Skip to main content

Full text of "Digital Vertigo"

See other formats

"Andrew Keen has found the off switch for Silicon Valley's reality-distortion field. 
With a cold eye and a cutting wit, he reveals the grandiose claims of our new digital 
plutocrats to be little more than self-serving cant. Digital Vertigo provides a timely and 
welcome reminder that having substance is more important than being transparent." 
-Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains 


how today's 
online social revolution 
is dividing, diminishing, 
and disorienting us 


andrew keen, author of the cult of the amateur 


'Digital Vertigo provides an articulate, measured, 

rian voice against a sea of hype about nnedia. As an avowed technology optii..._ 

-Larry Downes, author of 

ishina the Killer 

does mark zuckerberg know 

A/hv are we al 

details of their lives 

and Google+ 
exposes the 

? In Digital Vertigo, Andrew Keen 
atest Silicon Valley mania: today's 
cr^r-ia| networking revolution 

online start-up, he reveals— from commerce to 
communications to entertainment-is now going 
social in a transformation called "Web 3.0." 

■ ■ ^hat he calls this "cult of the socii 

i jeopardizing both our individual privacy and 
liberty. Using one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest 
films. Vertigo, as his starting point, he argues 
that social media, with its generation of massive 

mounts of personal data, is encouraging us to 
fall in love with something that is too good to be 
true-a radically transparent twenty-first-century 
society in which we can all supposedly realize oi"- 

luthentic identities on the Internet. 

Digital Vertigo is the first substantial critique 
jf Web 3.0. Written with Keen's trademark humor 
and erudition, Digital Vertigo will make anyone 
who has ever questioned the purpose of Facebook 
or Twitter think more deeply about a social 

networking world in which, for better or worse, 

we are all now enmeshed. 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 




The Cult of the AmoJeur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture 

J" \ 






DIGITAL VERTIGO. Copyright © 2012 by Andrew Keen. All rights reserved. Printed in the United 
States of America. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 

Design by Omar Chapa 

ISBN 978-0-312-62498-9 (hardcover) 
ISBN 978-1-4299-4096-2 (e-book) 

First Edition: May 2012 

10 987654321 











8. THE BEST PICTURE OF 2011 161 
ENDNOTES 195 ^^ 

INDEX 233 

Hello hello/I'm at a place called Vertigo/It's everything I wish I didn't know 

— U2, "Vertigo" (2004) 

On one occasion she asked if I was a journalist or writer. When I said that neither 
the one nor the other was quite right, she asked what it was that I was working on, to 
which I replied that I did not know for certain myself, but had a growing suspicion 
that it might turn into a crime story . . . ^ — W. G. Sebald, Vertigo (1990) 

One final thing I have to do and then I'll be free of the past One doesn't often get 

a second chance. I want to stop being haunted. You're my second chance, Judy, 
You're my second chance. — Alec Coppel and Samuel A. Taylor, Vertigo (1958) 



@alexia: We would have lived our lives differently if we had known 
they would one day be searchable. ' 

A Man Who Is His Own Image 

Alfred Hitchcock, who always referred to movies as "pictures," once said that 
behind every good picture lay a great corpse. Hitchcock, an old master at 
resurrecting the dead in pictures like Vertigo, his creepy 1958 movie about a 
man's love affair with a corpse, was right. The truth is a great corpse makes 
such a ^006. picture that it can even help bring a nonfiction book like this to 

Behind this book sits the most visible corpse of the nineteenth century — 
the body of the utilitarian philosopher, social reformer and prison architect 
Jeremy Bentham, a cadaver that has been living in public since his death in 
June 1832.^ Seeking to immortalize his own reputation as what he called 
a "benefactor of the human race," Bentham bequeathed both his body and 
"Dapple," his favorite walking stick, to London's University College and 
instructed that they should be permanently exhibited inside a glass-fronted 
wooden coffin he coined an "Auto-Icon" — a neologism meaning "a man 
who is his own image."^ 

His greed for attention is today on permanent exhibition inside a public 
coffin whose size, Brave New World author Aldous Huxley once estimated, 


is larger than a telephone booth but smaller than an outdoor toilet.'* Today, 
he and Dapple now sit in a corridor in the South Cloisters of University 
College's main Bloomsbury building on Gower Street, strategically situated 
so that they can be observed by all passing traffic on this bustling metro- 
politan campus. Bentham, who believed himself to be "the most effectively 
benevolent" person who ever lived,^ is now therefore never alone. He has, so 
to speak, eliminated his own loneliness. 

The idea behind this book first came to life in that London corridor. 
There I serendipitously found myself one recent drizzly November afternoon, 
a Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry smartphone^ in one hand and a 
Canon digital camera'^ in the other, looking at the Auto-Icon. But the longer 
I stared at the creepy Jeremy Bentham imprisoned inside his fame machine, 
the more I suspected that our identities had, in fact, merged. You see, like 
the solitary utilitarian who'd been on public display throughout the indus- 
trial age, I'd become little more than a corpse on perpetual display in a trans- 
parent box. 

Yes, like Jeremy Bentham, I'd gone somewhere else entirely. I was in a 
place called social media, that permanent self-exhibition zone of our new 
digital age where, via my BlackBerry Bold and the other more than 5 billion 
devices now in our hands, ^ we are collectively publishing mankind's group 
portrait in motion. This place is built upon a network of increasingly intelli- 
gent and mobile electronic products that are connecting everyone on the 
planet through services like Facebook, Twitter, Google -I-, and Linkedln. 
Rather than virtual or second life, social media is actually becoming life 
itself— the central and increasingly transparent stage of human existence, 
what Silicon Valley venture capitalists are now calling an "internet of people."^ 
As the fictionalized version of Facebook president Sean Parker — played 
with such panache by Justin Timberlake — predicted in the 2010 Oscar- 
nominated movie The Social Network-. "We lived in farms, then we lived 
in cities, and now we're gonna live on the Internet!" Social media is, thus, 


like home; it is the architecture in which we now live. There is even a 
community newspaper called The Daily Dot that is the paper of record 
for the Wch}^ 

Crouching in front of the mahogany Auto-Icon, I adjusted the lens of my 
camera upon Bentham, zooming in so that I could intimately inspect his 
beady eyes, the wide brimmed tan hat covering his shoulder length gray 
hair, the white ruffled shirt and black rustic jacket clothing his dissected 
torso, and Dapple resting in his gloved hand. Shifting my camera toward his 
waxen face, I looked the dead Englishman as closely in the eye as my prying 
technology would allow. I was searching for the private man behind the 
public corpse. What, I wanted to know, had led "The Hermit of Queen's 
Square Place,"^^ as Bentham liked to call himself, best known for his "great- 
est happiness principle" that human beings are defined by their desire to 
maximize their pleasure and minimize their pain,^^ to prefer the eternal 
glare of public exposure over the everlasting privacy of the grave? 

In my other hand I held my BlackBerry Bold, RIM's pocket-sized device 
that, by broadcasting my location, my observations and my intentions to my 
electronic network, enabled me to perpetually live in public. My social me- 
dia obligations nagged at me. As a Silicon Valley based networker, my job — 
both then and now — is grabbing other people's attention on Twitter and 
Facebook so that I can become ubiquitous. I am an influencer, a wannabe 
Jeremy Bentham — what futurists call a "Super Node" — the vanguard of the 
workforce that, they predict, will increasingly come to dominate the twenty- 
first-century digital economy.^^ So that afternoon, like every afternoon in my 
reputation-building life, I really needed to be the picture on everyone's screen. 

Not that anyone, either on or ofTmy social network, knew my exact loca- 
tion that November afternoon. I happened to be in central London for a few 
hours, in transit between one social media conference in Oxford that had 
just finished and another that would begin the following afternoon in Am- 
sterdam, near the Rijksmuseum, the art museum that houses many of the 


most timeless pictures of the human condition by Dutch seventeenth-century 
artists Uke Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn. 

But, in London, my interest lay in the living metropolis, what the Anglo- 
American writer Jonathan Raban calls the "soft city" of permanent personal 
reinvention, rather than in pictures by dead artists. It was my day off from 
the glare of public speaking, my opportunity to briefly escape from society 
and be left alone in a city where I'd been born and educated but no longer 
lived. As the nineteenth-century German sociologist Georg Simmel wrote, 
the city "grants to the individual a kind and an amount of personal freedom 
which has no analogy whatever under any other conditions." ^"^ My illegibil- 
ity that afternoon thus represented my liberty. Freedom meant nobody 
knowing exactly where I was. 

"To live in a city is to live in a community of people who are strangers to 
each other,"^^ writes Raban about the freedom of living in a large city. And 
I'd certainly spent that chilly November afternoon as a stranger lost amidst 
a community of disconnected strangers, zigzagging through London's crooked 
streets, hopping on and off buses and trains, stopping here and there to re- 
explore familiar places, reminding myself about how the city had imprinted 
itself on my personality. 

Eventually, as so often one does while wandering through London, I hap- 
pened to find myself in the Bloomsbury neighborhood where, some thirty 
years earlier, I had attended university as a student of modern history. There, 
I strolled through Senate House — the forbiddingly monolithic building 
which had housed my college and which was the model, it is said, for George 
Orwell's Ministry of Truth in Nineteen Eighty-four^^ — before wandering 
up Gower Street toward Jeremy Bentham's corpse in University College. 


I had come to London that morning from Oxford, where I'd spent the pre- 
vious few days at a conference entitled "Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford." 


This was an event organized by the university's Said Business School in 
which Silicon Valley's most influential entrepreneurs had come to the closed, 
haunted city of Oxford to celebrate the openness and transparency of social 
life in the twenty-first century. 

At Oxford, I'd debated Reid Hoffman, the multibillionaire founder of 
Linkedin and Silicon Valley's most prodigious progenitor of online net- 
works, a brilliant social media visionary known as @quixotic to his Twitter 
followers. "When I graduated from Stanford my plan was to become a pro- 
fessor and public intellectual," Hoffman once confessed. "That is not about 
quoting Kant. It's about holding up a lens to society and asking who are 
we?' and who should we be, as individuals and a society?' But I realised aca- 
demics write books that 50 or 60 people read and I wanted more impact."^^ 

To get more impact, Reid Hoffman dramatically magnified the lens with 
which we look at society. Instead of writing books for fifty or sixty people, he 
created a social network for 100 million people that is now growing by a mil- 
lion new members every ten days.^^ Today, a new person joins Linkedin every 
second^^ — meaning that in the time it's taken you to read this paragraph, 
@quixotic has had an impact on another 50 or 60 people around the world. 

No, a Don Quixote tilting at windmills he certainly isn't. Indeed, if social 
media — what @quixotic has dubbed "Web 3.0"^^ — has a founding father, it 
might be Hoffman, the suitably cherubic looking early-stage "angel" inves- 
tor who San Francisco Magazine identified as one of Silicon Valley's most 
powerful "archangels,"^^ Forbes ranked third in their 2011 Midas List^^ of 
the world's most successful technology investors. The Wall Street Journal 
described as "the most connected person in Silicon Valley"^^ and The New 
York Times crowned, in November 2011, as the "king of connections."^"* 

The Oxford- and Stanford-educated entrepreneur, now a partner in the 
venture capital firm of Greylock Partners and a multibillionaire both in terms 
of his dollar net worth and his global network of business and political rela- 
tionships, saw the social future before almost anyone else.^^ "Looking back 


on my life I've come to realize that what I am most driven by is building, 
designing and improving human ecosystems," Hoffman confessed in Janu- 
ary 2011.^^ And, as an architect of "prime human ecosystem" real estate for 
the twenty-first century, @quixotic has become one of the wealthiest and 
most powerful men on earth. Grasping the Internet's shift from a platform 
for data to one for real people, Hoffman not only started the very first con- 
temporary social media business back in 1997 — a dating service called 
SocialNet — but also was an angel investor in Friendster and Facebook as 
well as the founder, the original CEO and the current Executive Chairman 
of Linkedin, America's second most highly trafficked social network^^ 
whose May 201 1 initial public offering was, at the time, the largest technol- 
ogy IPO since Google's in 2004.^^ 

"The future is always sooner and stranger than you think," Hoffman, who 
became an overnight multibillionaire after Linkedln's meteoric IPO, once 
remarked.^^ But even (2)quixotic, back in 1997 when he founded SocialNet, 
couldn't have quite imagined how quickly he would come to own that fu- 
ture. You see, six years later, in 2003, Hoffman — in partnership with his 
friend Mark Pincus, another Silicon Valley based social media pioneer who 
cofounded and is now the CEO of the multibillion-doUar gaming 
network Zynga^^ — paid $700,000 in auction for an intellectual patent on 
social networking, thereby making this plutocratic polymath the co-owner, 
in a sense, of the future itself 

The formal subject of my Oxford debate with Hoffman had been 
whether social media communities would replace the nation-state as the 
source of personal identity in the twenty-first century. But the real heart of 
our conversation — indeed, the central theme of the whole "Silicon Valley 
Comes to Oxford" event — had been the question of whether digital man 
would be more socially connected than his industrial ancestor. In contrast 
with my own ambivalence about the social benefits of the virtual world, 
Hoffman dreamt openly about the potential of today's networking revolu- 


tion to bring us together. The shift from a society built upon atoms to one 
built upon bytes, the archangel publicly insisted at our Oxford debate, would 
make us more connected and thus more socially united as human beings. 

In private, the affable, and I have to admit, the very likeable Hoffman 
was equally committed to this social ideal. "But what about people who 
don't want to be on the network?" I asked him as we ate breakfast together 
on the morning of our debate. 


"Let's face it, Reid, some people just don't want to be connected." 

"Don't want to he connected^' the billionaire muttered under his breath. 
Such was the incredulity clouding his cherubic face that, for a moment, I 
feared I had ruined his breakfast of grilled kippers and scrambled eggs. 

"Yes," I confirmed. "Some people simply want to be let alone." 

I have to confess that my point lacked originality. I was simply repeating 
the concerns of privacy advocates like the legal scholars Samuel Warren and 
Louis Brandeis who, in 1890, wrote their now timeless "The Right to Pri- 
vacy" Harvard Law Review article which, in reaction to the then nascent 
mass media technologies of photography and newspapers, had defined pri- 
vacy as "the right of the individual to be let alone." ^' 

It may have been a recycled nineteenth-century remark, but at least I'd 
expressed it in a recycled nineteenth-century environment. Reid Hoffman 
and I were eating our kippers and eggs in the basement "Destination Bras- 
serie" of Oxford's Malmaison hotel, once a nineteenth-century prison built 
by a disciple of Jeremy Bentham's architectural theories about surveillance 
and now reinvented as a chic twenty-first-century hotel distinguished by its 
cell-style bedrooms that featured the original caste iron doors and bars of 
the old house of correction. ^^ 

"After all, Reid," I added, as I glanced around the prison's former solitary 
confinement cells that were now dotted with individual diners, "some people 
prefer solitude to connectivity." 


(2)quixotic finished a mouthful of eggs and fish before countering with 
some recycled wisdom of his own. But whereas I'd quoted a couple of 
nineteenth-century American legal scholars, Hoffman — who, as a Marshall 
Scholar at Oxford during the eighties, had earned a masters degree in 
philosophy — went back even further in history, back to the ancient Greeks 
of the fifi:h century B.C., to Aristotle, the founding father of communitari- 
anism and the most influential philosopher of the medieval period. 

"You have to remember," @quixotic said, borrowing some very familiar 
words from Aristotle's Politics, "that man is, by nature, a social animal."^^ 

The Future Will Be Social 

Reid Hoffman certainly hadn't been alone in recycling this pre-modern 
faith that the social is hardwired into all of us. All the Silicon Valley 
grandees who came to Oxford and who, like Hoffman and I, were staying 
in the reinvented prison — Internet moguls like Twitter co-founder Biz 
Stone, heavyweight investor Chris Sacca,^'^ Second Life founder Philip 
Rosedale, and the technology journalist Mike Malone, the so-called "Bo- 
swell of Silicon Valley" — had embraced this same Aristotelian ideal of our 
natural sociability. But whereas these architects of our social future 
seemed to possess all the answers about this connected future, my mind 
was filled only with questions about where we were going and how we would 
get there. 

"So, Biz, what exactly is the future?"^^ I had asked Stone one evening as, 
by chance, we found ourselves next to one another in the crowded and noisy 
old dining hall of Balliol College, the Oxford College founded in 1263 by 
John Balliol, one of the most visible men of medieval England, a feudal land- 
owner so powerful that he had his own private army of several thousand 
loyal followers. 

This was no idle question. Given his significant ownership stake in Twit- 
ter, Biz Stone — who, as @biz, has almost 2 million loyal followers in his 


network — is one of the most powerful virtual landowners of our age, a veri- 
table John Balliol of the twenty- first century, an information baron who 
knows everything about all of us. 

"Biz not only knows what everyone is thinking," Jerry Sanders, the CEO 
of San Francisco Scientific said of Stone at Oxford during a Union debate 
about whether we should trust entrepreneurs with our future, "but also 
where it is that they are thinking what they are thinking."^^ 

I thus valued Stone's opinion. If anybody could see the future, it was this 
all-knowing Silicon Valley magnate, the co-founder of the ever-expanding 
short-messaging social network which, with its multibillion valuation^'^ and 
its more than two hundred million registered users sending more than 140 
million tweets each day,^^ is revolutionizing the architecture of twenty- 
first-century communications. 

Stone — a lifelong social media evangelist and author^^ who, in addition 
to his current daytime gig as a venture capitalist,'^^ moonlights for his friend 
Arianna Huffington as AOL's Strategic Advisor for Social Impact"^^ — leant 
toward me so that I could hear him above the conversational chatter on the 
communal wooden benches. "The future," @biz said, sharing his thought 
with Twitter-like brevity. "The future will be social." 

"The killer app, eh?" I replied, trying — not very effectively, I suspect — to 
emulate both his terseness and profundity. 

Stone, a cheeky-looking chappie with chunky black glasses and a geeky 
mop of hair, grinned. But even this grin was ail-knowingly brief "That's 
right," he confirmed. "The social will be the killer app of the twenty-first 

Biz Stone was correct. At Oxford, I had come to understand that the 
social — which meant the sharing of our personal information, our location, 
our taste and our identities on Internet networks like Twitter, Linkedin, 
Google -f and Facebook — was the Internet's newest new thing. Every new 
social platform, social service, social app, social page, I learnt, was becoming a 


piece of this new social media world — from i^fd^/ journalism to social entre- 
preneurship to social commerce to social production to social learning to so- 
aW charity to social c-n\z\\ to i^aW gaming to social csipita.\ to 5<?ai^/ television 
to social consumption to social consumers on the "social graph," an algo- 
rithm that supposedly maps out each of our unique social networks. And 
given that the Internet was becoming the connective tissue of twenty-first- 
century life, the future — our future, yours and mine and everyone else on 
the ubiquitous network — would, therefore, be, yes you guessed it, social. 

But as I stood alone in that bustling London corridor gaping at the dead 
Jeremy Bentham, the truth was that I felt anything but social — especially 
with this nineteenth-century corpse. In my eagerness to inspect the de- 
ceased social reformer, I'd gotten so close to the Auto-Icon that I was almost 
touching its glass front. Yet Bentham's great exhibitionism remained a mys- 
tery to me. I just couldn't figure out why he would want to be seen by a 
never-ending procession of strangers, all peering into his beady eyes to exca- 
vate the human being behind the corpse. 

I was searching for wisdom from old Jeremy Bentham, some special in- 
sight that would illuminate the human condition for me. Yes, the likeness of 
the Auto-Icon to the real Bentham was genuine — a similarity his friend 
Lord Brougham described as "so perfect that it seems as if alive.'"*^ And yet 
the harder I stared at his corpse, the less I could see of what made him human. 

From my days as a student of modern history, I remembered John Stuart 
Mill's dismissive remarks about the utilitarian philosopher. "Bentham's 
knowledge of human nature is bounded," wrote Mill, Bentham's legal 
guardian^^ and greatest acolyte, who later became his most acute critic. "It is 
wholly empirical, and the empiricism of one who has had little experience."^'^ 

John Stuart Mill, England's most influential thinker of the nineteenth 
century, thought of Bentham as a sort of human computer, able to add up 
our appetites and fears but incapable of grasping anything beyond the strictly 
empirical about what makes us human. "How much of human nature slum- 


bered in him he knew not, neither can we know," Mill — who popularized 
the word "utilitarian'"^^ — wrote of his former mentor. The problem with 
Bentham, Mill recognized, was that, as somebody who was deficient in both 
the imagination and experience required to grasp the human condition, "he 
was a boy to the last.'"^^ 

So if the boy Bentham couldn't teach me about human nature, I won- 
dered, then who could? 

I Update, Therefore I Am 

It occurred to me that the corpse might make more human sense after I'd 
expressed myself about it on Biz Stone's Twitter where, as @ajkeen, I had a 
following of several thousand followers. Squeezing the rectangular Black- 
Berry between my fingers, I wondered how to socially produce my confusion 
about Bentham in under 140 characters. Turning away from the Auto-Icon, 
I noticed that the University College corridor was thronged with students 
walking to and from their afternoon classes. As I watched this procession of 
strangers trooping across the Bloomsbury campus, I saw that some of them 
were glancing at me queerly, perhaps in a similarly foreign way to how I was 
peering at Bentham's corpse. What impression, I wondered, did these stu- 
dents have of me — this globally networked yet entirely solitary stranger from 
another continent, determinedly anonymous in the metropolis, gazing with 
a detached intimacy at a pre-Victorian corpse. 

My confusion about the dead social reformer drifted into a confusion 
about my own identity. Instead of contemplating Bentham's exhibitionism, 
I began to consider my own personality in the order of things. How, I won- 
dered, could I prove my own existence to my prized army of followers on 
Twitter, the vast majority of whom neither knew nor would ever know me? 

