I’m a sucker for podcast book recommendations, and you can get no higher authority in this field than the brilliant Adam Buxton.
Adam Buxton is a favourite podcaster of mine. My greatest pleasure of the year is cooking the Christmas turkey with a glass of white wine while listening to Adam’s annual festive podcast. You only have to listen to his Phillip Pullman interview where the clinks and chinks of tea cups and spoons are left in while the author makes tea to understand how homely his audio explusions are.
In this week’s podcast, Adam interviews Professor Shoshana Zuboff, author of books such as The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, In The Age Of The Smart Machine: The Future Of Work And Power and Psychological and organizational implications of computer-mediated work.
Why my interest in this particular interview? Well, in it Shoshana details the encroaching power of social media and its underestimated influence on societies. This is particularly relevant at the moment, with confusion over Russian influence in the 2016 US Presidential election and still unfathomable concerns abuse of data by companies like Cambridge Analytica. Over the last few years, my interests have meandered between World War Two, the Holocaust, the relationship between Ukraine and Russia, to today’s Russian interference in US and European politics. Part of this is the disturbingly powerful abilities of social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, to — purposefully or otherwise — influence not only out purchasing habits but also our politics.
In the podcast, Professor Shoshana, talks about her experience of lightning hitting her house, burning it to the ground and her epiphany that nothing is forever and we are all living on the brink of unseen disaster. She equates her experience to the current climate surrounding social media, in that despite the currently perceived threats, our lack of action is hiding a far more pernicious threat which will show itself.
If you’re at all interested in Big Data, social media, and the steps — or lack thereof — being taken to manage this new attack vector on our democracies, check out her books.
Go and listen to the podcast here, and here’s an Amazon link to her most recent book. And if you’re interested his writing process or novels, Adam’s Phillip Pullman episode is also worth a listen.