The smartest person around thinking about the impact of digital technology on global society – the first of the next generation of media philosophers who will shepherd humanity through the changes ahead – Douglas Rushkoff, author of Throwing Rocks at the Google BusPresent Shock and Program or Be Programmed

70,000 words/2019 – World English Language (MIT Press)

70,000 words/2019 – World English Language (MIT Press)

We The Users

A New Deal for All in the Global Digital Age
Ramesh Srinivasan

 A rising voice in the public discourse on technology presents a bold, truly global vision for equality, diversity and justice in our digital age.

Our world today is dominated by commercial forces from a small region along the West Coast of the United States, where the headquarters of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook are situated. These corporations, which dominate retail, hardware, search and social media respectively, have obtained vast amounts of economic, cultural and political power by transforming the data of their users into the oil of the new economy. And as they expand their data-gathering efforts, it is difficult to see how we will live as human beings outside such corporate technology control.

There is a reason these tech giants now dominate the world economy: their products and services – from smartphone apps to one-click shopping, to instant search and worldwide friend networks – are free and efficient. As a result, we experience a surface feeling of freedom. Yet behind it all is the ghost in the machine: the engines that determine why we see what we see, and ceaselessly collect our data, to be bought and sold over and over for vast economic and political gain.

It is time to pull back the curtain on this corporate dominance, argues Ramesh Srinivasan. We must fight for an Internet that respects and supports all the users it claims to connect. We must take community back online. Just as the Internet has changed in the past two decades, it too can change in the decades to come. But this will require more than the ad-hoc developments and decisions of the Internet’s founding era. We need a concerted movement, a broad social contract that involves government legislation, corporate cooperation and increased individual awareness to shift the Internet – and the vast host of networked devices that makes up our world – in a healthier, more just direction. In essence, we need a New Deal for our digital age: one that empowers labour, educates users and embraces community.

The New Deal that Srinivasan proposes in this book is not purely philosophical, technical, design-oriented or policy-based. Instead it brings together all these facets to shape a unified digital future based on principles of equity, diversity and justice.