Rather than using Twitter to broadcast my thoughts about the Auto- 
Icon or to confess what I'd had for breakfast that day (grilled kippers 
again — eaten at the chic Oxford prison) or to tell the world about my plans 


lo look at the pictures in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum the following day, 
I went all Cartesian on my global audience. 

I UPDATE, THEREFORE I AM, I thumbed onto "Tweetie," an ap- 
plication on my BlackBerry Bold that enabled me to send a tweet anytime 
from anywhere. 

These twenty-four characters of digital wisdom blinked back at me from 
the screen, impatient, it seemed, to be pushed out onto the network for the 
world to see. But my thumb hovered over the BlackBerry 's send button. I 
wasn't ready to publish this private thought out onto the public network. 
Not yet anyway. I glanced down at my screen once again. 


If these words were really true, I asked myself, then what? Would the entire 
world, all eight billion human beings, have to migrate — like settlers in a 
promised social media land — onto this new central nervous system of soci- 
ety? What, I wondered, would be the fate of our identities when we all lived 
without secrets, fully transparent, completely in public, within the social ar- 
chitecture that Reid Hoffman and Biz Stone were building for the rest of 
humanity? I looked again at the dead Bentham, the utilitarian father of the 
greatest-happiness principle. Would this electronically networked society 
result in more happiness? I contemplated. Would it lead to the improvement 
of the human condition? Would it enrich our personalities? Could it create 
man in his own image? 

Questions, questions, questions. My mind drifted to the unwired, to 
those unwilling or unable to live in public. The thought triggered a feeling 
of dizziness, as if the external world had speeded up and was now revolving 
quicker and quicker around me. If, as the fictional Sean Parker argues in The 
Social Network., our future will be lived online, I thought to myself, then 
what will be the fate of these dissenters, of those who don't update? What, 


I wondered, in a world in which we all exist on the Internet, will become of 
those who protect their privacy, who pride themselves on their illegibility, 
who — in the timeless words of Brandeis and Warren — just want to be let 

Will they be alive, I wondered, or will they be dead? 

The Living and the Dead 

My tweet still unsent, I continued to gaze into the Auto-Icon for enlighten- 
ment. As the picture became clearer and clearer, my dizziness intensified 
and the room began to spin around me with more and more violence. Yes, I 
now saw, Bentham's corpse did, after all, have something to teach me. The 
true picture of the future, I realized, had been staring me straight in the face 
all along. 

In spite of my own feeling of vertigo, this vision — a painful kind of 
epiphany — grabbed me with an icy clarity. I froze momentarily, my mouth 
half open, my eyes fixed on the corpse. It suddenly became clear that I'd been 
peering into a mirror. Reid Hoffman was right: the future is always sooner 
and stranger than anyone of us think. I realized that the Auto-Icon, this 
"man who is his own image," represents this future and Bentham's corpse is 
actually you, me and everyone else who have imprisoned themselves in to- 
day's digital inspection house. 

What I glimpsed that late November afternoon in Bloomsbury was the 
anti-social ^utuvc, the loneliness of the isolated man in the connected crowd. 
I saw all of us as digital Jeremy Benthams, isolated from one another not 
only by the growing ubiquity of networked communications, but also by the 
increasingly individualized and competitive nature of twenty-first-century 
life. Yes, this was the future. Personal visibility, I recognized, is the new sym- 
bol of status and power in our digital age. Like the corpse locked in his trans- 
parent tomb, we are now all on permanent exhibition, all just images of 
ourselves in this brave new transparent world. 


Like the immodest nineteenth-century social reformer locked in his 
eternal wooden and glass box, we twenty-first-century social networkers — 
especially aspiring super nodes like myself — are becoming addicted to 
building attention and reputation. But like the solitariness of my own expe- 
rience in that University College corridor, the truth, the reality of social 
media, is an architecture of human isolation rather than community. The 
future will be anything but social, I realized. That's the real killer app of the 
networked age. 

We are, I realized, becoming schizophrenic — simultaneously detached 
from the world and yet jarringly ubiquitous. Cultural critics like Umberto 
Eco and Jean Baudrillard have used the word "hyperreality" to describe how 
modern technology blurs the distinction between reality and unreality and 
grants authenticity to self-evidently fake things like William Randolph 
Hearst's castle in San Simeon, the gothic building on the Californian coast 
made famous by Orson Wells's 1941 picture Citizen Kane. Eco defines hyper- 
reality as "a philosophy of immortality as duplication" where "the completely 
r^/«/ becomes identified with the completely fake!"^^ 

"Absolute unreality is offered as real presence," Eco thus explains hyperreal- 
ity. But as I gazed at the Auto-Icon, an equally absurd neologism came to mind: 
"hypervisibility." The man who is his own image in the digitally networked 
world, I realized, is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere, and the more 
completely visible he appears, the more completely invisible he actually is. 


In this fully transparent world where we are simultaneously nowhere and 
everywhere, absolute unreality is real presence, and the completely fake is 
also the completely real. This, I saw, was the most truthfully untruthful pic- 
ture of networked twenty-first-century life. 

Now I was ready to broadcast my tweet. Yet before pressing send, I added 
a word to the short message still blinking on my BlackBerry. It was a single 
word, just three characters out of Twitter's 140-character limit, but it trans- 


formed the tweet from a hopeful expression of digital cartesianism into a 
chillingly existential plea. 


But the RIM electronic device wasn't called a smartphone for nothing. I had 
been wrong that nobody knew my location that afternoon. As I was about to 
send my tweet, an uninvited message from Tweetie popped up on the screen. 
It was a request to give out my Bloomsbury location, so that the app could 
broadcast where I was to my thousands of Twitter followers. 


The BlackBerry device, I realized, wanted to betray me by broadcasting 
my location to the world. No wonder it was made by Research in Motion. 
Switching off the smartphone and shoving it deep into my trouser pocket, I 
took a deep breath, then another. The silence was symphonic. As my dizzi- 
ness retreated, I thought again about my conversations in Oxford the previ- 
ous day with @quixotic, the co-owner of our collective future. I realized 
that he had been both right and wrong about the future. Yes, there is no 
doubt that, for better or worse, nineteenth- and twentieth-century indus- 
trial atoms are now being replaced by twenty-first-century networked bytes. 
But no, rather than uniting us between the digital pillars of an Aristotelian 
polls, today's social media is actually splintering our identities so that we al- 
ways exist outside ourselves, unable to concentrate on the here-and-now, too 
wedded to our own image, perpetually revealing our current location, our 
privacy sacrificed to the utilitarian tyranny of a collective network. 

History, I realized, was repeating itself In 1890, nearly sixty years afi:er 
Jeremy Bentham's body first made its public appearance in University 


College, Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis argued in their iconic Harvard 
Law Review article that "solitude and privacy have become more essential to 
the individual." The right to be let alone, Warren and Brandeis wrote in "De- 
fense of Privacy," was a "general right to the immunity of the person . . . the 
right to one's personality." And today, at the dawn of our increasingly trans- 
parent social media age, more than a century after the law review article first 
appeared, this need for solitude and privacy — the primary ingredients in the 
mysterious formation of individual personality — has, if anything, become 
even more essential. 

Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock's creepy picture about a man's love for a corpse, 
was based upon the French novel The Living and the Dead}^ But there is 
nothing fictional about today's creeping auto-iconization of life and its tragic 
consequence — the death of privacy and solitude in our social networking 
world. It was Hitchcock, I think, who once joked that the corpse he most 
feared seeing was his own. Yet it's no joke if that corpse also happens to be the 
corpse of mankind, exiled not only from himself, but also from everyone else, 
billions of people who are their own images whizzing faster and faster around 
each other on the transparent network, hypervisible, all perpetually on show, 
imprisoned in an endless loop of great exhibitionism, greedy for attention, 
building their self-proclaimed reputations as benefactors of the human race. 

For Jeremy Bentham and his utilitarian school, happiness is a mathemati- 
cal equation simply quantifiable by substracting our pain from our pleasures. 
But this utilitarian philosophy — so savagely satirized by Charles Dickens in 
the ridiculous form of Mr. Gradgrind in Hard Times — fails to grasp what 
makes us human. As Dickens, John Stuart Mill and many more contempo- 
rary critics of utilitarianism have argued, happiness isn't simply an algorithm 
of our appetites and desires. And central to that happiness is the unquantifi- 
able right to be let alone by society — a right which enables us, as human beings, 
to remain true to ourselves. "Privacy is not only essential to life and liberty; 
it's essential to the pursuit of happiness, in the broadest and deepest sense. 


We human beings are not just social creatures; we're also private creatures." 
Thus argues Nicholas Carr, one of today's most articulate critics of digital 
utilitarianism. "What we don't share is as important as what we do share.'"^^ 

Unfortunately, however, sharing has become the new Silicon Valley reli- 
gion and, as we shall see in this book, privacy — that condition essential to 
our real happiness as human beings — is being dumped into the dustbin 
of history. "Fail fast," @quixotic, who believes that privacy is "primarily an 
issue for old people,"^^ advises entrepreneurs. "You jump off a cliff and you 
assemble an airplane on the way down," is his description for what it's like to 
do a start-up.^ ^ But the problem is that, by so radically socializing today's 
digital revolution, we are, as a species, collectively jumping offa cliff. And if 
we fail to build a networked society that protects the rights to individual 
privacy and autonomy in the face of today's cult of the social, we can't — like 
the eternally optimistic Hoffman — launch a new company. Society isn't just 
another start-up — which is why we can't entirely trust Silicon Valley entre- 
preneurs like Hoffman or Stone with our future. Failing to properly assem- 
ble the social media airplane after jumping off that clifFand crashing to the 
ground means jeopardizing those precious rights to individual privacy, se- 
crecy and, yes, the liberty that individuals have won over the last millen- 

That is the fear, the warning of failure and collective self-destruction in 
Digital Vertigo. In 2007 I published Cult of the Amateur, my warning about 
the impact of Web 2.0's user-generated data revolution upon our culture. But 
as we go from the Web 2.0 of Google, YouTube and Wikipedia to the Web 
3.0 of Facebook, Twitter, Google -I- and Linkedin, and as the Internet be- 
comes a platform for what @quixotic describes as "real identities generating 
massive amounts of data,"^^ the story that you are about to read reveals an 
even more disturbing mania: today's creeping tyranny of an ever-increasingly 
transparent social network that threatens the individual liberty, the happi- 
ness and, yes, perhaps even the very personality of contemporary man. 


You have two options about this cult: DON'T ALLOW or OK. 

The book you are about to read is a defense of the mystery and secrecy of 
individual existence. It is a reminder of the right to privacy, autonomy and 
solitude in a world that, by 2020, will contain around 50 billion intelligent 
networked devices^^ such as my BlackBerry Bold with its all-too-intelligent 
apps. In a world in which almost every single human being on the planet is 
likely to be connected by the middle of the twenty-first century, this book is 
an argument against the radical sharing, openness, personal transparency, 
great exhibitionism and the other pious communitarian orthodoxies of our 
networked age. But this book is more than simply an antisocial manifesto. 
It's also an investigation into why, as human beings, privacy and solitude 
makes us happy. 

Yes, you've seen this kind of picture before too. It's a challenge to Reid 
Hoffman's mistaken assumption that we are all, a priori, social animals. And 
to begin our journey into this all-too-familiar future where the unknowable 
mystery of the individual human condition is being overwritten by transpar- 
ent man, let's return to Jeremy Bentham, that eternal prisoner of his own 
Auto-Icon, whose late eighteenth-century "simple idea of architecture" to 
reform the world is, I'm afraid, an eerily prescient warning of our collectively 
open twenty-first-century fate. 


"Morals reformed — health preserved — industry invigorated instruction diffused — public 

burdens lightened — Economy seated, as it were, upon a rock — the gordian knot of the 

Poor-Laws are not cut, but untied — all by a simple idea in Architecture. "^ 


The Inspection-House 

If this was a picture, you'd have seen it before. History, you see, is repeating 
itself With our new digital century comes a familiar problem from the in- 
dustrial age. A social tyranny is once again encroaching upon individual 
liberty. Today, in the early twenty-first century, just as in the nineteenth and 
twentieth centuries, this social threat comes from a simple idea in architec- 

In 1787, at the dawn of the mass industrial age, Jeremy Bentham designed 
what he called a "simple idea in architecture" to improve the management of 
prisons, hospitals, schools and factories. Bentham's idea was, as the architec- 
tural historian Robin Evans noted, a "vividly imaginative" synthesis of archi- 
tectural form with social purpose.^ Bentham, who amassed great personal 
wealth as a result of his social vision,^ wanted to change the world through 
this new architecture. 

Bentham sketched out this vision of what Aldous Huxley described as a 
"plan for a totalitarian housing project""^ in a series of "open"^ letters written 
from the little Crimean town of Krichev, where he and his brother, Samuel, 


were instructing the regime of the enhghtened Russian despot Catherine 
the Great about the building of efficient factories for its unruly population.^ 
In these public letters, Bentham imagined what he called this "Panopticon" 
or "Inspection-House" as a physical network, a circular building of small 
rooms, each transparent and fully connected, in which individuals could be 
watched over by an all-seeing inspector. This inspector is the utilitarian ver- 
sion of an omniscient god — always-on, all-knowing, with the serendipitous 
ability to look around corners and see through walls. As the French histo- 
rian Michel Foucault observed, this Inspection House was "like so many 
cages, so many small theaters, in which each actor is alone, perfectly indi- 
vidualized and constantly visible."^ 

The Panopticon's connective technology would bring us together by sep- 
arating us, Bentham calculated. Transforming us into fully transparent 
exhibits would be good for both society and the individual, he adduced, be- 
cause the more we imagined we were being watched, the more efficient and 
disciplined we would each become. Both the individual and the community 
would, therefore, benefit from this network of Auto-Icons. "Ideal perfec- 
tion," the utilitarian figured, taking this supposedly social idea to its most 
chillingly anti-social conclusion, would require that everyone — from con- 
nected prisoners to connected workers to connected school children to con- 
nected citizens — could be inspected "every instant of time."^ 

Rather than the abstract fantasy of an eccentric Englishman whose expe- 
rience of life, you'll remember, was no more than that of a boy, Bentham's 
radically transparent Inspection-House had an enormous impact on new 
prison architecture in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. 
The original Oxford jail where I had breakfasted with Reid Hoffman, for 
example, had been built by the prolific prison architect William Blackburn, 
"the father of the radial plan for prisons,"^ who built more than a dozen 
semicircular jails on Benthamite principles. In Oxford, Blackburn had re- 


placed the medieval "gaol" in the city's castle with a building designed to 
supervise prisoners' every movement and control their time down to the 
very minute. 

But Bentham's simple idea of architecture "reformed" more than just pris- 
ons. It represented an augury of an industrial society intricately connected by 
an all-too-concrete network of railroads and telegraph lines. The mechanical 
age of the stream train, the large-scale factory, the industrial city, the nation- 
state, the motion picture camera and the mass market newspaper did indeed 
create the physical architecture to transform us into efficient individual 
exhibits — always, in theory, observable by government, employers, media 
and public opinion. In the industrial era of mass connectivity, factories, 
schools, prisons and, most ominously, entire political systems were built 
upon this crystalline technology of collective surveillance. The last two hun- 
dred years have indeed been the age of the great exhibition. 

Yet nobody in the industrial era, apart from the odd exhibitionist like Ben- 
tham himself, actually wanted to become individual pictures in this collective 
exhibition. Indeed, the struggle to be let alone is the story of industrial man. 
As Georg Simmel, the turn-of-the-twentieth-century German sociologist and 
scholar of secrecy, recognized, "the deepest problems of modern life derive 
from the claim of the individual to preserve the autonomy and individuality 
of his existence in the face of overwhelming social forces, of historical heri- 
tage, of external culture, and of the technique of life."^° Thus the great critics 
of mass society — ^John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville in the nine- 
teenth and George Orwell, Franz Kafka and Michel Foucault in the twentieth 
century — have all tried to shield individual liberty from the omniscient gaze 
of the Inspection-House. 

"Visibility," Foucault warned, "is a trap."^^ Thus, from J. S. Mill's solitary 
free thinker in On Liberty to Joseph K in The Castle and The Trial to Win- 
ston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-four, the hero of the mass industrial age for 


these critics is the individual who tries to protect his invisibility, who takes 
pleasure in his own opacity, who turns his back on the camera, who — in the 
timeless words of Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis — just wants to be let 
alone by the technologies of the mass industrial age. 

Our Age of Great Exhibitionism 

Yet now, at the dusk of the industrial and the dawn of the digital epoch, Ben- 
tham's simple idea of architecture has returned. But history never repeats it- 
self, not identically, at least. Today, as the Web evolves from a platform for 
impersonal data into an Internet of people, Bentham s industrial Inspection- 
House has reappeared with a chilling digital twist. What we once saw as a 
prison is now considered as a playground; what was considered pain is today 
viewed as pleasure. 

The analog age of the great exhibition is now being replaced by the digi- 
tal age of great exhibitionism. 

Today's simple architecture is the Internet — that ever-expanding network 
of networks combining the worldwide Web of personal computers, the wire- 
less world of handheld networked devices like my BlackBerry Bold and other 
"smart" social products such as connected televisions,^^ gaming consoles^^ 
and the "connected car"^"* — in which around a quarter of the globe's popula- 
tion have already taken up residency. In contrast with the original brick and 
mortar Inspection-House, this rapidly expanding global network, with its 
two billion digitally interconnected souls and its more than five billion con- 
nected devices, can house an infinite number of rooms. This is a global Auto- 
Icon that, more than two centuries after Jeremy Bentham sketched out his 
Inspection-House,^^ is finally realizing his utilitarian dream of allowing us to 
be perpetually observed. 

This digital architecture — described by New York University social me- 
dia scholar Clay Shirky as the "connective tissue of society"^^ and by U.S. 


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the new "nervous system of the 
planet"^^ — has been designed to transform us into exhibitionists, forever 
on show in our networked crystal palaces. And, today, in an age of radically 
transparent online communities like Twitter and Facebook, the social has 
become, in Shirky's words, the "default" setting on the Internet, ^^ transform- 
ing digital technology from being a tool of second life into an increasingly 
central part of real life. 

But this is a version of real life that could have been choreographed by 
Jeremy Bentham. As WikiLeaks founder and self-appointed transparency 
tsar Julian Assange said, today's Internet is "the greatest spying machine 
the world has ever seen,"^^ with Facebook, he added, being "the world's most 
comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, 
their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other, 
and their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US 

But it's not just Facebook that is establishing this master database of the 
human race. As Clay Shirky notes, popular^ ^ geo-location services such as 
foursquare, Facebook places, Google Latitude, Plancast and the Hotlist, 
which enable us to "effectively see through walls" and know the exact location 
of all our friends, are making society more "legible," thus allowing all of us to 
be read, in good Inspection-House fashion, "like a book."^^ No wonder, then, 
that Katie Rolphe, a New York University colleague of Shirky, has observed 
that "Facebook is the novel we are all writing."^^ 

Social media is the confessional novel that we are not only all writing but 
also collectively publishing for everyone else to read. We are all becoming 
Wiki-leakers, less notorious but no less subversive versions of Julian As- 
sange, of not only our own lives but other people's now. The old mass indus- 
trial celebrity culture has been so turned upside down by social networks 
like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter that celebrity has been democratized 


and we are reinventing ourselves as self-styled celebrities, even going as 
far as to deploy online services like YouCeleb that enable us to dress like 
twentieth-century mass media stars. ^"^ 

There has, consequently, been a massive increase in what Shirky calls "self- 
produced" legibility, thereby making society as easy to read as an open 
book.^^ As a society, we are, to borrow some words from Jeremy Bentham, 
becoming our own collective image. This contemporary mania with our own 
self-expression is what two leading American psychologists. Dr. Jean Twenge 
and Dr. Keith Campbell, have described as "the narcissism epidemic"^^ — a 
self-promotional madness driven, these two psychologists say, by our need to 
continually manufacture our own fame to the world. The Silicon Valley- 
based psychiatrist. Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, whose 2011 book. Virtually You, 
charts the rise of what he calls "the self-absorbed online Narcissus," shares 
Twenge and Campbell's pessimism. The Internet, Dr. Aboujaoude notes, 
gives narcissists the opportunity to "fall in love with themselves all over 
again," thereby creating a online world of infinite "self-promotion" and "shal- 
low web relationships."^^ 

Many other writers share Aboujaoude's concerns. The cultural historian 
Neal Gabler says that we have all become "information narcissists" utterly 
disinterested in anything "outside ourselves."^^ Social network culture med- 
icates our "need for self-esteem," adds best-selling author Neil Strauss, by 
"pandering to win followers."^^ The acclaimed novelist Jonathan Franzen 
concurs, arguing that products like his and my BlackBerry Bold are "great 
allies and enablers of narcissism." These kind of gadgets, Franzen explains, 
have been designed to conform to our fantasy of wanting to be "liked" and 
to "reflect well on us." Their technology, therefore, is simply an "extension of 
our narcissistic selves. When we stare at screens in the Web 2.0 age, we are 
gazing at ourselves. It's all one big endless loop. We like the mirror and the 
mirror likes us."^^ Franzen says, "To friend a person is merely to include the 
person in our private hall of flattering mirrors. "^^ 


We broadcast ourselves and therefore we are (not). 

