff makes the important point that surveillance capitalism is not technology, but a business model. It requires technology to exist, but technology
Gary Barnes
Ms Zuboff has a number of outstanding points to make in this weighty tome. Unfortunately she seems to have attempted to do it in Klingon. A 250 page book without the repetitive, dense, unnecessarily high-flown prose would have been perfectly okay. Now this book will go down as a laborious, soul destroying pile of paper. 5 stars for the content, deduct three stars for the writing style.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
The reviews of this book were very positive and the blurb suggested it was just the book I was looking to read. " surveillance capitalism advances from Silicon Valley into every sector of the global economy, she brings its consequences to life".

Unfortunately she doesn't. Over almost 700 pages (including 140 pages of footnotes to highlight the amount of research that has gone into this book) we do not get to see the consequences of living with the always on devices in our homes, on our
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read about this book in one of the Telegram channels, my only enjoyable source of the good news feed (not feel good news, just smth a little bit different and less mainstream) at the moment.
I agree with the channel author (@hobbes_channel) that this book is as important as Capital by Thomas Piketty, and (I might add) flawed in many similar ways as well.
This is a serious study on the ever changing world that we live now. I seem to experience a certain never ending feeling of doom and gloom (
Normally I wouldn't be so bold as to review a book I had read only partially, but looking over the other reviews available so far I am emboldened. I only had this massive book available to me for a short time, so I read the conclusion, which would stand alone as a pamphlet.

The conclusion is basically Ellul's The Technological Society (another massive, and very worthwhile, book), albeit with the course of history narrowed and Ellul's supernatural solution replaced by a humanistic one. I find both
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel

Big data is a word you'll see constantly hitting the media and non fiction sections of your favourite shop, and as the technology grows, so will the capabilities of big data. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff has come out at exactly the right moment, and it should be on your to-read list. This book is a thorough understanding of what is happening, much that isn't televised, or published by journalists. The gateway to our privacy has been open and it's not designed for our
Lance Eaton
First off, I'm aware of the irony in writing and posting this review online through an Amazon product (GoodReads) and a Google product (Blogger) and how in doing so, I am further contributing to the exact problem and concern that Zuboff is offering. But that doesn't matter cause if you are on such a platform, you really need to read this powerful (though massive) book. The central argument is that the move into the digital realm created an opportunity for companies to capture what she refers to ...more
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was really eye-opening, as in I knew this was a problem but did not realize how bad it really is. The book wasn't the easiest read though, because it felt very academic and had a lot of economics and sociology vocabulary (and a lot of repetition, but that's common in nonfiction), so the writing style was difficult for me. The author seems to have been thorough though, and did a good job covering both concrete events and announcements as well as abstracting it all (though the ...more
James Mustich
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Everything you need and—believe me, given the author’s insight into the workings of today’s technology giants—more than you may want to know about the crisis that grips our time. Lucid in both explication and argument (with unexpected chapter epigraphs from W. H. Auden's Sonnets from China).
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“What would hold society together in the absence of the rules and rituals of clan and kin? Durkheim’s answer was the division of labor.” 5 likes
“Two men at Google who do not enjoy the legitimacy of the vote, democratic oversight, or the demands of shareholder governance exercise control over the organization and presentation of the world’s information. One man at Facebook who does not enjoy the legitimacy of the vote, democratic oversight, or the demands of shareholder governance exercises control over an increasingly universal means of social connection along with the information concealed in its networks.” 3 likes
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