Nick Harkaway - 'The Blind Giant: Being Human in a Digital World'

We are affected constantly by what's going on around us. Whether our flexibility is based in neuroplasticity or in less dramatic aspects of the brain, we have to start acknowledging that we are mutable, persuadable and vulnerable to clever distortions, and that very often what we want to be is a matter of constant effort rather than attaining a given state and then forgetting about it. Being human isn't like hanging your hat on a hook and leaving it there, it's like walking in a high wind: you have to keep paying attention. You have to be engaged with the world.

- Nick Harkaway, The Blind Giant: Being Human in a Digital World

In the modern world, the ‘digital world’ is suffering from PR problems – often depicted as a separate, sovereign space, immune from the laws, systems, and schedules of the real world. This mindset leads alternatively to cyber-utopianism – the belief that the internet is an emancipatory platform for the oppressed – or cyber pessismism - the belief that the internet reinforces divisions and is vulnerable to manipulation by powerful moneyed interests.

Novelist and tech blogger Nick Harkaway believes the truth lies somewhere in the middle – challenging the notion that digital culture is the source of all our modern ills, whilst acknowledging the where the dangers are very real. In The Blind Giant: Being Human in a Digital World Harkaway argues that the choice is ours: engage with the machines that we have created, or risk the rise of a world designed for corporations and computers rather than people.

In this talk, Nick Harkaway spoke about his experiences of writing The Blind Giant: Being Human in a Digital World, discussing the differences between writing fiction and non-fiction, the impact digital technology has had on the book world, and the notion of author as brand.

Nick Harkaway is a novelist and technology blogger, his books include The Gone Away World, Angelmaker, and The Blind Giant: Being Human in a Digital World.

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Nick Harkaway

A Festival of Ideas event in partnership with Watershed.

Posted on Tue 15 May 2012.