Twenge, Campbell, Aboujaoude, Strauss and Franzen are all correct about 
this endless loop of great exhibitionism — an attention economy that, not un- 
coincidentally, combines a libertarian insistence on unrestrained individual 
freedom with the cult of the social. It's a public exhibition of self-love dis- 
played in an online looking glass that New Atlantis senior editor Christine 
Rosen identifies as the "new narcissism"^^ and New York Times columnist 
Ross Douthat calls a "desperate adolescent narcissism."^^ Everything — from 
communications, commerce and culture to gaming, government and 
gambling — is going social. As David Brooks, Douthat's colleague at The 
TimeSy adds, "achievement is redefined as the ability to attract attention."^'* 
All we, as individuals, want to do on the network, it seems, is share our reputa- 
tions, our travel itineraries, our war plans, our professional credentials, our 
illnesses, our confessions, photographs of our latest meal, our sexual habits of 
course, even our exact whereabouts with our thousands of online friends. 
Network society has become a transparent love-in, an orgy of oversharing, an 
endless digital Summer of Love. 

Like the network itself, our mass public confessional is global. People from 
all around the world are revealing their most private thoughts on a transpar- 
ent network that anyone and everyone can access. In May 2011, when one of 
China's richest men, a billionaire investor called Wang Gongquan, left his 
wife for his mistress, he wrote on the Chinese version of Twitter, Sina Weiba, 
a service that has 140 million users: "I am giving up everything and eloping 
with Wang Qin. I feel ashamed and so am leaving without saying good-bye. I 
kneel down and beg forgiveness!"^^ Gongquan's confession exploded virally. 
Within twenty-four hours, his post was republished 60,000 times with some 
of the billionaire's closest and most powerful friends publicly pleading with 
him to go back to his wife. 

This love-in — what the author Steven Johnson, an oversharing advocate 
who, as @stevenberlinjohnson, has 1.5 million Twitter followers of his 


own, praised as "a networked version of The Truman Show, where we are all 
playing Truman,"^*" is quite a public spectacle. Rather than The Truman 
Show, however, this epidemic of oversharing, in its preoccupation with im- 
mortality, could be subtitled The Living and the Dead. 

What If There Are No Secrets? 

More and more of us are indeed playing Truman in a networked version of 
our own intimately personalized show. "What if there are no secrets?" imag- 
ined JefFjarvis in July 2010.^'^ A transparency evangelist at the City Univer- 
sity of New York, Jarvis popularized the neologism "publicness" in a speech 
that same year entitled "Privacy, Publicness & Penises."^^ By very publicly 
announcing his own prostate cancer in April 2009 and turning his life into 
"an open blog,"^^ Jarvis^^ — the author of the 2011 transparency manifesto 
Public Parts,^^ written in "homage" to shockjock Howard Stern's Private 
Parts biography'^^ — certainly promoted his own Benthamite thesis that 
"publicness grants immortality.""^^ Another apostle of publicness, the veteran 
social theorist Howard Rheingold, who, back in 1993 as a member of the pio- 
neering Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link (the WELL), fathered the term "vir- 
tual community,""^"^ revealed his own struggle with colon cancer online in 
early 2010. A third advocate of openness, the British technology writer Guy 
Kewney, who was afflicted with colorectal cancer, even used social media to 
chronicle his own impending death in April 2010. 

While social media, for all its superhuman ability to see through walls, 
might not quite guarantee immortality, its impact is certainly of immense 
historical significance, what Jeff Jarvis describes as an "emblem of epochal 
change"^^ — as profound a technological development, in its own way, as any- 
thing invented in the last fifty years. You'll remember that Reid Hoffman 
defined this explosion of personal data as "Web 3.0." But John Doerr,^^ the 
wealthiest venture capitalist in the world whom Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos 


once described as "the center of gravity on the Internet," goes even further 
than @quixotic in his historical analysis. 

Doerr argues that "social" represents "the great third wave" of technologi- 
cal innovation, following directly in the wake of the invention of the per- 
sonal computer and the Internet.'^'^ The advent of social, local, and mobile 
technology now heralds what Doerr calls a "perfect storm" to disrupt tradi- 
tional businesses.^^ Such, indeed, is Doerr and his venture capitalist firm of 
Kleiner Perkins confidence in this social revolution that, in October 2010, in 
partnership with Facebook and Mark Pincus's Zynga, Kleiner launched a 
quarter-billion-dollar sFund dedicated to exclusively putting money into so- 
cial businesses. While on Valentine's Day 2011, the firm made what the Wall 
Street Journal dcscnhtd as a "small" $38 million investment in Facebook,'^^ 
buying the Silicon Valley venture capitalists no more than an affectionately 
symbolic 0.073% stake in the social media company.^^ "We're making a blue 
ocean bet that social is just beginning," Bing Gordon, another Kleiner part- 
ner thus explains the firm's thinking behind its sFund. "Usage habits will 
change dramatically over the next 4-5 years."^* 

Mark Zuckerberg, the beneficary of Kleiner's generous Valentine's Day 
present, Time Magazine's 2010 Person of the Year and the semi-fictionalized 
"Accidental Billionaire" subject of David Fincher's hit 2010 movie The Social 
Network^^ agrees with Gordon that we are at the beginning of a social revo- 
lution that will change not only the online user experience but also our entire 
economy and society. Zuckerberg who, as the English novelist Zadie Smith 
notes, "uses the word connect as believers use the word/^^^/^,"^^ is the Jeremy 
Bentham 2.0 of our digitally networked age, the social engineer who claims 
to be "rewiring the world."^"^ And, like Bentham too, the Facebook co-founder 
and CEO is a "boy to the last" who lacks any experience or knowledge of hu- 
man nature and who wants to build a digital Inspection-House in which 
none of us are ever let alone again. 


Zuckerberg's excitement about the five-year horizon is certainly boyish. 
"If you look five years out, every industry is going to be rethought in a social 
way. You can remake whole industries. That's the big thing,"^^ Zuckerberg 
gushed in December 2010. "And no matter where you go," he told Robert 
Scoble, Silicon Valley's uber-evangelist of social media, "we want to ensure 
that every experience you have will be social."^^ 

Zuckerberg's five-year plan is to eliminate loneliness. He wants to create 
a world in which we will never have to be alone again because we will always 
be connected to our online friends in everything we do, spewing huge 
amounts of our own personal data as we do it. "Facebook wants to populate 
the wilderness, tame the howling mob and turn the lonely, antisocial world 
of random chance into a friendly world, a serendipitous world," Times Lev 
Grossman explained why his magazine made Zuckerberg their Person of the 
Year in 2010. "You'll be working and living inside a network of people, and 
you'll never have to be alone again. The Internet, and the whole world, will 
feel more like a family, or a college dorm, or an office where your co-workers 
are also your best friends." ^^ 

But even today, in the early stages of Zuckerberg's five-year plan to rewire 
the world, Facebook is becoming mankind's own image. Attracting a trillion 
page views a month,^^ and now hosting more active users than the entire 
population of Europe and Russia,^^ Facebook is where we go to reveal every- 
thing about ourselves. It's not surprising, therefore, that the satirical website 
The Onion, confirming Julian Assange's remark about Facebook as history's 
"most appalling spying machine," presents Mark Zuckerberg's creation as a 
CIA conspiracy. "Afiier years of secretly monitoring the public, we were as- 
tounded so many people would willingly publicize where they live, their reli- 
gious and political views, an alphabetized list of all their friends, personal 
e-mail addresses, phone numbers, hundreds of photos of themselves, and even 
status updates about what they were doing moment to moment," a mock 


CIA deputy director reports to Congress in the Onion skit. "It is truly a 
dream come true for the CI A."*^^ 

But perhaps the most disturbing thing of all is that Facebook isn't a CIA 
plant and Mark Zuckerberg isn't an Agency operative. Ironically, Zuckerberg 
five-year plan might make the CIA redundant or transform it into a start-up 
business division, what Silicon Valley people would call a "skunk-works" proj- 
ect, within Facebook. After all, professional spooks have little value if we all 
live in a universal dorm room where anyone can know what everyone else is 
doing and thinking. 

Everyone can become a secret policeman in a world without personal 
secrets — which is why the CIA really has set up an Open Source Center at 
its Virginia headquarters where a team of so-called "vengeful librarians" 
stalk thousands of Twitter and Facebook accounts for information.^^ That 
may be scary for the traditional powers that be at the CIA, with their 
industrial-age assumptions about the top-down, exclusively professional 
nature of intelligence work, but it's even scarier for the rest of us who cannot 
escape the transparent lighting of a global electronic village in which anyone 
can become a vengeful librarian. 

The Dial Tone for the 21st Century 

So for who, exactly, is today's social media a "dream come true"? 

Architects of digital transparency, technologists of openness, venture 
capitalists and, of course, entrepreneurs like Reid Hoffman, Biz Stone and 
Mark Pincus who are all massively profiting from all these real identities 
generating enormous amounts of their own personal data. That's who are 
transforming this "dream" of the ubiquitous social network into a reality. 

No, Mark Zuckerberg is far from being the only young social media billion- 
aire gazing, with a mix of communitarian aura and financial greed, onto that 
five-year horizon when the whole world will have become a twenty-first-century 


version of Bentham's Inspection-House. Speaking at the launch of the sFund, 
Zynga CEO Mark Pincus — the co-owner, you'll remember, with his friend 
Rcid Hoffman, of the future itself — concurred with Zuckerberg's vision of a 
world radically reinvented by social technology. "In five years, everybody 
will always be connected to each other instead of the web," Pincus pre- 
dicted.^^ Social companies like Zygna, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, he 
explained, are becoming the central plumbing for what he called "the dial 
tones" for the ubiquitous social experience of tomorrow, connecting people 
through increasingly invisible mobile technology that will always be with 
them. Connectivity, Pincus predicts, will become the electricity of the social 
epoch — so ubiquitous that it will be invisible and so powerful that it threat- 
ens to become the operating system for the entire twenty-first century. 

But even today, it's increasingly difficult to avoid the relentlessly invasive 
beep of Mark Pincus's social dial tone. The digital networking of the world, 
this arrival of The Truman Show on all of our screens, is both relentless and 
inevitable. "^^ By mid-2011, the Pew Research Center found that 65 percent of 
American adults were using social-networking sites — up from just 5 percent 
in 2005.^"^ In June 2010, Americans spent almost 23 percent of their online 
time in social media networking — up a staggering 43 percent from June 
2009,^^ with use among older adults (50-64 year olds) almost doubling in 
this period and the 65+ demographic being the fastest growing age group on 
Facebook in 2010 with a 124 percent increase in sign-ups over 2009. And by 
the summer of 2011, the Pew Research Center found that this number has 
risen dramatically again, with 32 percent of fifty- to sixty-four-year-olds in 
America accessing networks like Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook on a daily 

Yet, for all Facebook 's meteoric growth among the senior digital citizens, 
it's teens and high school kids who have most fully embraced social media, 
with Facebook and Twitter replacing blogging as their dominant mode of 
online self-expression.^^ As Mark Zuckerberg said, in November 2010, when 


he introduced Facebook's social messaging platform, "high school kids don't 
use e-mail." Unfortunately, Zuckerberg is correct. In 2010, e-mail — private 
one-to-one electronic communication that is the digital version of letter 
writing — was, according to ComScore, down 59 percent among teenagers, 
replaced, of course, with public social-messaging platforms like Twitter and 

Facebook, with its members investing over 700 billion minutes of their 
time per month on the network,^^ was the world's most visited Web site in 
2010 making up 9 percent of all online traffic.''^ By early 2011, 57 percent of 
all online Americans were logging onto Facebook at least once a day, with 51 
percent of all Americans over twelve years old having an account on the social 
network^^ and 38 percent of all the Internet's sharing referral traffic emanat- 
ing from Zuckerberg's creation.'^^ By September 201 1, more than 500 million 
people were logging onto Facebook each day^^ with its then almost 800 mil- 
lion active users being larger than the entire Internet was in 2004.'^^ Face- 
book is becoming mankind's own image. It's where our Auto-Icons now sit. 

Not to be outdone. Biz Stone's Twitter, Facebook's most muscular com- 
petitor in real-time social networking, added 100 million new members in 
2010 who contributed to the 25 billion tweets sent that year^^ and, by Octo- 
ber 2011, were authoring a quarter-billion tweets per day (that's more than 
10,000 messages authored per second) with more than 50 million users 
logging onto the site every day.'^^ Then there's the social ecommerce start-up 
Groupon, whose 35 -million subscriber base and annual revenue of around 
$2 billion makes it the fastest growing company in American history. In 
December 2010, Groupon turned down a $6 billion acquisition offisr from 
Google and instead raised almost a billion dollars of its own from private 
investors before launching its own oversubscribed November 2011 IPO in 
which the company was valued at $16.5 billion.'^'^ Groupon's most direct 
competitor, LivingSocial, with its rumored $6 billion valuation and ex- 
pected $1 billion revenue in 2011, is also experiencing meteoric growth.^^ 


Meanwhile, Pincus's social gaming start-up Zynga continues its own quest 
for global domination: Founded in July 2007, the Silicon Valley-based 
company, which includes Facebook's most popular apps CitiVille and Farm- 
ville'^^ in its network, is now delivering an astonishing 1 petabyte of daily 
data, adding 1,000 new servers a week and has had its social games played 
together by 215 million people, which corresponds to about 10 percent of 
the world's entire online population.^^ No wonder, then, that Pincus's still 
private three-and-a-half-year-old company raised a $500 million round of 
investment from a number of venture capitalists — including, of course, 
Kleiner — at a $10 billion valuation,^^ before launching its own IPO in De- 
cember 2011. 

The rate of growth for younger social media companies is equally jaw drop- 
ping. Foursquare, one of Silicon Valley's hottest social start-ups, grew by 3400 
percent in 2010 and, by August 2011, the then year-old geo-location service 
was getting 3 million check-ins per day from its 10 million members, ^^ with 
its users growing to 15 million by December 2011.^^ A second, the blogging 
platform Tumblr, was growing by a quarter billion impression every week in 
early 2011,^"^ and, by September 2011, had raised $85 million in fresh financ- 
ing and was attracting 13 billion average monthly page views from its 30 mil- 
lion blogs.^^ Another, the social knowledge network Quora, founded by 
former Facebook technologists Adam D'Angelo and Charlie Cheever,^^ was 
valued at $86 million by investors before the advertising free service had even 
established a business model for making money^^ and was rumored to have 
"scoffed" at a $1 billion acquisition offer.^^ Not to be outdone, the social pho- 
tography app Instagram reached 2 million users in only four months since its 
late 2010 launch — making its phenomenal rate of growth three times faster 
than that of foursquare and six times more viral than Twitter. 

Once just a medium for the distribution of impersonal data, the Internet 
is now a network of companies and technologies designed around social 
products, platforms and services — transforming it from an impersonal data- 


base into a global digital brain publicly broadcasting our relationships, our 
intentionality and our personal taste. The integration of our personal data — 
renamed by social media marketers as our "social graph" — into online con- 
tent is now the central driver of Internet innovation in Reid Hoffman's Web 
3.0 age. By enabling our thousands of "friends" to know exactly what we are 
doing, thinking, reading, watching and buying, today's Web products and 
services are powering our hypervisible age of great exhibitionism. No won- 
der, then, that the World Economic Forum describes personal data as a "New 
Asset Class"^^ in the global economy. 

In early 20 11, Sergey Brin, Google co-founder, acknowledged that Google 
had only "touched" 1 percent of social search's potential.^^ But even today, 
with social realizing only a few percentage points of what it will eventually 
become, this revolution is dramatically reshaping not just the Internet but 
also our identities and personalities. Whether we like it or not, twenty-first- 
century life is increasingly being lived in public. Four out of five college ad- 
missions offices, for example, are looking up applicants' Facebook profiles 
before making a decision on whether to accept them.^^ A February 2011 hu- 
man resources survey suggested that almost half of HR managers believed it 
was likely that our social network profiles are replacing our resumes as the 
core way for potential employers to evaluate us.^^ The New York Times reports 
that some firms have even begun using surveillance services like Social Intel- 
ligence, which can legally store data for up to seven years, to collect social 
media information about prospective employees before giving them jobs.^^ 
"In today's executive search market, if you're not on Linkedin, you don't 
exist," one job search expert told The Wall Street Journal in June 2011.^"^ 
Linkedin now even enables its users to submit their profiles as resumes, thus 
inspiring one "personal branding guru" to announce that the 100 million 
member professional network is "about to put Job Boards (and Resumes) out 
of business. "^^ 

Mark Zuckerberg once said "movies are naturally social things."^^ What 


he forgot to add is that in this brave new world of shared information, re- 
sumes, pictures, books, travel, music, business, politics, education, shopping, 
location, finance and knowledge are, it seems, also naturally social things. 

So my question for Zuckerberg — who already has 51 percent of all Ameri- 
cans over twelve years old on his network and who believes that kids under 
thirteen should be allowed to have Facebook accounts^'^ — is very simple: 
Mark, in your vision of the future, please tell me something that isn't a social 

Nothing. That, of course, would be his answer. Everything is going social, 
he would say. Social is, to borrow a much overused metaphor, the tsunami 
that is altering our entire social, educational, personal and business land- 
scape. And, I'm afraid, Mark Zuckerberg isn't alone in seeing social as that 
tidal wave that, for better or worse, is flattening everything in its path. 

The Emerald Sea 

On the wall of an otherwise nondescript fourth-floor Silicon Valley office is 
a picture of a great wave crashing against the beach. In its foamy, tumescent 
wake lies the corpse of a small fishing boat. This picture is a copy of "Emer- 
ald Sea," an 1878 landscape of the Californian coastline by the romantic 
American artist Albert Bierstadt, and it hangs in the Mountain View office 
of Google, the dominant Web 2.0 company that is now aggressively trying 
to transform itself into a Web 3.0 social media player. 

No, it's not just me that is using the metaphor of a great wave to describe 
the social revolution. In the second half of 2010, acknowledging the failure of 
Buzz and Wave, its first generation social media products, and realizing that 
social media threatens to turn this Web 2.0 leader into a Web 3.0 laggard, 
Google established an elite army of engineers and business executives led by 
its S VP of Social Business, Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz, its VP of 
product and incorporating eighteen Google products and thirty traditional 
product teams. What Gundotra described to me as a "project" was called 


Emerald Sea and it referred directly to Bierstadt's idealized nineteenth- 
century landscape, with its enormous wave crashing down against the coast- 
line. "We needed a code name that captured the fact that either there was a 
great opportunity to sail to new horizons and new things, or that we were 
going to drown by this wave," Gundotra explained the project that, a year 
later, conceived the Google -I- social network. ^^ 

Bradley Horowitz described Emerald Sea's 100-day ambition of trans- 
forming Google into a social company as a "wild-ass crazy, get-to-the-moon" 
goal. But it was, in fact, a wise move by the once dominant search company 
that has been forced to play social catch-up to Facebook, Zynga, Groupon, 
LivingSocial, Twitter, and the rest of the Web 3.0 tidal wave. You see, on to- 
day's Internet, it seems, everything — and I mean absolutely everything — is 
going social. The Internet's core logic, its dominant algorithm, has been 
reinvented to operate on social principles — which is why some technology 
pundits are already predicting that Facebook will soon surpass Google in 
advertising revenues.^^ 

The result is a flood of new online social businesses, technologies and 
networks with collaborative names like GroupMe, Socialcast, LivingSocial, 
SocialVibe, PeekYou, BeKnown, Togetherville, Socialcam, SocialFlow, 
SproutSocial, SocialEyes and, most appropriately for our hypervisible age, Hy- 
perpublic. And it's not just Kleiner-Perkins that is pouring billions of dollars 
of investment into this social economy. The smartest investors in the Valley 
are all going social. In the first half of 2011, for example, the Silicon Valley- 
based VC firm of Andreessen Horowitz, managed by Netscape founder Mark 
Andreessen, the technologist who sparked the original Web 1.0 boom in Au- 
gust 1995 with his company's historic IPO, invested hundreds of millions of 
dollars in Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, Zynga and Skype.^^^ Then there's 
Mike Moritz, the legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist who invested in 
Google, Yahoo!, Apple and YouTube, who is now a board member at @quix- 
otic's Linkedln.^^' While Chris Sacca, who The JVali Street Journal described 


as "possibly the most influential businessman in America, is now managing a 
J.P. Morgan funded billion dollar investment fund which, in early 2011, in- 
vested several hundred million dollars in Twitter.^^^ 

Doerr, Andreessen, Moritz, Sacca and, of course, my old sparring partner 
@quixotic all recognize the profound changes that are transforming the 
Web 2.0 into the Web 3.0 economy. The old link Internet market, domi- 
nated by Google's artificial search algorithm, is being replaced with the 
"like" economy, symbolized by the first working product that came out of 
the Emerald Sea project, Google's "-I-1" social search. Described by Tech- 
crunch's MG Siegler as a "massive"^^^ technological initiative, the prolifi- 
cally viral -hi — which was launched in June 201 1'^'^ and within three 
months could be found on a million Web sites generating more than 4 bil- 
lion daily views^°^ — adds a social layer of public recommendations from 
friends not only on top of the dominant search engine's nonhuman artifi- 
cial algorithm but also above its advertising platform. "Whether they ad- 
mit it or not," Siegler says of-i-1, "Google is at war with Facebook for 
control of the web." 

That's because H-l allows us to publicly recommend search results and 
Web sites, thus replacing Google's artificial algorithm as the engine of the 
new social economy. In the -Hi world, we all will eventually become person- 
alized versions of the old Google search engine — directing Web traffic 
around our transparent tastes, opinions and preferences. Siegler is correct. 
The stakes in this new war between Google and Facebook really are about 
control of the Internet. No wonder, then, that Larry Page, the new Google 
CEO, tied 25 percent of all Google employee bonuses in 2011 to the success 
of the company's social strategy. ^^^ 

Gundotra and Horowitz acknowledged the centrality of the company's 
social strategy when they appeared on my TechcrunchTV show in July 
2011^^'^ to discuss the informal launch of their second product, a social net- 
work called Google -I- that, while still in beta, amassed 20 million unique 


visitors in just three weeks^^^ and, in the seven days after its June 201 1 release, 
increased the company's market cap by $20 billion. ^^^ Marginalizing the im- 
portance of the company's artificial algorithm, Horowitz boasted that 
Google + puts "people first," while Gundotra presented Google + as "the 
glue" that unites all of Google's products — from its algorithmic search to 
YouTube to Gmail to its myriad of advertising products and services. 

