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Lurking : How a Person Became a User
by Joanne McNeil




Overview -

One of Esquire's Best Books to Elevate Your Reading List in 2020, , and a OneZero Best Tech Book of 2020. Named one of the 100 Notable books of 2020 by the End of the World Review.

A concise but wide-ranging personal history of the internet from--for the first time--the point of view of the user

In a shockingly short amount of time, the internet has bound people around the world together and torn us apart and changed not just the way we communicate but who we are and who we can be. It has created a new, unprecedented cultural space that we are all a part of--even if we don't participate, that is how we participate--but by which we're continually surprised, betrayed, enriched, befuddled. We have churned through platforms and technologies and in turn been churned by them. And yet, the internet is us and always has been.

In Lurking, Joanne McNeil digs deep and identifies the primary (if sometimes contradictory) concerns of people online: searching, safety, privacy, identity, community, anonymity, and visibility. She charts what it is that brought people online and what keeps us here even as the social equations of digital life--what we're made to trade, knowingly or otherwise, for the benefits of the internet--have shifted radically beneath us. It is a story we are accustomed to hearing as tales of entrepreneurs and visionaries and dynamic and powerful corporations, but there is a more profound, intimate story that hasn't yet been told.

Long one of the most incisive, ferociously intelligent, and widely respected cultural critics online, McNeil here establishes a singular vision of who we are now, tells the stories of how we became us, and helps us start to figure out what we do now.

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More About Lurking by Joanne McNeil

 
 
 

Overview

One of Esquire's Best Books to Elevate Your Reading List in 2020, , and a OneZero Best Tech Book of 2020. Named one of the 100 Notable books of 2020 by the End of the World Review.

A concise but wide-ranging personal history of the internet from--for the first time--the point of view of the user

In a shockingly short amount of time, the internet has bound people around the world together and torn us apart and changed not just the way we communicate but who we are and who we can be. It has created a new, unprecedented cultural space that we are all a part of--even if we don't participate, that is how we participate--but by which we're continually surprised, betrayed, enriched, befuddled. We have churned through platforms and technologies and in turn been churned by them. And yet, the internet is us and always has been.

In Lurking, Joanne McNeil digs deep and identifies the primary (if sometimes contradictory) concerns of people online: searching, safety, privacy, identity, community, anonymity, and visibility. She charts what it is that brought people online and what keeps us here even as the social equations of digital life--what we're made to trade, knowingly or otherwise, for the benefits of the internet--have shifted radically beneath us. It is a story we are accustomed to hearing as tales of entrepreneurs and visionaries and dynamic and powerful corporations, but there is a more profound, intimate story that hasn't yet been told.

Long one of the most incisive, ferociously intelligent, and widely respected cultural critics online, McNeil here establishes a singular vision of who we are now, tells the stories of how we became us, and helps us start to figure out what we do now.


 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374194338
  • ISBN-10: 0374194335
  • Publisher: MCD
  • Publish Date: February 2020
  • Page Count: 304
  • Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.95 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Lurking

The dial tone. The faxlike robot sounds. The promise of instant connection with someone across the country (or with your crush from math class). This is the way the internet began for most of us. 

For O.G. internet users, the potential for human connection, personal learning and technological growth once stretched beyond the horizon. Enter: trolls, the corporate sale of private information, a false sense of connection and myriad other challenges. Joanne McNeil’s Lurking: How a Person Became a User is a thoughtful exploration of the development of technology, online identity and the essential elements of humanness that make it all possible.

True to McNeil’s style, Lurking poses more questions than answers, giving readers a wide berth to wrestle with their own opinions. The book offers seven different lenses through which readers can examine online identity, and it’s structured around seven corresponding chapters, each with a one-word title as the starting point for discussion. 

For example, the first chapter, “Search,” is a meditation on both internet search engines and human longing. It equates search engine history with pennies in a fountain, the result of “wishes people tossed in the well.” This grouping allows McNeil to transcend literal application and makes space for lines such as, “Real people search, but real desire cannot be identified.” Lurking strikes an impressive balance of insider tech-talk and universal human connection, though true techies will have an obvious leg up with the nuances of internet-specific examples. 

The author proposes concrete safeguards for building a better internet, such as online community members acting as “librarians” to protect and archive their content, along with other practical suggestions. Without these practices, McNeil maintains, “the internet remains imperfect, a hell that is fun, ruled by idiots and thieves, providing users with slingshots for self-expression but no shield from the bile that rebounds.”

 

BAM Customer Reviews