Thursday, February 12, 2009

DN: Harry Lewis: “Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion.”

Watch Video Almost everything we now do on a regular basis, from sending emails, taking photographs, writing text messages, calling on our cell phones, downloading music, typing on our computers, and using our credit and ATM cards, all of it generates information. Each bit of this information can be captured, digitized, retrieved, copied, and sent anywhere on earth. In an instant.

And every single day the endless information generated by our ever-expanding digital footprints is recorded, tracked, searched through, sold, analyzed, and saved forever.

Some might call this hyper-networked digital explosion and its potential for collaboration and innovation a kind of utopia.

But others warn that it also raises important concerns about privacy, identity, freedom of expression, accountability, and the future of democracy. They argue that our digitized world might actually be closer to the dystopias imagined in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World or George Orwell"s 1984.

The only difference, as our next guest points out in his latest book, is that unlike the world of Orwell’s 1984, we have “fallen in love with this always-on world” and “accept our loss of privacy in exchange for efficiency, convenience, and small price discounts.”

Harry Lewis, the former dean of Harvard College, is the author along with Hal Abelson and Ken Ledeen of a new book that explains how the digital revolution is changing our world more profoundly than we could ever imagine. Its called “Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion.”

Harry Lewis, professor of computer science at Harvard and the former dean of Harvard College. He is co-author of, “Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness after the Digital Explosion.”

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