So is Google now a "social company"? I asked Gundotra. 

"Yes," Google's VP of Social replied about the Google + community, 
which, in the 100 days after its beta launch in June 201 1, had grown to 40 mil- 
lion members.^^^ and which is predicted to include 200 million members by 
the end of 2012.111 

As a social company, it's hardly surprising, therefore, that Google fol- 
lowed up the launch its Google -I- network with the January 2012 introduc- 
tion of "Search, plus Your World" (SPYW)— a Web 3.0 product that Steven 
Levy, the author o^InJhe Plex and the world's leading authority on Google, 
describes as a "startling transformation" of the company's search engine. ^^ 
With SPYW, the content on the Google -I- social network replaces the com- 
pany's artificial algorithm as the brain of its search engine; with SPYW, the 
old Google search engine, once the very heart and soul of the Web 2.0 
world, becomes merely what Levy calls an "amplifier of social content." 

In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four, 1 + 1 was said to equal 5. But in 
today's social information age, when we are all publicly broadcasting our 
personal tastes, habits and locations on networks like Google -h, what 
might -Hi plus -1-1 equal? 

-f1 -h-hi ++'^++^ -h-Hi ++\ ++^+^ 

It will not quite compute into a googol— 10,000,000,000,000,000,000, 
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to be exact— but the -hi 
social economy has already spawned into thousands of new Web sites, billions 


of dollars of investment and revenue, and countless new apps incorporating 
all the personal data of the hundreds of millions of people on the social 

This personal data, what Google's Bradley Horowitz euphemistically calls 
putting "people first," is the core ingredient, the revolutionary fuel, power- 
ing the Web 3.0 economy. But the Internet is radically changing too, its ar- 
chitecture reflecting the new social dial tone for the twenty-first century. 
Everything on the Web — from its infrastructure to its navigation to its enter- 
tainment to its commerce to its communications — is going social. John 
Doerr is right. Today's Web 3.0 revolution, this Internet of people, is indeed 
the third great wave of technological innovation, as profound as the inven- 
tion of both the personal computer and the Worldwide Web itself. 

The Internet's business infrastructure, its core architecture, is getting a 
major social overhaul — so that every technology platform and service is 
shifting from a Web 2.0 to the Web 3.0 model. Internet browsers, search en- 
gines and email services — the trinity of technologies that shape our daily In- 
ternet use — are becoming social. Everyone in Silicon Valley, it seems, is going 
into the business of eliminating loneliness. To compete with Google's SPYW, 
there are now Facebook-powered "liked results" from Microsoft's Bing search 
engine, ^^^ as well as the Greplin and Blekko search engines and a "people" 
search engine from PeekYou that has already indexed the records of over 250 
million people. There are social Internet browsers from Rockmelt and 
Firefox, and social updating from Meebo's increasingly ubiquitous MiniBar 
messenger. There is social email from Gmail's People Widget, Microsoft 
Outlook's Social Connector and from start-ups like Xobni and Rapportive 
for old fogies like myself who are still relying on archaic email. ^^"^ 

It's not just email. All online communications — from video to audio to 
text messaging to microblogging — is going social. There are real-time social 
video platforms from Socialcam, Showyou, SocialEyes, Tout and from Air- 
time, a start-up founded by the real Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, the co- 


founder of Napster, which is quite Hteraily focused, according to Parker, on 
"eUminating loneliness."^ ^^ There are social texting and messaging apps from 
the Skype acquisition GroupMe,^^^ as well as from Facebook's Beluga, Yo- 
bongo, Kik and many other equally unpronouncable start-ups. There is social 
blogging on Tumblr, social "curation" from Pinterest, social "conversation" 
from Glow,^^'' small group social networking on Path that has amassed almost 
a million users in under a year^^^ and workplace social communications from 
Yammer and Chatter that each have around 100,000 companies using their 
platforms.^ ^^ Then there is Rypple, a social tool for "internal employee man- 
agement," which enables everybody in a company to rate everyone else, thereby 
transforming work into a kind of never-ending real-time show trial. ^^° 

Entertainment is going social, too. In December 2011, YouTube's home- 
page went social, emphasizing the Google -I- and Facebook networks in what 
the video leviathan called "the biggest redesign in its history."^^^ There is so- 
cial music and social sound from Pandora, the iTunes Ping network, Sound- 
cloud and Soundtracking.^^^ There are social reality television shows on 
American Idol and The X-Factor}^^ social information about what movies 
we are watching on GetGlue, social TV networks like Into.Now and Philo, 
which reveal to the world our viewing habits, and Facebook integration on 
Hulu which enables us to share our remarks with all our friends. Social TV 
means everyone will know what everyone else is viewing. "Miso now knows 
what you're watching, no check-in required," thus warns a headline in The 
New York Times about Miso, a social TV app that can already automatically 
recognize the viewing habits of DirecTV satellite subscribers.^^"* 

Most ominously of all, the online movie jugernaut Netflix — already esti- 
mated to be the origin of 30 percent of all Internet traffic^^^ — is so commit- 
ted to deeply integrating its service with Facebook that its CEO, Reed 
Hastings, gazing like Mark Zuckerberg onto the five-year horizon, acknowl- 
edged in June 201 1 that he has a "five-year investment path" for making social 
central to his company's product development. ^^^ 


The news industry, another core pillar of twentieth-century media, is try- 
ing to transform itself with social technology. There are, for example, socially 
produced news stories from the New York Times' News. mc^^^ and from Flip- 
board, the 2010 start-up behind the social magazine app for mobile devices 
that is already valued at $200 million and includes Kleiner-Perkins and Ash- 
ton Kutcher as investors and Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable network as a 
content distribution partner. ^^^ 

Of all twentieth-century media, it is the once mostly private art of pho- 
tography that is being most radically socialized by the Web 3.0 revolution. 
Hundreds of millions of dollars are being poured into social photography so 
that we can share all our intimate pictures with the world. There are social 
photos from the social self-portrait network Dailybooth, from the sensation- 
ally popular Instagram app, from the $15 million photo and gaming start-up 
ImageSocial,^^^ and from Color, a "proximity based" photo sharing service 
"with no privacy settings" that raised $41 million in March 2011 before its 
product had even been launched.^^^ 

But it's our contemporary mania for revealing our location which is the 
most chilling aspect of the Web's new collective architecture. There are social 
geo-location services not only from foursquare, Loopt, Buzzd, Facebook 
Places and the Reid Hoffman investment Gowalla (which was acquired by 
Facebook in December 2011), but also from the MeMap app that enables us 
to track all the check-ins of our Internet friends on a single networked map^^^ 
and from Sonar, which identifies other friends in our vicinity. ^^^ There is so- 
cial mapping on Google Maps, social travel recommendations on Wanderfly, 
social seating on aircrafts from KLM and Malaysia Airlines's MHBuddy,^^^ 
social travel information on Tripit, social driving on the Kleiner-funded 
Waze app^^"^ and on the social license plate network^^^ and, most 
bizarrely of all, social bicycling from the iPhone app Cyclometer, which en- 
ables our friends to track, hear and share exactly where we are and what we 
are doing on our bicycles. 



Even time itself, both the past and the future, is becoming social. Proust, 
a social network designed to store our memories, is trying — presumably in an 
attempt to emulate the eponymous French novelist — to socialize the past.^^^ 
There are "social discovery" engines like The Hotlist and Plancast that have 
aggregated information from over 100 million Web users that enables us to 
not only see where our friends have been and currently are located but also to 
predict where they will be in the future. There is even a social "intentional- 
ity" app from Ditto that enables you to share what you will and should do 
with everyone on your network,^^'' while the WhereBerry social networking 
service enables us to tell our friends what movies we want to see and restau- 
rants that we'd like to try. 

But the social media revolution isn't just about obscurely named start-ups — 
many of which, in today's Darwinian struggle for digital domination, will 
inevitably fail. Take, for example, Microsoft, the former technology leader 
that is now trying to buy its way into the social economy. Microsoft's in- 
tended $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype, announced in May 2011 — the com- 
pany's largest acquisition in its history — is an attempt to socialize its Internet 
business. This acquisition seeks to leverage Skype's active 145 million users 
into a Microsoft centric social network that will maintain the company's rel- 
evance in the social media age.^^^ 

Like Microsoft, every presocial technology company is now trying to surf 
the Emerald wave. Indeed, there are now so many social business products 
from large enterprises like IBM (Connections Social Software), Monster, 
com (the Facebook app Beknown), and Salesforce (Yammer) that one analyst 
told the Wall Street Journal "it's hard to think of a company that isn't selling 
enterprise social software now."^^^ And the corporate world is embracing 
Web 3.0 technology, too, with "enlightened companies" such as Gatorade, 
Farmer's Insurance, Domino's Pizza, and Ford investing massively in social 
media marketing campaigns. "If you want to reach a millennium," wrote one 
of Ford's social media evangelists in a justification of why they sent a tweeting 


car across America, "you have to go where they Uve, and that means on- 

Yes, the fictional Sean Parker from The Social Network got it right: First 
we hved in villages, then in cities and now we are increasingly living online. 
And the truth is that today it's hard to actually think of an Internet start-up 
whose products or services aren't embracing the web's new social architec- 
ture. This revolution in sharing our personal data extends to every imagin- 
able nook and crevice of both the online and offline world. Even a partial list 
makes one's head spin. So the next few paragraph are best read sitting down. 

Given that social media advertising's annual revenue is expected to grow 
from its 2011 total of $5.5 billion to $10 billion by 2013, ^''^ the online adver- 
tising business is now going social, with the meteoric growth of platforms 
like RadiumOne that serve up ads based on what our friends like^^^ and So- 
cialVibe, the branding marketing engine that is fuelling the Zynga net- 
work.^^^ TKere are now hundreds of collaborative commerce start-ups with 
communitarian names like BuyWithMe and ShopSocially attempting to 
emulate Groupon and LivingSocial. For the socially conscious, there are so- 
cial networks for social entrepreneurs at Like Minded and Craig Connect, 
social investment from CapLinked,^'^^ socially generated charity from Jumo 
and social fund-raising from Fundly. There are social networks for foodies 
like My Fav Food, Cheapism^'^^ and Grubwithus^'^^ and, as an antidote, social 
dieting apps^'^^ like Daily Burn, Gain Fitness, Loselt, Social Workout and 
Fibit — a social gadget that broadcasts to the world its users' sex lives. ^'^^ 

There are social networks like Yatown,^'*^ Hey, Neighbor!,, 
and Zenergo^^^ that have been designed to connect local neighbors and real 
world activities. There is the bizarre Google -H and Twitter clone Chime. in, 
which allows you to follow "part of a person. ^^^ There is social discovery from 
ShoutFlow, which describes itself as a "magical" app for finding "relevant" 
people nearby.^^^ TKere is social education from OpenStudy that "wants to 
turn the world into one big study group."^^^ There are social productivity tools 


from Manymoon and Asana,^^"* professional social networking from Be- 
Known, social event networking from MingleBird, social media analytics 
from Social Bakers, social investing from AngelList, and social consumer 
information on SocialSmack and something called a "marketplace for social 
transactions" from Jig.^^^ There is social local data from Hyperpublic, social 
cardio training from Endomondo*^^ and a growing infestation of social net- 
works for children like Club Penguin, giantHello and the creepily named 
Togetherville — a kids' network that Disney acquired in February 2011.^^'^ 
Perhaps most eerily of all, there is even a so-called social "serendipity engine" 
from Shaker — a well backed and much hyped Israeli start-up that won Tech- 
crunch's 2011 Disrupt championship — which turns Facebook into a virtual 
bar for meeting strangers. *^^ 

Phew! And if this vertiginous wave of social networks isn't enough, then 
there is social reading — offering a giant collective hello to book lovers every- 
where. Yes, reading, that most intensely private and illicit of all modern indi- 
vidual experiences, is being transformed into a disturbingly social spectacle. 
Some of you may even be reading this book socially — meaning that instead 
of sitting alone with this book, you'll be sharing your hitherto intimate read- 
ing experience in real-time with thousands of your closest Facebook or Twit- 
ter friends via your e-readers through social services like Amazon's Kindle 
profiles. ^^^ Indeed, in January 2011 Scribd, a social reading company with a 
mission to "liberate the written word, to connect people with the informa- 
tion and ideas that matter most to them,"^^^ raised $13 million in order to 
add more "social features" to every mobile networked device. ^^^ Meanwhile, 
Rethink Books, a collaborative reading company, launched the Bible as a 
socialized product, perhaps with the intention of creating a "direct social 
channel" between the book's "Author" and its readers. ^^^ 

Maybe Rethink Books should acquire the social cardio training network 
Endomondo and rename itself You see, social reading really does, in a sense, 
represent (he end of the world. It means the end of the isolated reader, the end 


of solitary thought, the end of purely individual literary reflection, the end 
of those long afternoons spent entirely alone with just a book. 

Nervous about the coming social dictatorship? Need a cigarette break 
with fellow smokers? Don't worry, there is even a social networking device 
for smokers, introduced by a company called Blu in June 2011, which sells 
electronically enhanced e-cigarettes ($80 for a five pack) that enable their 
owners to download their contact information onto personal computers 
and connect with other smokers. ^^^ 

Endomondo, indeed. 

SocialEyes Is Creepy 

MingleBird, PeekYou, Hotlist, Rypple, Scribd, Sonar, Quora, Togetherville 
and the thousands of Web 3.0 companies are creating, social brick by social 
brick, a global networked electronic Inspection-House, a twenty-first- 
century home in which we can all watch each other all of the time. Take, for 
example, SocialEyes (pronounced i^a^/Zz^), the social video start-up founded 
by Rob Glaser, the former Microsoft: executive and CEO of RealNetworks, 
and backed by a number of blue chip West Coast venture capital firms. 
Launched in beta form in March 2011, SocialEyes unintentionally captures 
the matrix for our age of great exhibitionism, making it a metaphorical pic- 
ture of our collective future. 

"It looks like there is a wall of video cubes, like the set of Hollywood 
Squares^ Glaser explained the SocialEyes interface." You can see yourself in 
one of these squares and then start initiating phone calls to anyone in your 
network."^^'^ This is the true picture of the social web. When we socialize on 
SocialEyes, the world becomes a gigantically transparent set of Hollywood 
Squares and we all become cubes inside its wall. 

You'll remember that @quixotic once said that his goal was to provide 
society with a lens to who are we and who should we be, as individuals and 
as members of society. And that, I'm afraid, is all too literally what new net- 


works like SocialEyes are doing. The emergence of this sociahzed economy, 
with its powerful lens directed upon society and its tens of billions of dollars 
of investment appears now, for better or worse, unstoppable. 

So what, exactly, are we telling the world when we use networks like Rob 
Glaser's SocialEyes, the "social serendipity engine" Shaker or Sean Parker's 
Airtime — the social network, you'll remember, designed, in Parker's words, 
to "eliminate loneliness." 

"Snoop on me" we are saying. Snoop on me we are all saying, each time we 
use SocialEyes, Airtime, Shaker, foursquare. Into. now or the hundreds of 
other Orwellian services and platforms that reveal what we are doing and 
thinking to the world. And snooping on me has, indeed, become so central to 
the Internet's architecture that there is even a Web site called 
which, quite literally, enables our online followers to watch everything we do 
on our personal computers. Equally chilling is an app called Breakup Noti- 
fier which tracks people's relationship status on Facebook and then alerts 
everyone when our love life changes and we become divorced or single. When 
launched in early 2011, Breakup Notifier attracted 100,000 users in a few 
hours before, thankfully, being blocked by Facebook.^^^ 

But even creepier than Breakup Notifier or is Creepy, an 
app that enables us to track the exact location of our Twitter or Facebook 
friends on a map.'^^ With Creepy, we all know where everybody else is all the 

The simple architecture of the digital Inspection-House is now all around 
us. Has Nineteen Eighty-four finally arrived on all of our screens? 


@ericgrant A friend is waiting for a friend while she gets an abortion and he's 
texting me about it. Why does that make me uncomfortable^'} 

Own life 

Yes, it all seems so chillingly Orwellian. George Orwell would have probably 
agreed with @quixotic that the future is always sooner and stranger than we 
think. Writing in 1948, Orwell imagined a future in which 
and the Creepy app had become the law. "In principle a Party member had 
no spare time, and was never alone except in bed," Orwell wrote in Nineteen- 
Eighty-four. "It was assumed that when he was not working, eating, or sleep- 
ing he would be taking part in some kind of communal recreation: to do 
anything that suggested a taste for solitude, even to go for a walk by yourself, 
was always slightly dangerous. There was a neologism for it in Newspeak: 
Ownlife, it was called, meaning individualism and eccentricity."^ 

And there was another neologism in Newspeak: "facecrime," Orwell 
coined it. "It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you 
were in any public place or within range of a telescreen," he wrote. "The 
smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of 
anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself— anything that carried with it the 
suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear 
an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was 


announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a 
word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called." 

Yes, as Christopher Hitchens reminds us, Orwell still "matters."^ On 
January 22, 1984, to celebrate the introduction of the Apple Macintosh, the 
world's first real personal computer, Ridley Scott's iconic Super Bowl XVIII 
commercial told us "why 1984 won't be 1984."'* But that may have been be- 
cause "1984" got delayed a quarter of a century. Unfortunately, today, in the 
midst of the contemporary social media revolution, Ownlife is once again in 
trouble. But Newspeak's "facecrime" has been turned on its head in our 
world of endless tweets, check-ins and status updates. In Nineteen Eighty- 
four, it was a crime to express yourself; today, it is becoming unfashionable, 
perhaps even socially unacceptable not to express oneself on the network. 

Instead of Big Brother, what exists in today's age of great exhibitionism 
is what the American novelist Walter Kirn calls, a "vast cohort of prankish 
Little Brothers equipped with devices that Orwell, writing 60 years ago, 
never dreamed of and who are loyal to no organized authority."^ Kirn's "Lit- 
tle Brothers" are all of us, the people — the peeps, in both form and function — 
whose smartphones, tablets and billions of other so-called "post-PC" devices 
put as much surveillance technology in each of our hands as Orwell gave Big 
Brother's entire regime in Nineteen Eighty-four. 

We — you and I — are the loci of twenty-first-century power. Our personal 
expressions and feelings are, in the words of British filmmaker Adam Curtis, 
the "driving belief of our time." Personalized social networks are thus, ac- 
cording to Curtis, the "natural center of the world" and tweets and Facebook 
updates "reinforce the feeling that this is the natural way to be."*^ 

Early twenty-first-century networks like SocialEyes, Shaker and Airtime 
reverse Big Brother's telescreen, so that everyone becomes a cube in the wall 
both watching and being watched by every other cube. "The invasion of 
privacy — of others' privacy but also our own, as we turn our lenses on our- 
selves in the quest for attention by any means — has been democratized," 


Walter Kirn argues/ He is right. In the industrial age, the ideal of privacy 
was taken for granted as the dominant cultural norm, but today, as we-the- 
peeps turn the telescreen on ourselves so that everyone can watch us, it is Jeff 
Jarvis's cacophonic ideal of publicness that's becoming the default mode of 

"Privacy is taking a back seat to the notion that our every thought, act or 
desire should be publicized," confirms University of Southern California's 
social media research scientist Dr. Julie Albright. "Our social lives are be- 
coming more transparent and public, and a lot of people don't really con- 
sider the fact that once it's out there, it's out there." ^ 

The Age of Networked Intelligence 

Yet for the wired intelligentsia seeking to "reboot" the human condition, 
this increasingly transparent network — @quixotic's Web 3.0 and John Do- 
err's third wave of technological innovation, represents an unambiguously 
positive development in the evolution of mankind. As one digital engineer of 
the human soul, social media evangelist Umair Haque, argued in the Har- 
vard Business Review, the "promise of the Internet . . . was to fundamentally 
rewire people, communities, civil society, business and the state — through 
thicker, stronger, more meaningful relationships. That's where the future of 
media lies."^ 

But even the clownlike Haque, who describes himself to his over 100,000 
Twitter follows as an "advisor to revolutionaries"^^ and was ranked by the Lon- 
don Independent newspaper the fifth most influential member of the United 
Kingdom's Twitter "elite" (sandwiched, appropriately enough, between the 
two comedians Russell Brand and Stephen Fry),^^ doesn't quite grasp the ep- 
ochal significance of today's revolution of invasive social networks like Plan- 
cast, Airtime, Hitlist, SocialEyes and foursquare. Rather than just the future 
of media, the twenty-first-century electronic network might actually represent 
the post-industrial future of everything. 


As best-selling digital evangelists Don Tapscott^^ and Anthony D. Wil- 
liams argue in their 2010 book MacroWikinomicsP today's Internet repre- 
sents "a turning point in history." We are entering what they call "the age of 
networked intelligence," a "titanic" historic shift, they pronounce, equiva- 
lent to the "birth of the modern nation-state" or the Renaissance.^'^ Mark 
Pincus's always-on social dial tone, Tapscott and Williams argue, represents 
a "platform for the networking human minds" that will enable us "to col- 
laborate and to learn collectively." Echoing Mark Zuckerberg's five-year 
vision of social media's revolutionary impact on the broader economy, Tap- 
scott and Williams predict that politics, education, energy, banking, health- 
care and corporate life will all be transformed by what these social Utopians 
embrace as the "openness" and "sharing" of the networked intelligence age. 

