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The Blind Giant: Being Human in a Digital World [Kindle Edition]

Nick Harkaway
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

The digital age. An age of isolation, warped communication, disintegrating community. Where unfiltered and unregulated information pours relentlessly into our lives, destroying what it means to be human. Or an age of marvels. Where there is a world of wonder at our fingertips. Where we can communicate across the globe, learn in the blink of an eye, pull down the barriers that divide us and move forward together. Whatever your reaction to technological culture, the speed with which our world is changing is both mesmerising and challenging. In The Blind Giant, novelist and tech blogger Nick Harkaway draws together fascinating and disparate ideas to challenge the notion that digital culture is the source of all our modern ills, while at the same time showing where the dangers are real and suggesting how they can be combated. Ultimately, the choice is ours: engage with the machines that we have created, or risk creating a world which is designed for corporations and computers rather than people. This is an essential handbook for everyone trying to be human in a digital age.

Product Description


'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 is a qualified optimist on new technology and social media' (Independent)

'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' (Guaridan)

Book Description

Being Human in a Digital World.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 407 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1848546416
  • Publisher: John Murray; 1st edition (10 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #272,657 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

What? What can I possibly tell you? I was born in Cornwall. I live in London. I have the best wife imaginable, wonderful kids. My life is presently devoid of those meaningful traumas we're all supposed to believe are the seat of creative energy. I like Italian wine, Swiss skiing, English cheese and Belgian beer, deckled edges, Asian food, and writing. I don't like shellfish. They are yuck. A friend of mine recently told me she can't eat squid any more because squid are sort of charming and friendly, and now I feel guilty about calamari.

I care about things. Random things, unlikely things.

I'm a messy person.

I write on a variety of digital devices of varying antiquity. I like pens and paper, too.

I read widely, not in a very focused way. I retain knowledge in patterns rather than lists.

I really like spa hotels.

I'm not a fan of movies whose central theme is the lack of availability of root crops. This is a surprisingly large genre.

I once accidentally ate my breakfast next to a live tiger.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Blind Giant is Nick Harkaway's first non-fiction book and it is one of the most thought provoking books I have ever read. As its title suggests it deals with the impact of digital technology on humans, both as individuals and groups of all sizes, couples, families, communities, nations, and beyond. It also discusses the choices open to us and makes the point that we are not innocents adrift in a sea of technology, but that we are complicit in the negative consequences of everything we allow to happen. This includes wars in Africa where armed groups clash for control of the mines producing minerals that are essential for the production of virtually all the mobile devices we take for granted in our everyday lives.

But this is no cold treatise containing a lifeless analysis of the mechanics of how modern technology, specifically the Internet, affects us all. It is a hearth-side conversation, probably with a pint of ale to hand, ranging in subject matter from the immediacy of on-line shopping to the toppling of governments in the Middle East.

The book is very up-to-date with inclusion of the social issues surrounding the London riots of 2011 and the Arab Spring that swept away governments in the Middle East, and the role played by the Internet in facilitating both the initiation of these events and the subsequent recovery and stabilization.

Harkaway is inviting debate. In his conversational style he lays out his views and concerns on the disappearance of traditional work rolls and the unintentional consequences of the large, new corporations of the digital age that promote good intentions but, due to their size and reliance on old financial structures, end up doing damage they never intended.

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3.0 out of 5 stars A challenging rea 10 Jun. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A found this book a difficult one to finish, this wasn't because it was at times fascinating, but certainly could never be described as a page turner, if you are up to challenge this book packed full of interesting ideas.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase

Nick Harkaway was asked to write a book about how to be human in the digital age - this is it.

Harkaway's blog has this to say about the book - which in no way could I give a better précis

"It's a slice through a dozen things I think are going on, currents in the general mishmash of the world. There's a discussion of the London riots, the revolutions of the Arab Spring, the nature of deindividuation; there's some brief stuff about the publishing industry and how it's maybe a microcosm of UK politics. It's a huge canvass embracing any number of fields and disciplines of which I am not a master. It is speculative rather than safe, and I already know I've made mistakes. What I hope, though, is that people will embrace the attempt rather than find reasons to decry the inevitable screw-ups: I hope I'm wrong in interesting ways."

It really is very interesting and what's obvious is Nick Harkaway is a very intelligent man who has thought a lot about this stuff. Looking at future possibilities, bleeding edge stuff and technology that is available now and asking interesting questions and making incisive comments. Obviously having read and loved angelmaker and the gone away world I knew he could write fiction but he is just one of those people who knows how to put one word after another in such a way that creates hugely readable text.
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Prattles on for hours 15 May 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After the excitement of Nick's appearance on Radio I bought the book and having got half way through am yet to find anything that is more than prattle. So little is based on fact, so much on hear say. I'm not sure if I have the energy to read it to the end :(
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2 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Listening to the author on BBC Radio 4's "Start the Week" I thought this book sounded fascinating and I'd like to read it - on my Kindle. But the ebook is more expensive than a hardback print copy! Why? Do the publishers want people to read this book or not? This is particularly strange when the book is about how the digital world fits in with our human lives and we're being encouraged to use 15th century technology to read the book. Publishers take note - you need to adjust to the real world and encourage people to read your publications in whatever medium they chose.
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