Tony's Reviews > Digital State: How the Internet is Changing Everything

Digital State by Simon Pont
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's review

did not like it
bookshelves: 2013, tech, reviewed, non-fiction

I need to get better at abandoning books like this more quickly. With a single author I can usually tell quite quickly that there's little point in continuing, but with collections like this I keep thinking that there must be someone coming up Real Soon Now with some insight, or something interesting to say.

Part of the problem, undoubtedly, is that I'm not the target audience. The book is very British attempt[1] not so much to join in the conversation about the impact of technology, but to re-rehearse it to the sort of people for whom the top item in a list of Five Uncomfortable Human Truths needs to be “Life is more important than brands”.

I was particularly disappointed by the chapters that stray out of the advertising/marketing sphere into areas where I have more first-hand knowledge. Christian Johnsen's “Stories into Action — How storytelling and digital platforms will make our world a better place” takes as its premise that great storytelling creates energy for change, and the internet provides a much needed platform for converting that into action. But the bulk of the chapter is given over to key examples (Obama's 2008 campaign, [his own] ThisPlace09, the Egypt Revolution of 2011, and Kony 2012), which at best fall short, and in some cases are primarily cautionary tales about how not to do things. The author acknowledges this at the end by claiming he's really only trying to lay out the beginnings of a framework for how these tools can be used — but in the process he ignores the large numbers of people who have already been doing so at a much deeper level.

This reflects my complaint generally about the whole book: there's very little in it that I haven't already encountered much better elsewhere.

[1] and I mean that in the worst possible way

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Reading Progress

September 5, 2013 – Started Reading
September 5, 2013 – Shelved
September 5, 2013 –
page 11
4.3% "We're living the polar opposite of splendid isolation. We now celebrate the splendour of feeling and being interconnected, 'on the grid' all of the time... where it's unclear whether we are imprisoning or liberating ourselves, and it's likely we're doing both."
September 5, 2013 –
page 18
7.03% "This has been the case throughout the history of futurology. The bias of presentism ensures that the novelty of the future is always underestimated."
September 5, 2013 –
page 21
8.2% "The greatest effect of Twitter has been to bring down cultural latency to almost zero."
September 7, 2013 – Finished Reading
January 5, 2014 – Shelved as: 2013
January 5, 2014 – Shelved as: tech
September 9, 2014 – Shelved as: reviewed
May 23, 2015 – Shelved as: non-fiction

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