Silicon Valley's king of connections, Reid Hoffman, shares Tapscott and 
William's faith in this new social economy. At our Oxford breakfast, he in- 
sisted that network transparency rewarded integrity. When everything is 
discoverable, the former Marshall Scholar in moral philosophy explained to 
me, a trust economy will emerge in which our reputations will be determined 
by what others think of us. Networks like his own Linkedin, @quixotic 
predicts, will help create a truer meritocracy by exposing disreputable indi- 
viduals and by rewarding those with proven integrity. Rather than becoming 
the "global village" predicted by the twentieth-century communications 
guru Marshall McLuhan, then, the world will shrink into a version of a pre- 
modern village — a universal digital dorm room in which everyone will know 
everything about our slightest, most hidden or, I'm afraid, our most imagi- 
nary actions. 

This universal dorm room already exists. On today's Internet, anonymity — 
for better or worse — is dead. "These Days the Web Unmasks Everyone," 
screamed a June 2011 headline in The New York Times. "The collective intel- 
ligence of the Internet's 2 billion users, and the digital fingerprints that so 
many users leave on Web sites, combine to make it more and more likely that 


every embarrassing video, every intimate photo, and every indelicate e-mail is 
attributed to its source, whether that source wants it to be or not. This intel- 
ligence makes the public sphere more public than ever before and sometimes 
forces personal lives into public view," explains The Times social media guru 
Brian Stelter.^^ 

At the heart of this increasingly transparent and networked world will 
be what the social ideologists call "reputation banks." "Now with the web 
we leave a reputation trail," Rachel Botsford and Roo Rogers recognize in 
their collaborative consumption manifesto What's Mine Is Yours: How Col- 
laborative Consumption Is Changing the Way We Live. "With every seller we 
rate; spammer we flag; comment we leave; idea, comment, video or photo we 
post; peer we review, we leave a cumulative record of how well we collabo- 
rate and if we can be trusted."*^ 

But Botsford, Rogers, Tapscott, Williams and the rest of the social media 
quixotics are wrong that the Internet is resulting in a new age of "networked 
intelligence." In fact, the reverse may well be true. From Zuckerberg's Face- 
book, Hoffman's Linkedin and Stone's Twitter to SocialEyes, SocialCam, 
foursquare, ImageSocial, Instagram, Living Social and the myriad of other 
digital drivers of John Doerr's third great wave, the network is creating more 
social conformity and herd behavior. "Men aren't sheep," argued John Stuart 
Mill, the nineteenth century's greatest critic of Benthamite utilitarianism, in 
his 1859 defense of individual freedom On Liberty}^ Yet on the social 
network, we seem to be thinking and behaving more and more like sheep, 
making what cultural critic Neil Strauss describes as "the need to belong,"^^ 
rather than genuine nonconformity, the rule. 

"While the Web has enabled new forms of collective action, it has also 
enabled new kinds of collective stupidity," argues Jonas Lehrer, a contribut- 
ing editor to Wired magazine and a best-selling writer on both neuroscience 
and psychology. "Groupthink is now more more widespread, as we cope 


with the excess of available information by outsourcing our beliefs to celeb- 
rities, pundits and Facebook friends. Instead of thinking for ourselves, we 
simply cite what's already been cited."^^ 

The degeneration of "the smart group" into what Lehrer calls "the dumb 
herd" can be increasingly seen in Web 3.0 networks. Take, for example, the 
Silicon Valley network, AngelList, designed to build what it calls "social 
proof" for technology entrepreneurs and angel investors. Yet, as Bryce Rob- 
erts, the co-founder of O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures argues, in a controver- 
sial explanation of why he deleted his AngelList account,'^^ " 'social proof is 
turning into a form of peer pressure where angels feel compelled to invest for 
fear of missing the boat everyone else is getting on." Roberts isn't alone in his 
skepticism about the value of social proof Another AngelList sceptic, GRP 
Partners venture capitalist Mark Suster agreed, adding "my biggest fear is that 
people confuse the 'social proof of other prominent investors on AngelList 
for real insight."^^ 

But Jonas Lehrer reminds us that real insight means "thinking for one- 
self" — something that, in spite of the messianic promise that we are on the 
verge of an age of networked intelligence, is increasingly in short supply on 
today's social Web. 

Yes, in a social media world dominated by Lehrer's Groupthink, "think- 
ing for oneself" is increasingly scarce. "The crowd was at the heart of some 
of the most memorable events of 2011, demonstrating the power of the 
group driven by common identity and capacity for decision-making," thus 
noted the Financial Times about a year defined by the collective actions of 
the Arab Spring, the London riots and the Occupy Wall Street movement. 
"They are classic examples of the herd mentality — the shared and self- 
regulated thinking of individuals in a group."'^^ 

Or as David Carr (@carr2n). The New York Times media critic, tweeted 
(thereby truly uniting the collective medium with its message): "Twitter = a 


convention of charming exhibitionists w/a lot on their minds. Mass exter- 
nalization of thought creates hive mind." 

Let's Get Naked 

At the March 2011 South By Southwest conference, in a speech entitled 
"Let's Get Naked: Benefits of Publicness versus Privacy," Jeffjarvis argued 
that the social media revolution is returning us to a preindustrial "oral 
culture" in which we will all share more and more information about our 
real selves. This "publicness," for Jarvis, will result in a more tolerant soci- 
ety because everything will be known about everyone and thus traditional 
social taboos, such as homosexuality, will supposedly be undermined. Jar- 
vis argues that by openly revealing their sexual preferences in the social 
media age, the homosexual is saying "too bad, I'm public just like you."^^ 
Thus, in a blog post published just before his speech, Jarvis wrote that "the 
best solution is to be yourself" Our reputations, he said, depend on us 
sharing more and more of our identity with the world. "An act of transpar- 
ency," Jarvis quoted Harvard University Berkman Center philosopher 
David Weinberger, "must be an act of forgiveness."^^ 

Borrowing liberally from the communitarian theories of German social 
thinker Jurgen Habermas, Jeffjarvis argues that social media offers us the op- 
portunity to rebuild the so-called "public sphere" of the eighteenth-century 
coffee house. But rather than plowing through the dense Habermas, a more 
instructive author to read on the so-called "public" sphere of preindustrial life 
is the nineteenth-century American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne whose 
chilling novel about life in Puritan New England, The Scarlet Letter, deals with 
the prudery of small-town society in which individuals who just want to be 
themselves have little, if any privacy from the gaze of the intolerant collective. 

One doesn't need to go back to seventeenth-century Boston to excavate 
the Scarlet Letter. Today, it can be found on the Internet, on social forums 
like Topix, where the lynch mob has publicly demonized individuals who 


have yet to be proven guilty of any crime. The New York Times notes that 
rural America's use of social media is often characterized by "hubs of unsub- 
stantiated gossip, stirring widespread resentment in communities where ties 
run deep, memories run long and anonymity is something of a novel con- 
cept."^^ In the small town of Mountain Grove, Missouri, for example, one 
mother of two was accused on Topix of being a "freak" and "a methed-out, 
doped out whore with AIDS."^^ And the problem with rural America and 
the Internet is both have very long memories. "In a small town," one Mountain 
Grove victim of online gossip explains, "rumors stay forever."^'' 

Or take, for example, what Time magazine calls "the social media trial of 
the century" — the trial in Orlando, Florida, of young mother Casey Anthony, 
accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee. Time describes the 
legal case as being "astonishingly weak," but that didn't stop the online mob 
transforming social media into "arenas for mass, lip-licking bloodlust" domi- 
nated by Facebook comments like: "think im gonna puke in my mouth over 
them trying to get an acquittal shes GAULITY GAULITY GAULITY!!! 
Justice for Cayee."^^ 

Tragically, the ideal of the universal dorm room and Jarvis's advice to "get 
naked" are more than just silly metaphors about life on the digital network. 
In the Web 3.0 world, transparency doesn't always reward integrity. The 
truth is that social media's open architecture often encourages those com- 
pletely lacking in integrity to wreck the reputations of innocent people. In- 
deed, in our hypervisible age, all it takes is a camcorder and a Skype account 
to actually destroy somebody's life. 

On September 19, 2010, a Rutgers student called Dharan Ravi tweeted 
about his eighteen-year-old dorm roommate Tyler Clementi: "Roommate 
asked for the room till midnight. I went into Molly's room and turned on 
my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay." A few days later, after 
Ravi had Skyped a live video feed of Clementi "making out with a dude," the 
young man posted on his Facebook page: "Jumping ofFthe gw bridge sorry." 


The body of the accomplished violinist, a victim of what Walter Kirn calls 
"Little Brother in the form of a prying roommate with a camera,"^^ was 
found in the Hudson River underneath the George Washington Bridge by 
police on September 29. 

Therein lies Umair Haque's "thicker, stronger, more meaningful relation- 
ships" of our hypervisible age. Social Utopians like Haque, Tapscott and Jar- 
vis are, of course, wrong. The age of networked intelligence isn't very 
intelligent. The tragic truth is that getting naked, being yourself in. the full 
public gaze of today's digital network, doesn't always result in the breaking 
down of ancient taboos. There is little evidence that networks like Facebook, 
Skype and Twitter are making us any more forgiving or tolerant. Indeed, if 
anything, these viral tools of mass exposure seem to be making society not 
only more prurient and voyeuristic, but also fuelling a mob culture of intoler- 
ance, schadenfreude and revengefulness. 

Inevitably, much of this prurience focuses on the physical act of getting 
naked. One hypervisible American politican, Anthony Weiner, the Demo- 
cratic congressman from New York, published pornographic photos of him- 
self on Twitter and engaged in erotic conversations with women he met on 
Facebook and Twitter (some of whom were fake identities created by his Re- 
publican enemies),^*^ a story that even the normally circumspect New York 
Times greeted with the headline "Naked Hubris."^^ Another, New York Re- 
publican congressman Christopher Lee, sent suggestive photographs of 
himself to a woman he met on Craigslist. After these photographs were pub- 
lished on the Internet, the social media hysteria over this inappropriate but 
not illegal behavior resulted in the destruction of both politicians' reputa- 
tions and a collective stench of vindictive self-congratulation. Then there is 
the case of Ryan Giggs, a prominent Welsh soccer player, who supposedly had 
an extramarital affair with Big Brother reality television star Imogen Thomas. 
In spite of a British High Court super injunction against broadcasting this 
information, 75,000 people tweeted Gigg's identity — an electronic mob 


clearly intent on humiliating a gifted sportsman who had done none of them 
any personal harm nor broken any law. 

The problem is more cultural than technological. As National Public Ra- 
dio's executive editor Dick Meyer argues in his perceptive 2008 book Why 
We Hate Us, we live in "an age of self-loathing" in which "everyone is part of 
a counterculture."^^ Today's Zeitgeist is a corrosive hostility toward all forms 
of authority — from politicians like Christopher Lee and Anthony Weiner to 
sporting superstars like Ryan Giggs and Lebron James^^ to reality television 
icons like Imogen Thomas. Thus, the supposedly tolerant social networks of 
JefFjarvis's dream are, in fact, fuelling the corrosive belligerence that has in- 
fected much of the snarky, gotcha public discourse in contemporary society. 

This belligerent cynicism is not only ugly, but can also be self-destructive. 
In a WikiLeaks culture where we all now have Twitter and Facebook accounts, 
many of us are tempted to become mini Julian Assanges and publicly inform 
on our bosses, our companies and sometimes even our clients or our pupils. 
But the problem is that none of us actually are Assange, with the resources 
to skip international justice and avoid the consequences of our actions. 

"Twitter is a danger zone," warns Time columnist James Poniewozik, "es- 
pecially for its most adept users."^"^ Thus, from a couple of Canadian car work- 
ers dismissed in August 2010 for writing critical comments on Facebook 
about the safety records of their dealerships^^ to the British teenagers sacked 
in February 2009 for describing her boss on Facebook as "boring"^^ to the 
New York City math schoolteacher who was fired in February 2010 for saying 
on Facebook that she hated her students' guts and wished they would drown,^^ 
to the voice of the Aflac duck fired for tweeting jokes about the 2011 Japanese 
tsunami,^^ to the British plumber on trial for tweeting about his wife's alleged 
extramarital afFair,^^ to the eleven-year-old girl in southern England who 
posted sexually derogatory messages on a ten-year-old friend's Facebook 
account,"^^ to the 11,000 menacing tweets posted about a Maryland Buddhist 
leader by a fellow Buddhist,^^ we are finding that JefFjarvis's call to "get 


naked" and broadcast our honest opinions on the network results not in 
forgiveness or more personal integrity, but instead in unemployment, crimi- 
nal charges and public humiliation. 

In 1940, eight years before he wrote Nineteen Eighty-four, George 
Orwell wrote an essay entitled "Inside the Whale" in which, noting that 
"the ordinary man" is "passive," he argued that professional writers should 
be actively engaged in the social issues of their day. "The whale's belly is sim- 
ply a womb big enough for an adult," Orwell wrote. "There you are, in the 
dark, cushioned space that exactly fits you, with yards of blubber between 
yourself and reality, able to keep up an attitude of the completest indiffer- 
ence, no matter what happens.""^^ 

But just as a networked mob of twenty-first-century small brothers have 
replaced Orwell's solitary twentieth-century Big Brother, so the passivity of 
being inside the whale has been replaced in our social media age by the 
crude mindlessness of much so-called public discourse. Orwell was right, in 
1940, to critique people who retreat inside the whale; but if he was around 
today, with 75,000 people on Twitter illegally broadcasting the intimate 
details of a stranger's sex life and the tens of thousands of people baying for 
the blood of a young woman who hasn't been proven guilty of any crime, 
one wonders if Orwell would have been so critical of those "yards of blub- 
ber," that "dark, cushioned space" that separates us from what he called "re- 

Zuckerberg's Law 

In January 2011, four months after Tyler Clementi jumped off the George 
Washington Bridge, a couple of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs released a geo- 
location app called which enables men to aggregate 
foursquare data to track local bars or clubs popular with women. And a 
couple of months after that, some other entrepreneurs started up Whoworks. 
at, an app that — deploying Linkedin data — reveals where we work. 


Yet, instead of or, what really lies on 
the five-year horizon is Wherel' That's the Orwellian future of the In- 
ternet. — however chilling for those of us who still cherish our 
illegibility — is being embraced in Silicon Valley where Ownlife has already 
been dumped into the dustbin of history. @quixotic is far from alone in de- 
claring privacy to be dead. "The progression toward a more public society is 
apparent and inevitable," predicts the gleefully deterministic Jeff Jarvis 
about our hypervisible age.'*^ And technology titans like Google executive 
chairman Eric Schmidt, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, ex-Sun Microsystems 
CEO Scott McNealy, Techcrunch founder Mike Arrington and social me- 
dia uber-evangelist Robert Scoble all concur, declaring privacy to be little 
more than a corpse. While Sean Parker, Facebook's first president whose 
new company, you'll remember, is planning to eliminate loneliness, says 
simply that privacy "isn't an issue.'"^"* In the twenty-first century, they agree, 
all information will be shared. Individual privacy is a relic, they say. It has a 
past, but no future. 

For many of these supposed visionaries, the death of privacy is no differ- 
ent, in principle, from the retirement of the horse and cart or the disappear- 
ance of gaslights from city streets. "Today's creepy is tomorrow's necessity," 
Sean Parker thus argues. The disappearance of privacy is a casualty of prog- 
ress, Parker and his fellow entrepreneurs promise us, just another conse- 
quence of technological change. Yet these entrepreneurs and futurists are 
blinkered by their ability to only look forward, onto that five-, ten-, or fifi:y- 
year horizon. They have no interest or knowledge in the history of privacy, 
in the intimate connection between individual liberty and individual auton- 
omy, in the consequences on Ownlife of today's universal digital dormroom. 

"Expressing our authentic identity will become even more pervasive in 
the coming year," thus projects Facebook's Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl 
Sandberg, about the continued demise of individual privacy in 2012 — a de- 
velopment from which, of course she and her company will radically profit. 


"Profiles will no longer be outlines, but detailed self-portraits of who we re- 
ally are, including the books we read, the music we listen to, the distances we 
run, the places we travel, the causes we support, the video of cats we laugh at, 
our likes and our links. And yes, this shift to authenticity will take getting 
used to and will elicit cries of lost privacy.'"^^ 

This banal unsentimentality about privacy's corpse is encapsulated by 
Scott McNealy who, as early as 1999, said, "you have zero privacy anyway — 
get over it." Eric Schmidt, the ex- Google CEO who confessed to "screwing 
up" the company's social networking strategy,^^ even had the audacity to 
say, in response to a question about his company's right to retain our per- 
sonal data, that anyone concerned with online privacy had "something to 
hide." "If you don't want anyone to know," the willfully empirical Schmidt 
said, with classic Benthamite ignorance about the complexity of the human 
condition, "don't do it."^'' In August 2010 the former Google CEO even 
told the Wall Street Journal that the young people of the future should be 
"entitled to automatically be able to change his or her name on reaching adult- 
hood" because of all the incriminating online information about them."^^ 

Most ominously of all, the social media revolution's chief-rewiring- 
officer, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg — whose company 
is developing the utilitarian Gross Happiness Index to quantify global 
sentiment^^ — has not only declared the age of privacy to be over^° but has 
also invented his own historical law to explain this dramatic change in so- 
cial life. "I would expect that next year, people will share twice as much in- 
formation as they share this year, and next year, they will be sharing twice as 
much as they did the year before," thus, he mapped out his own eponymous 

"Zuckerberg's Law" is one which its young author wants, in every sense, 
to own. At the Facebook f8 Conference in April 2010, he laid out his vision 
of transforming the Web into a series of "instantly social experiences" tied 
together by the company's Open-Graph and Social Plugins technology. 


Zuckerberg told the conference that "we are building a web where the default 
is social."^^ 

A year later, at the September 20 11 f8 conference, Mark Zuckerberg gave 
his eponymous law what Liz Cannes, AllThingsD's social media expert, de- 
scribed as "a big push."^^ Adding something called "Frictionless Sharing" to 
his Open Graph integration, Zuckerberg is, in the ominous words of serial 
Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ben Elowitz, "boldly annexing the web" by es- 
tablishing a "social operating system" which will turn Facebook into "the 
hub for every user's action — watching a video, reviewing a recipe, reading an 
article, and much more."^'^ 

Facebook 's new social operating system, introduced at the 2011 f8, is 
designed, according to the scrupulously impartial journalism site Poynter, 
to turn "sharing into a thoughtless process in which everything we read, 
watch or listen to is shared with our friends automatically."^^ Zuckerberg's 
goal with Frictionless Sharing on the Open Graph is to encourage its hun- 
dreds of millions of members to automatically share what they are reading 
on the London Guardian and Wall Street Journal, what they are listening to 
on Spotify and Rhapsody, what they are watching on YouTube and Hulu, 
and where exactly they happen to be driving, flying, eating, or sleeping. 

"If you read articles in The New York Times, for instance, Facebook will 
begin to know your interests, your views, your reading habits, your diversity 
of views, your passions and pursuits, as well as the friends you are sharing 
the material with. It will know what you encounter — and also what you 
want to encounter," warns Ben Elowitz. "This is a massive change from the 
status quo."^^ 

No wonder that the headline in the Financial Times about the Open 
Graph advises us to "take care how you share"^^ or that the parallel headline 
on AllThingsD warns us to "prepare for the oversharing explosion."''^ No 
wonder, either, that Poynter worries about the "chilling effect" of this over- 
sharing on "online privacy"^^ or that Ben Werd, CTO of the video streaming 


Start-Up Latakoo describes it as "undeniably creepy, to a level we've been hith- 
erto unprepared for in human society."^^ 

Equally creepy, is Facebook's introduction in December 2011 of "Time- 
line," a feature that, according the New York Times's Jenna Wortham, 
"makes a user's entire history of photos, links and other things on Facebook 
accessible with a single click." As Wortham notes. Timeline will "make it 
harder to shed past identities," to reinvent oneself and thus to forget the 
past. "All the mouse droppings that appear as we migrate around the Web 
will be saved," warns Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain about a prod- 
uct that grants Mark Zuckerberg possession of our most precious thing — 
the story of our lives. ^^ Perhaps it's no wonder then that in 2011 Forbes 
magazine ranked Zuckerberg, the owner of all our life histories, the ninth 
most powerful person in the world, more powerful than either the British 
Prime Minister, the Presidents of Brazil, France and India or the Pope.*^^ 

Facebook's Open Graph integration and Timeline feature what is known, 
in Silicon Valley, as a "platform play." By sticking Facebook Connect plug-ins 
and buttons on every Web site and mobile app, by automating the broadcast 
of our online media consumption through frictionless sharing, and by ac- 
cessing our lives with a single click, Facebook is trying to own the social web. 
And owning this social web means owning all of us, too. "By knowing us 
intimately — who we are, what we do, and what our interests are — Facebook 
is in the position to answer our every desire," explains Ben Elowitz about this 
new social operating system. ''^ And that's why Mark Zuckerberg's private 
company was valued by Goldman Sachs in January 2011 at over $50 bil- 
lion, ^'^ which is more than the annual GDP of 80 percent of African 
countries^^ — a price the financial writer William D. Cohan described as 
"vertigo-inducing,"^^ yet one that authoritative business journalists in 
both The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal believe could turn 
out to be a "bargain" because of the increasingly ubiquity of social me- 
dia.^^ These Facebook bulls may well be right. By late March 2011, Face- 


book's value had surged to $85 billion^^ with some even predicting that 
the Mark Zuckerberg production will eventually top $100 billion after its 
2012 IPO. 

As Facebook historian David Kirkpatrick argues, "Facebook is ft^unded 
on a radical social premise — that an inevitable enveloping transparency will 
overtake modern life."^^ In this zeal ft)r radical transparency, Zuckerberg, 
Sandberg, and the other Silicon Valley social media moguls and evangelists 
are today's utilitarian social reformers. Like Jeremy Bentham, these enlight- 
ened pied pipers of great exhibitionism promise that by separating us as indi- 
vidual nodes on the collective network, digital technology can bring us 
together for the benefit both of society and of the individual. Like Bentham's 
Inspection-House, this is presented as a virtuous circle — a magical staircase 
elevating us up to a future world in which individual freedom and social har- 
mony are both abundant. More individual transparency on the network 
through technologies like Open Graph and Timeline, social media ideo- 
logues promise, leads to a "healthier society";''^ more truth leads to more to- 
getherness, they say; and more togetherness, their logic spirals, leads to a 
better society. 

But like Bentham's creepy greatest happiness principle, which reduces 
human beings to simple abacuses of pleasure and pain, Zuckerberg's creepy 
conception of individual identity fails to grasp the complexity of the human 
condition. Rather than the mysterious thing at the heart of every human 
being, identity for the young multi billionaire is as quantifiable as a line of 
computer code. Like Bentham, Zuckerberg is a "cost-benefit expert on a 
grand-scale"''^ who views human identity in the strictly empirical terms of a 
perpetual child. 

"You have one identity. Having two identities for yourself is an example 
of a lack of integrity," was thus how Zuckerberg — who, of course, wants to 
own and profit from that single identity — calculated in 2009.^^ But Zucker- 
berg's utilitarian notion of identity, like Sheryl Sandberg's idea of "authentic 


identity" squeezes all the ambiguity and subtlety — the unquantifiable 
humanness — out of the human condition. 

Take, for example, MingleBird, the event networking start-up launched 
in February 2011,''^ that is designed to make conference networking less 
awkward. MingleBird provides something called "MingleWbrds" that auto- 
matically provides users with the language to meet strangers at events. On 
MingleBird life is turned into a childish game, a quantifiably Huxleyan 
world in which social awkwardness — that most human of qualities — is 
replaced with a networking tool that not only automatically introduces 
people to strangers but also awards them points if they then have their pho- 
tos taken together. 

Worse still, today's digital network is commodifying friendship so that it 
becomes, quite literally, the currency of the new social economy. Online ser- 
vices like Klout, Peerlndex, Kred, and Hashable value us by quantifying our 
social influence.'^^ Kleiner's first sFund investment Cafebot, and 
the AOL-acquired About. me^^ provide online platforms for super nodes to 
manage their assets. There is even a "social media exchange" called Empire 
Avenue that has established a stock market in the buying and selling of indi- 
vidual reputations. 

Wealth equals connectivity in the Web 3.0 world. The more "friends" you 
have on Twitter or Facebook, therefore, the more potentially valuable you 
become in terms of getting your friends to buy or do things. We "manage" 
our friends in the social networking world in the same way as we "manage" 
our assets in the financial marketplace. "There is something Orwellian about 
the management speak on social networking sites," notes the ever perceptive 
Christine Rosen, who adds that such terminology encourages "the bureau- 
cratization of friendship."^'' 

Yes, George Orwell still matters. "Most people who bother with the mat- 
ter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way," Orwell 
worried about the political and economic corruption of language in his 


great 1946 essay "Politics and the English Language."'''^ But even the author 
of Newspeak and the Ministry of Truth never imagined the new language 
of Facebook — a development Jhe Atlantic's Ben Zimmer describes as "the 
rise of the Zuckerverb." At the 2011 f8 conference, the event you'll remem- 
ber when Mark Zuckerberg introduced the doublethink of "frictionless 
sharing," he also launched a new language that included verbs. "When we 
started, the vocabulary was really limited. You could only express a small 
number of things, like who you were friends with. Then last year, when we 
introduced the Open Graph, we added nouns, so you could like anything 
that you wanted. This year we're adding verbs. We're going to make it so you 
can connect to anything in any way you want," Zuckerberg announced, 
without any self-evident irony, at f8.^^ 

One wonders what new social language Zuckerberg will introduce at f8 
2012 to improve our connectivity. The Zuckerconjunction, perhaps. 

In his critique of Zuckerberg's choice of words, Jhe Atlantic's Ben Zim- 
mer notes that "language is being recast in a more profound way, turned into 
a utilitarian tool for "expressing" relationships to objects in the world in a 
remarkably unexpressive fashion."^^ And this Orwellian corruption of 
language is, of course, a reflection of a deeper and more troubling political 
and economic malaise. As Jeremiah Owyang, a social media analyst at the 
Altimeter Group notes the problem with the Zuckerverb and with utilitar- 
ian networks like Klout and Kred is that they "lack sentimental analysis."^° 
In this economy friendship is transformed from a private pleasure without 
monetary value into a profit center. Take, for example, eEvent, a start-up so- 
cial platform that financially rewards people who encourage their friends to 
attend an event.^^ But do any of us really want "friends" who profit finan- 
cially if we attend an event, buy an airline ticket or eat at a restaurant? 

As the twentieth-century American philosopher John Dewey recognized, 
our personalities are neither as rationally self-interested, quantifiable or fixed 
as Zuckerberg or the other evangelists of social media believe. Rather than 


"something complete, perfect, finished, an organized whole of parts united 
by the impress of a comprehensive form," our individual identity, Dewey ar- 
gued, is actually "something moving, changing, discrete, and above all initi- 
ating instead of final."^^ And this may be why Dewey believed that "of all 
affairs, communication is the most wonderful."^^ 

And this also explains why, as Wall Street Journal columnist and former 
Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan reminds us, America is a place of "sec- 
ond chances" in which the essence of our liberty is rooted in our right to shed 
a previous identity and reinvent ourselves as different individuals. "Gam- 
blers, bounders, ne'er-do-wells, third sons in primogeniture cultures — most 
of us came here to escape something!" Noonan says about the cultural com- 
plexity of the American experience. "Our people came here not only for a 
new chance but to disappear, hide out, tend their wounds, and summon the 
energy, in turn, to impress the dopes back home."^*^ 

Indeed, if we are to believe Aaron Sorkin's screenplay of The Social Net- 
work, even Mark Zuckerberg himself is an example of a young American 
who went west — fleeing from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Palo Alto, 
California — to escape a broken relationship with his original Facebook co- 
founder and begin all over again. Yet, for Zuckerberg, it seems, there is 
nothing problematic about the unforgiving nature of individual transpar- 
ency and network openness. 

"To get people to this point where there's more openness — that's a big 
challenge," Zuckerberg thus confessed with the straight-faced understatement 
of a spokesman from the Ministry of Truth about his grand historical project 
to reengineer the human condition. "But I think we'll do it. I just think it will 
take time. The concept that the world will be better if you share more is some- 
thing that's pretty foreign to a lot of people and it runs into all these privacy 

Privacy concc-ns, eh, Mark? Yes, I have one or two. 



Brock Anton: Maced in the face, hit with a Button, tear gassed twice, 6 broken fingers, 
blood everywhere, punched afucken pig in head with riot gear on knocked him to the 
ground, through the jersey on a burning cop car flipped some cars, burnt some smart 
cars, burnt some cop cars, I'm on the news .... One word . . . History ©©© 

Ashley Pehota: brockkkk! Take this down!!! Its evidence!^ 

Privacy Concerns 

Let's start with three of my deepest concerns about individual privacy and 
autonomy in the age of networked intelligence. Firstly, what exactly will be 
the fate of privacy when you and I and everyone else are trapped, for better 
or worse, in a radically transparent network of "frictionless sharing" that 
has done away with secrecy and solitariness? Secondly, what happens in just 
eight years' time, in 2020, when everything — from our intelligent cars to our 
intelligent televisions to our intelligent telephones to our other 50 billion 
networked devices — are connected? And thirdly, what are the human im- 
plications of this great rewiring, this cult of the social which, according 
to Don Tapscott and Doug Williams, represents a grand historical turning 
point equal to the Renaissance in the history of mankind? 

We've already described Mark Zuckerberg's first five-year plan of trans- 
forming the world into a social experience. But there's a second five-year plan, 
too, and it's even more chilling than the first. In ten years' time, according to 
Zuckerberg, "a thousand times more information about each individual will 
flow through Facebook." That's Zuckerberg's Law. And what it means, he 


predicts, is that "people are going to have a device with them at all times that's 
[automatically] sharing" this cornucopia of personal information.^ 

What it means is that everyone — via transparent online networks like 
SocialEyes, Hotlist, Facebook's Open Graph and Timeline, SocialCam, 
Waze, Tripit, Plancast and Into. now — will know everything we are doing, 
watching, reading, buying, eating and, most ominously, thinking. What it 
means is that, in ten years' time, we'll have eliminated loneliness and the 
only place you'll be able to find privacy is in museums, where its corpse will, 
no doubt, be hung next to pictures of the human condition by old masters 
like Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt Van Rijn. 

But, like Jeremy Bentham, Mark Zuckerberg is wrong — radically wrong 
that this shared future makes us more human, wrong that this "automatic 
sharing" of information necessarily makes the world a better place, wrong 
that Zuckerberg's Law benefits either society or the self Rather than a virtu- 
ous cycle, this social media revolution may well represent a descent — perhaps 
even a dizzying fall — into a vicious cycle of less and less individual freedom, 
weaker and weaker communal ties, and more and more unhappiness. 

Rather than the next Renaissance, the age of networked intelligence 
could well represent a new Dark Ages, a nonfictional remix of the feudal 
world of John Balliol, with its radical economic and cultural inequalities, its 
myriad of fragmented worlds and its hierarchical networks of interna- 
tional elites. Instead of making us happier and more connected, social 
media's siren song — the incessant calls to digitally connect, the cultural 
obsession with transparency and openness, the never-ending demand to 
share everything about ourselves with everyone else — is, in fact, both a sig- 
nificant cause and effect of the increasingly vertiginous nature of twenty- 
first-century life. 

The inconvenient truth is that social media, for all its communitarian 
promises, is dividing rather than bringing us together, creating what Walter 
Kirn describes as a "fragmentarian society."^ In our digital age, we are, iron- 


ically, becoming more divided than united, more unequal than equal, more 
anxious than happy, lonelier rather than more socially connected. A No- 
vember 2009 Pew Research report about "Social Isolation and New Technol- 
ogy,"^ for example, found that members of networks like Facebook, Twitter, 
MySpace and Linkedin are 26 percent less likely to spend time with their 
neighbors (thus, ironically, creating the need for social networks like and Yatown that connect local communities). A 2007 Brigham 
Young University research study, which analysed 184 social media users, 
concluded that the heaviest networkers "feel less socially involved with the 
community around them."^ While a meta-analysis of seventy-two separate 
studies conducted between 1979 and 2009 by the University of Michigan's 
Institute for Social Research showed that contemporary American college 
students are 40 percent less empathetic than their counterparts in the 1980s 
and 1990s. ^ Even our tweets are becoming sadder, with a study made by 
scientists from the University of Vermont of 63 million Twitter users be- 
tween 2009 and 201 1 proving that "happiness is going downhill."^ 

Most troubling of all, a fifteen-year study of 300 social media subjects by 
Professor Sherry Turkic,^ the director of MIT's Initiative on Technology 
and the Self, showed that perpetual networking activity is actually under- 
mining many parents' relationship with their children.^ "Technology pro- 
poses itself as the architect of our intimacies," Turkic says about the digital 
architecture in which we are now all living. But the truth, her decade and a 
half of research reveals, is quite the reverse. Technology, she finds, has be- 
come our "phantom limb,"^^ particularly for young people who, Turkic finds, 
are sending up to 6,000 social media announcements a day and who have 
never either written nor received a handwritten letter. No wonder, then, that 
teens have not only stopped using email, but also no longer use the 
telephone — both are too intimate, too private for a digital generation that 
uses texting as a "protection" for their "feelings."^^ 

Turkle's conclusion on what she calls today's always online "post-familial 


family" is disturbing, particularly when imagined in terms of the Internet 
as architecture comprising many small theaters in which we are entirely 
alone. "Their members are alone-together each in their own rooms, each on 
a networked computer or mobile device," she concludes her depressing study 
of our Internet habits. "We go online because we are busy but end up spend- 
ing more time with technology and less with each other."^^ Perhaps it's not 
surprising, therefore, that, according to one American law firm, 20 percent of 
new divorce cases reference inappropriate sexual conversations on Face- 
book as a factor in the marriage breakup. ^^ Here, Turkle's notion of tech- 
nology proposing itself as "the architect of our intimacies" is sadly prescient. 
The problem with flirting on Facebook is that Mark Zuckerberg's creation 
has been architected as a public dorm room rather than as a private bed- 
room. That's why so many extra-marital Facebook intimacies are ending up 
in the divorce court. 

It's not just veteran academics like Sherry Turkle who worry about the 
solitariness of hypervisible life in the social media age. Jean Meyer, the 
twenty-eight-year-old founder of, an Internet match- 
making service for college students that prioritizes privacy over social trans- 
parency, concurs with Turkle about the failure of the wired generation to 
establish emotion connections with each other. "People in the 21st century 
are alone," Meyer told The New York Times in February 2011. "We have so 
many new ways of communicating, yet we are so alone."^^ 

Not only is networking technology dividing us from others, but it is also 
splintering the self "You have one identity," Mark Zuckerberg infamously 
said. But just as social is remaking every industry, so it is also splintering 
traditional notions of individual personality and thus breaching Zucker- 
berg's childish and self-serving notion of identity. In describing what she 
calls the "practice of the protean self,"'^ MIT's Turkle argues that "we have 
moved from multitasking to multi-lifing."^^ But while we are forever culti- 
vating our collaborative self, she argues, what is being lost is our experience 


of being alone and privately reflecting on our emotions. The end result, Turkle 
explains, is a perpetual juvenile, somebody she calls a "tethered child,"^^ the 
type of person who, like one of Turkle's subjects in her study, believes that 
"if Facebookwere deleted, I'd be deleted too."^^ 

Dalton Conley, New York University's professor of Social Sciences, 
offers a similar critique to Turkle of today's networked protean self He 
describes the people of our digital age as "intraviduals" — fragmented souls 
always caught between identities, possessing "multiple selves competing for 
attention within his/her own mind, just as externally, she or he is bom- 
barded by multiple stimuli simultaneously."^^ Rather than the coherent and 
centered individual identity of analog man, therefore, the intradividual's 
plastic "self" reflects the perpetual flux of social media's myriad streams of 
information. As Guy Debord, a twentieth-century critic of electronic soci- 
ety, noted in his Situationalist manifesto Society of the Spectacle, the "society 
which eliminates geographical distance reproduces distance internally as 
spectacular separation."^^ 

Turkle and Conley's sociological observations about the perpetually di- 
vided and ungrounded self are also supported by scientists like Oxford Uni- 
versity neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield. Greenfield — who debated 
Second Life founder Philip Rosedale at the "Silicon Valley Comes to Ox- 
ford" event about the reality of virtual reality — claims that social media 
networks like Facebook and the 140-character Twitter shorten our atten- 
tion spans and fragment our brains with their incessant updates and con- 
tinual need to reiterate our online existence. 

"We know how small babies need constant reassurance that they exist," 
Professor Greenfield explains, perhaps also offering a scientific explanation 
for the thinking of Jeremy Bentham, that "boy to the last," behind his Auto- 
Icon. "My fear is that these technologies are infantilizing the brain into the 
state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, 
who have a small attention span and who live for the moment."^^ 


The Digital Aristocrazia 

No, social media isn't very social. "The ties that we form through the Inter- 
net are not, in the end, the ties that bind," Sherry Turkic reminds us. And 
as best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell argues in a New Yorker critique of 
Clay Shirky's communitarian politics, "the platforms of social media are 
built around weak ties,"^^ thus turning us into perpetual joiners rather than 
the active participants that political theorists like Alexis de Tocqueville saw 
as the essential ingredients of a successful democracy. So social media net- 
works connect people that mostly haven't and will never meet, thereby 
transforming these "communities" into libertarian aggregations of autono- 
mous intraviduals in constant motion who reinvent their identities at will, 
and who join, unjoin then rejoin these groups with the click of a mouse. 

We caught a glimpse of this dystopian future during the English riots of 
August 2011, where the Utopian ideal of "networked intelligence" was trans- 
formed into a distributed, viral version of ^ Clockwork Orange. Utilizing 
Twitter, Facebook and the private BBM messaging system on RIM's Black- 
Berry network, individual rioters were able to use "social" media to keep one 
step ahead of the police, forming and reforming in real-time as they systemati- 
cally destroyed neighborhoods and looted stores. Arguing that the use of so- 
cial media in the riots was a "mirror" to society, Google chairman Eric Schmidt 
insists that we shouldn't "blame the internet" for this civic disorder. ^^ In one 
sense, Schmidt is right and, like him, I strongly disagree with calls by English 
politicians for either Twitter and Facebook "blackouts"^"^ during emergencies 
or for the "banning"^^ of suspected rioters from social media. But Schmidt 
misses the real meaning of the riots. Rather than a one-way mirror, the Inter- 
net is, as the fictional Sean Parker said, where we now live. So when we look at 
the Internet, we are gazing at something that reflects not only ourselves but 
also the dominant values of society. The highly individualized 2011 riots are, 
in many ways, therefore indistinguishable from social media — they are the 
mirror of a networked world in which we are living alone together. This is a 


world inhabited by Conley's "intradividuals" who collectively make up Walter 
Kirn's "fragmentarian society." It's a world that Joshua Cooper Ramo, a for- 
mer editor at Time, dubs our "Age of the Unthinkable" — an epoch character- 
ized by endless viral disorder and real-time social pandemics. ^'^ 

The BlackBerry fuelled, nihilistic riots of 201 1 are, however, only one reflec- 
tion of our social media age. The other, politically more positive side are today's 
popular demonstrations against economic injustice such as Occupy Wall Street 
(OWS) driven, in part, by networks like Facebook and Twitter. As a mirror of 
the Internet, OWS is a loosely organized, hyper-democratic movement which 
encourages everyone to tell their own unique stories on networks like the pro- 
tean WeArethe99Percent Tumblr blog. Thus, the 10,000 to 15,000 tweets an 
hour, the 900 OWS events set up on and the thousands of Face- 
book groups dedicated to the national protests^"^ are all a reflection of our 
fragmentarian society in which we, as intraviduals with multiple selves, are 
using social media as our personalized and often narcissistic broadcast plat- 
forms. And so, as the politically progressive Guardian columnist Simon 
Jenkins notes, "with no leaders, no policies, no programme beyond opposi- 
tion to status quo," the OWS protests are, like Facebook or Twitter them- 
selves, just background noise, a never-ending conversation, "mere scenery."^^ 

Of course, not all political protest organized via social media is purely 
scenic. I happened to be in Moscow in December 2011, on the weekend of 
the election that triggered the very real protests against Vladimir Putin's 
regime and, as I acknowledged in a CNN dispatch,^^ there is no doubt that 
Russian social media networks like Livejournal and Vkontakte, as well as 
Twitter and Facebook, were critical in organizing these popular demonstra- 
tions. Indeed, from Moscow's Lubyanka Square to Wall Street's Zuccotti 
Park to Cairo's Tahrir Square, 2011 was the year that social media became 
an important organizational tool in challenging economic and political 
injustice. Time magazine even made "The Protestor" its 2011 Person of the 
Year and, as Kurt Andersen, who wrote Time's cover story for this issue, ^° 


told me on my TechcrunchTV show, the initial Arab Spring rebellions 
could never have happened without social media.^^ 

But even in the contemporary Middle East, it still remains unclear how 
central a role social media will play in the formation of democratic govern- 
ments. Judging by the speed with which the political optimism of the Arab 
Spring has evaporated, the auguries for Twitter or Facebook helping build 
the architecture of democracy in Egypt, Palestine or Tunisia are not partic- 
ularly encouraging. The problem is that political democracy is more than 
just the so-called "people power" of fanciful Facebook users committed to 
the same vague political cause. For example, one member of the Palestinian 
social media "March 15 movement" described it as a leaderless association of 
"bubbles" that has yet to congeal.^^ While another Palestinian activist, 
sounding like an OWS protestor dreamily described the goal of the move- 
ment as to "liberate the minds of our people." But, for democracy to congeal 
in organizations like March 15, for 201 1 to avoid becoming a repeat of 1848, 
another year of failed revolutions against authoritarian states, leaders have to 
emerge and translate social media's undoubted potential into properly fi- 
nanced, structured movements with accountable leadership and a viable politi- 
cal agenda that goes beyond the vague promise of liberating people's minds. 

Besides, in spite of Kurt Anderson's faith in The Protestor, it's not really 
clear how central the role of social networks have been in the overthrow of 
repressive regimes in the Middle East — especially since even in the rela- 
tively advanced Egypt only 5 percent of the citizens use Facebook and 1 
percent are on Twitter.^^ "We've had a lot of revolutions before Twitter," 
George Friedman, the geo-strategic futurist and best-selling author of ZOll's 
The Next Decade: Where We've Been . . . And Where We're Going,^^ reminded 
me when he appeared on my TechcrunchTV show in April 201 1. In the Egypt 
of early 2011, Friedman explained, the vast majority of Egyptian citizens 
viewed what he regards as the staged uprising against the Mubarak regime with 
suspicion. The "ignorance" of the Western media is "breathtaking," Friedman 


told me, when it comes to exaggerating the role of social media in contempo- 
rary political upheaval. And that's because, he explained, extensive use of 
social media in authoritarian societies seems to confirm western liberal val- 
ues. "If they tweet," Friedman dryly commented on the western media's 
self-centered obsession with Twitter or Facebook, "they must be like us." 

And sometimes, I'm afraid, if f hey tweet, they actually are us. Take, for 
example, the case of the imprisoned Syrian lesbian blogger, Amina Araf, dur- 
ing the 2011 revolution against the Baathite regime in Syria. Fourteen thou- 
sand Facebook users loaned their names to a campaign to release Araf from 
jail. The only problem was that Araf turned out to be a fake. "She" was really 
Tom MacMaster, a failed American writer living in Scotland with as much 
experience of life inside a Syrian jail as you or I.^^ 

So what is the real value of social media in repressive regimes? "Twitter is a 
wonderful tool for secret policeman to find revolutionaries," Friedman told 
me. His analysis reflects the so-called "Morozov Principle"^^ of Stanford 
University scholar Evgeny Morozov, whose 2010 book. The Net Delusion: 
The Dark Side of Internet Freedonr'^ argues that social media tools are being 
used by secret policemen in undemocratic states like Iran, Syria, and China 
to spy on dissidents. As Morozov told me when he appeared on my Tech- 
crunchTV show in January 2011,^^ these authoritarian governments are 
using the Internet in classic Benthamite fashion — relying on social networks 
to monitor the behavior, activities and thoughts of their own citizens. In 
China, Thailand, and Iran, therefore, the use of Facebook can literally be a 
facecrime and the Internet's architecture has become a vast Inspection- 
House, a wonderful tool for secret policemen who no longer even need to leave 
their desks to persecute their own people. In November 2011, for example, the 
Thai government warned Facebook users who "liked" antimonarchy groups 
that they would be liable for prosecution.^^ A month later, the Chinese gov- 
ernment announced tough new laws that required people to register with their 
real names on indigenous social networks like Sina and Tencent.'*^ Then in 


January 2012, Iran imposed equally "draconian" restrictions on the country's 
cybercafes designed to spy on Iranian social media users."^^ 

Visibility can often be the bloodiest, most tragic kind of trap. The Moro- 
zov Principle extends to criminal gangs who are intimidating and even exe- 
cuting social media users as a warning against online whistle-blowing. In 
Mexico, for example, where some particularly reactionary local politicians 
want to make the use of Twitter illegal,'*^ g^i^gs have taken revenge on citi- 
zens who use social media to denounce drug cartel activity. "A woman was 
hogtied and disemboweled, her intestines protruding from three deep cuts 
on her abdomen. Attackers left her topless, dangling by her feet and hands 
from a bridge in the border city of Nuevo Laredo. A bloodied man next to 
her was hanging by his hands, his right shoulder severed so deeply the bone 
was visible," reports CNN on the killings in Mexico. "This is going to hap- 
pen to all of those posting funny things on the Internet," a sign, left near the 
bodies, said. "You better (expletive) pay attention. I'm about to get you."'^^ 

The Nev\f Numerati 

Not only is social media being used by repressive regimes or oganizations to 
strengthen their hold on power, but it is also compounding the ever-widening 
inequalities between the influencers and the new digital masses. If identity is 
the new currency and reputation the new wealth of the social media age, then 
today's hypervisible digital elite is becoming a tinier and tinier proportion of the 
population. Reid Hoffman believes that the Internet's empowerment of the in- 
dividual increases what he calls "the liquidity of the individual."^"^ But for all the 
egalitarian rhetoric of super-nodes like Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) with over 
200,000 Twitter followers and Jeff Jarvis (@JefFjarvis) with nearly 100,000, 
some people — liquid people like Scoble and Jarvis — are, to borrow another of 
Orwell's chilling phrases, much "more equal than others"'^^ on today's net- 
work. On Twitter, for example, only 0.05 percent of people have more than 
10,000 followers with 22.5 percent of users accounting for 90 percent of activ- 


ity,'*^ thus reflecting the increasingly unequal power structure of an attention 
economy in which the most valuable currency is being heard above the noise. 

"Monopolies are actually even more likely in highly networked markets like 
the online world," wrote /^r^/^ editor-in-chief Chris Anderson. "The dark side 
of network effects is that rich nodes get richer."'^'' This dark side is compounded 
by reputation networks like Klout, Kred and Peer Index, which may be cre- 
ating what one analyst calls a "social media caste system" in which super- 
nodes receive preferential treatment over those with low reputation scores."^^ 

The inequalities between rich and poor nodes is even more exaggerated 
in the wake of 2009's Great Recession. "The people who use these [social 
media] tools are the ones with higher education, not the tens of millions 
whose position in today's world has eroded so sharply," notes Time maga- 
zine business columnist Zachary Karabell.^^ Social media contribute to eco- 
nomic bifurcation The irony is that social media widen the social divide, 

making it even harder for the have-nots to navigate. They allow those with 
jobs to do them more effectively and companies that are profiting to profit 
more. But so far, they have done little to aid those who are being left behind. 
They are, in short, business as usual." 

Karabell's observations are accurate. But this "business as usual" reflects 
a deeper historical truth about the unpalatable reality of political and eco- 
nomic power. "Except during short intervals of time, people are always gov- 
erned by an elite. 1 use the word elite [Italian: aristocrazia] in its etymological 
sense, meaning the strongest, the most energetic, and most capable — for good 
as well as evil," wrote the early twentieth-century Italian sociologist Vil- 
fredo Pareto in The Rise and Fall ofElites^^ This argument, which later be- 
came known as Pareto's "80-20 principle" or "the law of the vital few" is as 
true today, in the digital age, as it was during the industrial revolution of the 
nineteenth century, when a new elite of factory owners, replaced the old 
landowning aristocracy and vindicated their new wealth and power in the 
language of the free market and of democracy. 


Today, the emerging elite of the twenty-first century, for good as well as 
evil, are the multibiUionaire bankers of networked personal information, 
digital plutocrats like the Oxford and Stanford educated philosopher Reid 
Hoffman and the Harvard computer scientist Mark Zuckerberg, whose 
companies are amassing vast amounts of other people's personal information. 
They, these owners of the private networks, are the new ^ohdX aristocrazia of 
our social media age, the twenty-first century's ruling numerati,^^ and it is in 
the gulf between them as the owners and we as the producers of personal 
information where the greatest inequality of our knowledge economy lies. 

Hypervisibility Is a Hypertrap 

Michel Foucault was correct. Visibility is, indeed, a trap. Franz Kafka could 
have invented today's great digital exhibitionism, with its cult of the social 
and its bizarre fetish with sharing. Just as Joseph K unwittingly ^/^/^r^^ all his 
known and unknown information with the authorities in The Trial, so we 
are now all sharing our most intimate spiritual, economic and medical in- 
formation with all the myriad of "free" social media services, products and 
platforms on the network like @quixotic's Linkedln. And, given that the 
dominant and perhaps only business model of all this social media economy 
is adverting sales, it is inevitable that all this shared personal information 
will end up, one Kafkaesque way or another, in the hands of our corporate 
advertising "friends" like Facebook and Twitter. 

As Meglena Kuneva, the European Consumer comissioner, said in March 
2009, "personal data is the new oil of the Internet and the new currency of 
the digital world."^^ Yes, it's the fuel, but everything else too. "Information 
is what our world runs on," adds the historian of information, James Gleick, 
"the blood and the fuel, the vital principle."^^ 

Yes, social information is becoming the vital principle of the global knowl- 
edge economy. And it is this contemporary revolution in the generation of 
personal data that explains the vertiginous valuations of today's social media 


companies. If the twentieth-century's industrial economy was shaped by bloody 
wars over oil, today's digital economy is increasingly characterized by conflict 
over its vital principle — personal information. From all the outrage over Face- 
book's Open Graph initiative to Google's exploitation of its voyeuristic Street- 
view technology, rarely a week goes by without another story of a sensational 
leak of our information by one of the Internet's private information superpow- 
ers. In today's advertising driven social media economy, you see, it's data about 
us that has the most financial value. As one technology CEO told the Wall 
Street Journaly "advertisers want to buy access to people, not web pages."^"* 
Which explains why, as the newspaper confirms, "one of the fastest-growing 
businesses on the Internet is the business of spying on Internet users."^^ 

If visibility is a trap, then hypervisibility is a hypertrap. 

The problem is that our ubiquitous online culture of "free" means that 
every social media company — from Facebook to Twitter to geolocation 
services like foursquare, Fiitlist, and Plancast — relies exclusively on adver- 
tising for its revenue. And it's information about us — James Gleick's "vital 
principle"^^ — that is driving this advertising economy. As 
president Eli Pariser, another sceptic concerned about the real "cost" of all 
these free services, argues in his 2011 book The Filter Bubble, "the race to 
know as much as possible about you has become the central battle of the era 
for Internet giants like Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsofi:."^^ 

"It is fundamentally impossible for a digital advertising business to care 
deeply about privacy, because the user is the only asset it has to sell. Even if 
the founders and executives want to care about privacy, at the end of the day, 
they can't: the economic incentives going the other direction are just too 
powerful," Michael Fertik, the Silicon Valley-based CEO of Reputation, 
com, a company dedicated to protecting our online privacy, told me. Fertik's 
argument is reiterated by the media theorist and CNN columnist Douglas 
Rushkoff who explains that rather than being Facebook's customers, "we 
are the product."^^ 


Sharon Zukin, a sociology professor at the City University of New York, 
goes even further than Fertik or RushkofFin her critique of social media's 
allure. "Our entire bodies and histories are being opened up and colonized 
and stored by the very people who want to sell us things," she says. "Online 
shopping is becoming a master of these technologies of simultaneous coer- 
cion and seduction."^^ 

Yes, we — you and I and the other 800 million people on the "free" 
Facebook — are, indeed, the product that is being simultaneously coerced and 
seduced. We are the personalized data that Facebook and many other social 
companies are selling to their advertisers. And the problem is that the more 
these Web 3.0 companies track us, the more effective and thus valuable their 
advertisements. Indeed, research by Catherine Tucker, a professor at the 
M.I.T Sloan School of Management has discovered that the effectiveness of 
online marketing drops by 65% when the tracking of online users is regu- 
lated. Web tracking, Professor Tucker testified to Congress, enables compa- 
nies "to deliver online advertising in an extraordinarily precise fashion" — a 
precision that seems to consumers, she added, to be "creepy."^^ 

The economic incentives of the $26 billion annual online advertising 
market have become so powerful that there is now a massive Silicon Valley 
investment boom in those tracking companies that target our online per- 
sonal data. Between 2007 and early 2011 venture capitalists have, according 
to Dow Jones VentureSource, invested $4.7 billion into 356 creepy online 
tracking firms such as eXelate, Media6Degrees, 33Across and MediaMath. 
These tracking firm are all "trying to find better slices of data on individu- 
als," one venture capitalist explained the current investment boom to the 
Wall Street Journal. "Advertisers want to buy individuals. They don't want 
to buy Web pages."^^ 

Orwell's enemy oiOivnlife, Big Brother, has arrived on all of our screens. 
Today he goes under the name of tracking firms like eXelate, Media6Degrees, 
33Across and MediaMath. Fie wants to buy us. And he won't let us alone. 


This chasm — between ourselves, RushkofFs "product," and the advertisers 
who want to know everything about us, between the producers of personal 
knowledge and those that seek to profit from this information — is well cap- 
tured by the English novelist Zadie Smith. "To ourselves, we are special 
people, documented in wonderful photos, and it also happens that we buy 

things To the advertisers, we are our capacity to buy, attached to a few 

personal, relevant photos," she wrote in The New. York Review ofBooks.^^ 

Things have become so creepy on the Internet that the Wall Street Jour- 
nal dQ<iic2Xcd a five-part series of 2010 investigative reports, suitably entitled 
"What They Know,"^^ to the Orwellian business of spying on us. But nei- 
ther Kafka nor Orwell, at their most surreal, could have dreamed up the 
story of the real-time mobile app that is always watching us. Yet that "eter- 
nal child" Jeremy Bentham dreamed up such a scenario while he was con- 
sulting with the Russian enlightened despot Catherine the Great. And he 
called it the Inspection-House. 

The Wall Street Journal reported in December 2010 that "apps" from 
popular services like TextPlus, Pandora and Grindr on our iPhones and An- 
droid phones are passing on our information to third-party organizations. 
And as the managing director of the Mobile Marketing Association told the 
Journal, "in the world of mobile, there is no anonymity. A cell phone is al- 
ways with us. It's always on."^"^ This is why Apple — the sponsor of that origi- 
nal television commercial explaining why 1984 won't really be like Nineteen 
Eighty-four — is now facing a class-action lawsuit which alleges that "non- 
personal information" collected by Web sites like Pandora and the Weather 
Channel is being used to identify us and our behavior on the Internet. 

It's not just apps that are watching us. In an online economy driven by 
"likes" rather than "links," even social widgets such as Facebook's "Like," 
Google's "-1-1" and Twitter's "Tweet" buttons are watching us. As The Wall 
Street Journal reported in May 2011,^^ these "prolific" widgets, which have 
been added to 20-25 percent of the top 1,000 Web sites, enable networks 


like Facebook, Google and Twitter to track the browsing habits of users. To 
be followed by one of these buttons, all a user needs to have done is log onto 
a social network once in the past month. Then, irrespective of whether or 
not we actually click on any buttons, the widgets notify Facebook, Google 
and Twitter about all the Web sites that we visit, thereby transforming these 
social networks into omniscient inspection-houses of our online behavior. 

"We are seeing a race to the privacy bottom,"'s Fertik ex- 
plained to me. "The older-school' companies that don't feel comfortable sell- 
ing as much detailed information about you are being forced to do so because 
the young turk' companies don't feel that ethical or business constraint and 
are therefore commanding higher CPMs." 

Facebook is the most visible and aggressive of these young Turk companies. 
As The Wall Street Journal's ]uliz Angwin argues, Facebook is making friend- 
ing "obsolete" by enabling us to know as much about the intimate business 
of our distant acquaintances as we do about our closest friends. In June 2011, 
the company even introduced a "super creepy" face-tagging system that au- 
tomatically scans our photos and identifies our friends. *^^ "Just as Facebook 
turned friends into a commodity," Angwin explains, "it has likewise gathered 
our personal data — our updates, our baby photos, our endless chirping birth- 
day notes — and readied it to be bundled and sold."^^ 

Facial recognition technology is, of course, really creepy. Researchers at 
Carnegie Mellon University have even discovered that this technology can 
now be used to accurately predict our social security numbers. ^'^ Meanwhile, 
in early 2011, Jhe New York Times alerted us to something even creepier 
than either snooping apps or all-knowing facial recognition technology: 
"Computers That See You and Keep Watch Over You."*"^ The resemblance 
to Bentham's Inspection-House is uncanny — or, as a social media metaphy- 
sician like Steven Johnson might say, "serendipitous."''^ As the Times reported, 
these computers — which contain artificially intelligent sofiiware designed to 
recognize facial gestures and group action — started offin prisons, but are now 


also being used in hospitals, shopping malls, schools and offices. This all adds 
up, of course, to Benthams simple idea of architecture with which we are al- 
ready very familiar. "At work or school, the technology opens the door to a 
computerized supervisor that is always watching," The New York Times warns 
us about our hypervisible age. "Are you paying attention, goofing off or day- 
dreaming? In stores and shopping malls, smart surveillance could bring be- 
havioral tracking into the physical world." '^^ 

That computerized supervisor may already be in your pocket, making 
Wherel' the default setting of anyone who owns an Apple or Google 
smartphone. That's because our gadgets, to borrow the chilling title of a 2011 
book by electronic security expert Robert Vamosi, are already betraying us. Two 
data scientists have discovered that all our Apple iPhones have been recording 
their locations and then saving all the details to secret files on the "intelligent" 
device, which then gets copied onto our computers when we synchronize it 
with our iPhone. "Apple has made it possible for almost anybody — a jealous 
spouse, a private detective — with access to your phone or computer to get 
detailed information about where you've been," one of the researchers told 
the appropriately named "Where 2.0" conference in April 2011.''"^ 

That intelligent device in their pocket should equally worry owners of 
Google's Android smartphones. In late April 2011, The Wall Street Journal 
reported research showing that Android phones "collected its location every 
few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least several times an 
hour."^^ Google might, as Nicholas Carr argued,^"^ be making us stupid, but 
the company itself is anything but stupid. As Steve Lee, a Google product man- 
ager, revealed in a publicly disclosed 2010 email, location data is "extremely 
valuable" to the search engine. "I cannot stress how important Google's 
Wi-Fi location database is to our Android and mobile-product strategy," Lee 
added in this email to Larry Page, Google's co-founder and current CEO.^^ 

But it's not just smartphone owners who should be paranoid about their 
all-knowing devices. In December 201 1, Amazon — which make the popular 


Kindle tablet — were granted a patent that not only uses mobile devices to 
learn where we've been and our current location, but also is able to determine 
where we will go next. Like Apple and Google, of course, Amazon wants to 
own us. And this "Big Brother patent, by knowing where we've been and 
where we will go, promises to be a particularly intrusive algorithm of digital 
coercion and seduction." '^^ Indeed, Amazon is racing Apple and Google for 
control of the rapidly growing location-based services economy, a $2.9 billion 
market (in April 2011) that research firm Gartner predicts will almost triple 
to $8.3 billion by 2014. Yes, Reid Hoffman's Web 3.0 revolution, that ava- 
lanche of "real identities generating massive amounts of data," is now a reality 
and it's why Amazon, Google and Apple are now scrambling to gather loca- 
tion information that will enable them to build huge databases that can auto- 
matically identify our exact locations via our smartphones. 

It is a particularly chilling irony that the all-knowing devices at the very 
heart of what one social media guru describes as our "trust economy,"^'' are 
fundamentally untrustworthy. Indeed, as We the Media author Dan Gillmor 
notes, even The Wall Street Journal, the newspaper which has done such a 
fine job exposing the crisis of online privacy, is itself connecting "personally 
identifiable information with Web browsing data without user consent.^^ 
Yes, our gadgets, and even some of our newspapers, are betraying us.^^ So 
who, exactly, can we trust in our so-called "trust economy"? 

Nobody, it seems. New Scientist magazine reports that Chinese and 
American academics have developed sofiiware that, whether we like it or 
not, will be able to determine our location to a few hundred meters by sim- 
ply looking at our Internet connection. This new technology, jointly devel- 
oped by computer scientists at Northwestern University and the University 
of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu, will enable 
advertisers, criminals, security agencies and even friends or family to stalk 
anyone who happens to be using a network device. ^^ 


Big Data 

"Big Oil, Big Food, Big Pharma. To the catalog of corporate bigs that worry 
a lot of us little people, add this: Big Data," wrote The New York Times' 
Natasha Singer at the end of April 20 11, the week after the Apple and Google 
smartphone allegations went public.^^ 

Are you worried yet? 

Many of us are — one in four Americans, to be exact. A January 2011 sur- 
vey revealed that more Americans worry about the violation of their online 
privacy than becoming unemployed or having to declare bankruptcy. This 
research, conducted by market research company YouGov and published on 
"Data Privacy Day," found that 25 percent of Americans are fearful of being 
watched online and having their privacy breached, more than either the 23 
percent who worry about bankruptcy or the 22 percent who fear losing their 
job.^^ But, rather than Big Brother, what we fear most of all is Big Data, with 
a June 2011 survey from the University of Southern California showing that 
nearly half of American adult Internet users fear snooping companies versus 
only 38 percent worrying about snooping government.^^ 

So how has this remixed Dark Age — with its 0.05 percent liquid numerati 
of super nodes like @scobleizer and @quixotic, its underclass of anxious and 
lonely intradividuals, and its ideological orthodoxy of openness and transpar- 
ency that makes it increasingly impossible for anyone to be let alone — crept up 
on us? What are the intellectual, technological and economic origins of this 
twenty-first-century networked intelligence era — a time when, in the words 
of MIT professor Sherry Turkic, we are all alone together'^ How has the age 
of the great exhibition metastasized into our age of great exhibitionism? 

The next chapters offer a vertiginous history of social media that con- 
nects Jeremy Bentham's industrial Inspection-House with Mark Zucker- 
berg's Open Graph. And to begin this story, let me show you another picture 
that you've probably seen before — a picture so creepy that it has not one, but 
three corpses lying behind it. 


"As in the case with all great films, truly great films, no matter how much has been said and 

written about them, the dialogue about it will always continue. Because any film as great as 

Vertigo demands more than a sense of admiration — // demands a personal response."^ 


Three Lies and Three Corpses 

The picture is entitled San Francisco in July 1849. It's a landscape of 
some windswept farmhouses sheltering beside the Bay painted in the roman- 
tic nineteenth-century style of Albert Bierstadt's "Emerald Wave." There is a 
single horse with two riders in the foreground of the picture and a clump of 
barren hills looming in the far distance. This arrestingly pastoral nineteenth- 
century scene has been painted with a northerly perspective — the artist 
imagining San Francisco from its southern peninsula, from the perspective 
of the valley between the Diablo and Santa Cruz mountain ranges, a thirty- 
square-mile area known for most of the twentieth century as the Santa Clara 
Valley, but more widely known today as Silicon Valley. 

Now fast-forward a hundred years. It's the middle of the twentieth 
century in San Francisco and the little windswept village beside the Bay has 
grown into a thriving technological and industrial metropolis, a manufac- 
turing center for the shipbuilding, defense and electronics industries. Two 
old college friends, both graduates of Stanford, the university from down 
on the peninsula founded by the nineteenth-century railway baron Leland 
Stanford, are looking at this picture. One, a graying, faintly shabby former 


San Francisco detective named John "Scottie" Ferguson, is standing near 
the painting, while the other, Gavin Elster, a dapper shipbuilding magnate 
with a trim moustache, is commenting upon it from behind the desk in his 

There is a vivid contrast between the simple painting and Elster s ornate 
San Francisco office. The middle-aged industrialist — who runs the shipyard 
on behalf of his young wife's family — is seated behind a grand mahogany desk 
in a sumptuously furnished office. The wood-paneled walls of the office are 
lined with rare prints and exotic maritime memorabilia. Behind Elster's desk 
is a cavernous window with such a panoramic view over his industrial domain 
that it could be a working model of Jeremy Bentham's Inspection-House. 
From this window, the magnate is able to survey the entire shipyard — from 
the whirling cranes and half-finished hulls to the small army of shipworkers 
employed in this large-scale, labor-intensive industrial enterprise. 

The two men are comparing rural mid-nineteenth-century with indus- 
trial mid-twentieth-century San Francisco. "Well, San Francisco's changed," 
Elster says in a voice as meticulously tailored as his dark business suit. "The 
things that spell San Francisco to me are disappearing fast." 

"Like all this?" Scottie replies, spreading his arms as he walks closer to 
the painting of San Francisco in July 1849. 

"Yes, I should have liked to have lived there then," Elster confesses, his 
clubby voice competing with the hum of the cranes from the shipyard out- 
side. He sinks back into his leather chair, raises his eyes toward the ceiling 
and adds, "Color, excitement, power, freedom." 

At first glance, this conversation between the wealthy industrialist and 
the everyman ex-cop appears to be a private social interaction between two 
old college friends to whom fate had dealt very different hands. But its real- 
ity is the reverse. Everything about this entirely public conversation is actu- 
ally a lie. It doesn't contain a single word of truth. 

The first lie is that we are watching fiction rather than real life. This 


meeting between Gavin Elster and Scottie Ferguson is actually part of 
Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 motion picture Vertigo — a lavishly produced and 
meticulously staged piece of mid-twentieth-century Hollywood drama in 
which we, the mass audience, paid to watch professional actors playing the 
private lives of fictional characters. Everything in the scene from this Para- 
mount Studio-financed production is invented — from the fake painting in 
the fake office^ to the fake conversation^ between the two men to the fake 
Scottie Ferguson played by Jimmy Stewart and the fake Gavin Elster played 
by Tom Helmore. There are no obvious truths in this scene from Vertigo. It 
is a spiral"^ of lies. 

The painting itself, with its bucolic landscape, is also a lie. Instead of ru- 
ral heaven, the San Francisco of July 1849 was more actually like a protoin- 
dustrial urban hell. Eighteen months earlier, at the beginning of 1848, that 
fateful year of failed European revolutions, there were only 12,000 settlers 
in California — making it more like the idyllic state of nature represented in 
the picture on Elster s wall. But on January 24, 1848, an eccentric carpenter 
named James Marshall discovered gold on the American River at Sutters 
Mill, a sawmill in the foothills of the Sierra mountains some fifty miles to 
the northeast of San Francisco Bay. By December 1848, President Polk, hav- 
ing confirmed the rumors in his outgoing message to Congress, triggered the 
most dizzying gold rush in history, a mania so dramatic that, in 1849, the 
population of the increasingly industrial and urban San Francisco sometimes 
doubled every ten days — a meteoric rate of social growth that even rivals that 
of the Facebook community more than 150 years later. In 1849 alone, over 
500 vessels left eastern ports bound for the San Francisco Bay, packed with 
tens of thousands of dreamers — Peggy Noonan's "gamblers, bounders, ne'er- 
do-wells, third sons in primogeniture cultures" — all seeking to escape their 
pasts and pull the curtain on the second act of their lives. 

But even the "color, excitement, power and freedom" that Elster roman- 
ticizes about the San Francisco of 1849 is a lie. As F. Scott Fitzgerald, the 


chronicler of a later collective bout of irrational exuberance, once said, in 
vivid contrast with Peggy Noonan's reading of history, "there are no second 
acts in American lives."^ And, unfortunately, this was true for the vast ma- 
jority of the "Forty-niners" as it has been for the participants in every other 
mania in American history — from the Wall Street stock market boom of 
the 1920s that Fitzgerald himself chronicled in The Great Gatshy, to the ir- 
rational social exuberance of the sixties counterculture, to the hys- 
teria of the late nineties. 

"This was the Gold Rush as Iliad, as a disastrous expedition to foreign 
shores."^ So Kevin Starr, the author of a much- acclaimed multivolume history 
of California, describes the San Francisco of 1849. The truth is that these 
nineteenth-century fortune seekers had, like Gavin Elster, fallen in love with 
something that, for the most part, didn't exist. As Gray Brechin, another 
chronicler of San Francisco's vertiginous history, noted, "most left the 'dig- 
gings' bitterly disappointed."'' By the summer of 1849 San Francisco had 
become a high-tech mining camp teeming with vagabondage, alcoholism, 
sickness, suicide and murder — an antisocial graveyard of broken dreams rather 
than Elster's idyllic community of "color, excitement, power, freedom." 

But it's the third lie that is the deadliest of them all. In Hitchcock's Ver- 
tigo, Scottie is being set up by Elster to fall in love with a corpse. The ship- 
building magnate has invited the ex-cop to his office knowing that he suffers 
from vertigo, a pathological fear of heights with which he'd been afflicted 
after failing to prevent a police colleague from falling to his death from a 
San Francisco rooftop. His vertigo is such a debilitating affliction that even 
standing on a chair triggers an overpowering feeling of dizziness in Scottie 
as the world whirls faster and faster around him. It has disabled the former 
San Francisco detective. He no longer can function in society. 

So, after spinning his disingenuous nostalgia about the San Francisco 
of July 1848, Elster invents a story about his wife Madeleine's obsession 
with a suicidal nineteenth-century ancestor and hires Scottie to shadow 


the beautiful young woman as she drives around the city. And thus begins 
Scottie Ferguson's disastrous expedition to foreign shores. You see, the 
blonde whom Scottie follows around and around the twisted streets of San 
Francisco is a trap. Madeleine Elster is anything but her own image. She is a 
fake, who, not unlike today's technologies of social shopping, has been de- 
signed to seduce and coerce him. 

Contrary to Mark Zuckerberg's dictum that we all only have one iden- 
tity, Madeleine the ethereal blonde is also Judy the earthy brunette. She has 
taken Eric Schmidt's advice and reinvented herself Rather than Madeleine 
Elster, she is actually Elster's young mistress, a dark-haired store assistant 
from Kansas called Judy Barton,^ who, by dying her hair and wearing exqui- 
sitely designed outfits,^ is only playing the role of the shipping heiress. 

At first, the plan works perfectly. Scottie is transformed into Jeremy Ben- 
tham's voyeuristic fantasy — the eye of the ubiquitous camera, Madeleine's 
shadow, the inspector of all her movements. First he follows her to San Fran- 
cisco's little Mission Dolores Church where, from behind a gravestone, he 
watches her put flowers on her nineteenth-century ancestor's grave. He then 
follows Madeleine to the city's Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum 
where he watches from behind a door as the mesmerized young woman gazes 
at a painting of her ancestor — a beautiful, bejeweled figure who so resembles 
Madeleine that she might have been narcissistically gazing at herself in a 

The ex-detective not only suffers from vertigo, but from a compulsive 
voyeurism — a condition we might dub "social eyes." All he can do is watch 
Madeleine. As Francois TrufFaut remarked about Jimmy Stewart's role as 
Scottie Ferguson, he "isn't required to emote: he simply looks — three or four 
hundred times."^^ Indeed, Scottie becomes so completely transfixed by Judy's 
reinvented identity as a San Francisco heiress that, having fished the blonde 
out of the Bay from underneath the Golden Gate Bridge afi:er she dreamily 
stumbles into the water, he falls in love with her. The murderous crime then 


unfolds. Elster kills his real wife and hurls her corpse from the top of a 
church tower at the same moment that the fake Madeleine stages a suicidal 
leap from this same building. Meanwhile, the vertigo-afflicted Scottie, dou- 
bly traumatized by his inability to follow Madeleine up the twisting stair- 
case of the tower and by her seemingly tragic death, suffers a nervous 
breakdown and is institutionalized in a San Francisco mental asylum. 

Among the many reason critics see Vertigo as Hitchcock's creepiest in- 
vestigation of the human condition^ ^ lies in the haunting sequence of 
scenes that follow the fake suicide. After Scottie 's release from the asylum, 
he, by chance, bumps into Judy Barton — who has, in the meantime, been 
abandoned by Elster — on a San Francisco street. Glimpsing his original 
lover in Judy (but not having access to facial recognition technology so he 
can recognize her real identity), he picks her up and then forces the bru- 
nette to dye her hair and to dress herself in Madeleine's clothes. And so the 
store assistant from Kansas once again transforms herself into the ship- 
building heiress, thereby enabling Scottie, who sees his beloved Madeleine 
in everyone and everything, to first resurrect and then make love to a 

The savage truth is finally revealed to Scottie in Vertigo's penultimate 
scene. Just as Judy slips back into playing Madeleine, she gives herself away 
by putting on a bloodred necklace that had also been worn by the original 
Madeleine. It is the most haunting few seconds in the movie. Finally, he sees 
the woman's real image — as a fake and an accomplice to murder. The camera 
freezes momentarily on Scottie's half opened mouth and unblinking blue 
eyes as he silently grasps the crime to which he's been exposed, both as an 
innocent accomplice and victim. ^^ At first it seems that his epiphany — the 
realization that everything he had believed in was a lie — would have a ca- 
thartic impact on Scottie. But, Hitchcock being Hitchcock, even this ca- 
tharsis turns out to be a delusion. 

"One final thing I have to do and then I'll be free of the past," Scottie 


tells Judy in the movie's final scene as they drive south from San Francisco 
down toward the eighteenth-century mission settlement of San Juan Bau- 
tista, the site of the original crime. 

"One doesn't often get a second chance — you are my second chance," 
Scottie then breathlessly tells her as, overcoming his dizzying fear of heights, 
he drags Judy back up the twisted staircase of the church tower where the 
murdered body of Madeleine Elster was hurled to the ground. But it's not 
really a second chance — as F. Scott Fitzgerald reminds us, they are mostly 
illusionary in the lottery of American life. 

So instead of completely freeing himself of his past, Vertigo ends with a 
second corpse, Judy's frightened leap from the tower and the death of all 
Scottie 's dreams. Thus behind Hitchcock's Vertigo lies two great corpses, or 
perhaps three, if you include Scottie Ferguson, the deluded and solitary soul 
who fell in love with a chimera — something that didn't and couldn't exist. 

Color, Excitement, Power, Freedom 

Not quite everything in Vertigo is invented. While the scene in Elster's office 
was filmed in a Hollywood studio, some of the movie really was made on lo- 
cation in the San Francisco Bay Area. Judy Barton s fake suicidal jump into 
the Bay, for example, was filmed in early October 1957 under the Golden 
Gate Bridge, while her suicidal leap from the church tower really did get shot 
a couple of weeks later in San Juan Bautista — the little town southeast of San 
Jose, the Bay Area city that today is the epicenter of Silicon Valley. 

"Yes, I should have liked to have lived there then — color, excitement, 
power, freedom," you'll remember Gavin Elster saying, with disingenuous 
nostalgia, about "San Francisco in July 1849." But would it be equally disin- 
genuous to borrow these words as a description of mid-twentieth-century San 
Francisco Bay Area? Was there color, excitement, power, freedom in the place 
where Hitchcock made his timeless picture? 

To borrow another of Elster's words, the Bay Area certainly has changed 


over the last half century, particularly its economy. Back in October 1957, 
power — or at least economic power — was held by large scale, hierarchical 
organizations along the lines of Elster's fictional shipbuilding company — 
firms^^ with the logistic and organizational power to mass manufacture me- 
chanical products for the industrial networked economy. This local economy 
was, therefore, dominated by companies such as the peninsula's largest em- 
ployer, the defense and aircraft manufacturer Lockheed and electronics man- 
ufacturers like Westinghouse, General Electric, IBM and Sylvania. Many of 
these firms still operated on the scientific management principles of the late- 
nineteenth-century mechanical engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor — a 
thinker deeply indebted to Jeremy Bentham's surveillant utilitarianism — 
which prioritized quantifiable workplace efficiency and productivity over 
more human or creative goals. 

This large organizational arrangement is what social media evangelists 
John Hagel and John Seely Brown describe as a "push" economy. "In a push 
system there is a hierarchy, with those in charge offering rewards (or punish- 
ments) to those lower down the ladder," Hagel and Seely Brown describe 
the top-down power structure of the firm in mid-twentieth-century life. 
"The people participating in push programs are generally treated as instru- 
ments to ensure that activities are performed as dictated. Their own individ- 
ual needs and interests are purely secondary, if relevant at all."'"^ 

It was large hierarchical industrial firms like Lockheed, GE and Westing- 
house which employed the "Organization Man," a term popularized by i^(9r- 
/^/«^ magazine business journalist William H. Whyte in his 1956 best-selling 
critique of the conformity of this push economy. According to Whyte, these 
Organization Men were neither the industrial laborers nor the white-collar 
workers of traditional industrial society. "These people work for The Orga- 
nization," he observed. "They are the ones of our middle class who have 
left home, spiritually as well as physically, to take the vows of organizational 
life." But what most concerned Whyte was the replacement of the individual 


with the group as a supposed "creative vehicle" for business innovation. In 
his concern for the rights of the individual, Whyte echoed earlier critics 
of collective thinking like John Stuart Mill and George Orwell. "The most 
misguided attempt at false collectivization is the current attempt to see the 
group as a creative vehicle. Can it be?" he asked rhetorically. "People very 
rarely think in groups; they talk together, they exchange information, they 
adjudicate, they make compromises. But they do not think; they do not 

As David Halberstam notes in his history of the fifties, the "conformity of 
American life" had, by the middle of the decade, become "a major intellectual 
debate" attracting not only social critics like Whyte, John Kenneth Galbraith 
and C. Wright Mills, but also novelists like Sloan Wilson. ^^ Wilson con- 
fronted the problem of group-think and spiritual impoverishment in his 1955 
best-selling The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, a novel that was turned into a 
1956 movie featuring the music of Bernard Herrmann, the composer who 
also wrote the score for Vertigo. But whereas Herrmann's romantically gar- 
ish music in Hitchcock's movie provided a suitably exaggerated soundtrack to 
this apotheosis of cinematic voyeurism, his work in The Man in the Gray Flan- 
nel Suit is more muted and private. That's because the picture reflected both 
the fragmented social reality of the fifties as well as the growing disenchant- 
ment with the human costs of its impersonal economic system, its industrial 
technology, and its work culture. This is a movie about marketing executives 
at large media companies who, ironically, can't communicate and whose pub- 
lic and private lives have become so disconnected that they are alienated from 
their colleagues, their friends, their families and themselves. It was a society, 
many believed, of too much private affluence and not enough public good — a 
world that sixties activist and chronicler Todd Gitlin described as "cornucopia 
and its discontents." 

But alongside this monochromic industrial culture, the region, especially 


the Santa Clara Valley, also possessed a less discontented cornucopia — a col- 
orful and thriving agricultural economy. Indeed, had Alfred Hitchcock and 
his Vertigo production crew chosen to take Interstate 101 on their journey 
from the Golden Gate Bridge down to San Juan Bautista they would have 
driven through a pastoral landscape so redolent with the color and aroma of 
its cherry and apricot orchards that it was still known locally as the "valley 
of heart's delight." Back in the fall of 1957, you see, Silicon Valley didn't ex- 
ist. ^^ There was no fifty-mile sprawl of high-tech office parks merging San 
Francisco with San Jose, no collective congestion on 101, no smart posses of 
entrepreneurs in their Toyota Prius hybrids and Bentley convertibles chas- 
ing the next big social thing, no roadside electronic billboards every mile 
flashing advertisements for the hottest new network. Back then, the Bay 
Area's future — a social future that is now spinning faster and faster around 
all of us — had only just been invented. 

The Arrival of the Future 

That future was the digital computer. The analogue computer, as a mechani- 
cal calculating machine, had existed, in theory at least, since the year after 
Jeremy Bentham's death, having been conceived by the English polymath 
Charles Babbage as the "Difference Engine" in 1833, just a year after Ben- 
tham's corpse first appeared in public, and then tinkered with until Bab- 
bage's own death in 1871. Over the next century, the technology of analogue 
computers matured considerably, but — to cram a hundred years of remark- 
ably complex scientific, mathematic and technical development into a single 
sentence^^ — its functionality was always compromised by the prodigious 
amount of electricity required to power these machines and, as a consequence, 
by their unwieldy size and heat. What solved these hitherto intractable prob- 
lems and transformed the mechanical computer from a technological curi- 
osity into the central reality of contemporary social life was the invention of 


the transistor, a silicon-based semiconductor device that enabled solid-state 
amplification of power and the seemingly limitless miniaturization of elec- 
tric circuits. 

Like James Watt's eighteenth-century invention of the steam engine or 
Thomas Edison's nineteenth-century invention of the electric lightbulb, its 
invention is one of those once-in-a-century technological transformations 
that turned the conventional world upside down. Newsweek senior editor 
and Silicon Valley chronicler David Kaplan described this transistor as the 
"substructure of the future" and "elemental to the digital age."^^ Without 
this little transistor, there would be no personal computer or Internet, no 
smartphones or smart televisions, no Tweetie, foursquare or Facebook Open 
Graph, no central digital tissue of society, and no age of networked intelli- 
gence. Without the little transistor, the future — our social future — still 
wouldn't exist. 

This future had actually been discovered ten years before Hitchcock 
came to the Bay Area to film Vertigo. Three Nobel prize-winning physicists — 
William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain — invented the tran- 
sistor at the Bell Labs in New Jersey in 1947. But it was Shockley, one of the 
twentieth century's most prescient scientists and, in the words of Mike 
Malone, "the first citizen of Silicon Valley," who exported the transistor to 
the San Francisco Bay Area. Shockley, a native of Palo Alto, had thought 
deeply about what he called the "electric brain" and he understood that the 
transistor would provide the "ideal nerve cell" for computing machines.^^ 
Returning to the Bay Area in 1956 and assembling a team of some of the most 
gifted young scientists in America — including Gordon Moore, a twenty-seven- 
year-old Caltech graduate who grew up in Pescadero, a Pacific coast fishing 
village on the other side of the Santa Cruz mountains — he set up Shockley 
Semiconductor Laboratory, a start-up dedicated to the commercial develop- 
ment of the transistor. 

But there was a problem with this plan. In addition to being a scientific 


genius, Silicon Valley's first citizen was, perhaps not entirely uncoinciden- 
tally, a shameless narcissist, whose antisocial behavior made him uniquely 
unsuited to leading this all-star technology team. So in September 1957, a 
couple of weeks before Hitchcock filmed a false Madeleine Elster faking 
her suicide underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, the so-called "Traitorous 
Eight" — a group of America's most brilliant young physicists and electrical 
engineers including Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, his later co-founder 
of InteF^ — left Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory to found what David 
Kaplan calls "Silicon Valley's greatest hardware company." 

It was called Fairchild Semiconductor and it was based in Mountain 
View, the peninsula town near Stanford University where the Googleplex, 
Google's global headquarters, is now located. Not only was Fairchild Semi- 
conductor the mother of Silicon Valley start-ups, later spawning companies 
like Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), but it was also the first. 
Founded in October 1957 and funded by Arthur Rock, the first Califor- 
nian venture capitalist, Fairchild Semiconductor was the first company that 
discovered the rich vein of gold in the transistor. It was, as Mike Malone 
explains, a dizzying moment, equivalent in historical vertigo to James Mar- 
shall's discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in January 1848. 

It was as if a door had been flung open, Malone explains. "The scientists at 
Fairchild suddenly looked down into a bottomless abyss microscoping from 
the visible world into that of atoms — an abyss that promised blinding speed 
and power, the ultimate calculating machine. When they let their minds 
wander they realized that not just one transistor could be put on a chip, but 
even ten, maybe a hundred For Christ's sake, millions. It was dizzying."^^ 

It was so dizzying, in fact, that in 1965 Gordon Moore coined his own 
law to explain the transformational power of the transistor. Moore's Law, as 
it has come to be universally known, correctly predicted that the number 
of transistors that could be placed on a computer chip would double — yes, 
double — every two years. This biannual doubling in computational power 


has not only enabled faster and faster and tinier and tinier personal comput- 
ers, but also in the pervasive Internet and our contemporary mania with so- 
cial media. 

Moore's Law — the model for Zuckerberg's Law about the annual dou- 
bling of networked personal information — has become the single constant 
of our vertiginous digital age. It is both the engine of perpetual economic 
and technological innovation as well as the cause of what Austrian econo- 
mist Joseph Schumpeter, in a more aphoristic law, described as the "creative 
destruction" inevitably wrought by the capitalist free market. ^^ Moore's and 
Schumpeter's laws explain why there are no longer any cherry or apricot or- 
chards in the valley of heart's delight. And they are also the reasons why, in 
the words of veteran New York Times technology writer John MarkofF, "per- 
haps more than any region, Silicon Valley has transformed the world in the 
last half century."^^ 

But like one of Hitchcock's great corpses, the history of Silicon Valley isn't 
quite as straightforward as it first appears. Just as Vertigo is more than just a 
kinky fifties picture about necrophilia on the twisted streets of San Francisco, 
so the real history of Silicon Valley isn't simply a cheerful Whiggish narrative 
about the progressive impact of ever shrinking electric circuit boards upon an 
increasingly networked humanity. No, the contemporary digital revolution — 
like the nineteenth-century industrial revolution — is too epochal an event in 
human history, too great a journey to foreign shores, to be seen deterministi- 
cally, purely as a consequence of technological innovation. 

The idea of technology as the first mover, as the-thing-in-itself that trig- 
gers all consequent social, economic and cultural change, is a trap into which 
both smart techno-skeptics and techno-utopians alike — from Kevin Kelly 
to Nicholas Carr^^ — have fallen. Thus, as Richard Florida argues, "the deep 
and enduring changes of our age are not technological but social and cul- 
tural."^^ Florida is correct to present social and cultural change — as well, of 
course, as economic — as at least equal to technology in terms of shaping our 


digital age. In parallel, therefore, with the innovation of technologists like 
the Traitorous Eight, the history of Silicon Valley must also be understood 
in terms of its social values, moral judgments and economic ideas — in the 
context of what some sociologists would call its "ideology." And it's in the 
complex architecture of these collective ideas, rather than that the simpler 
architecture of an electric circuit, where the origins of today's digital cult of 
the social can be most effectively excavated. 

But to get to this excavation, we need to return to the earlier question 
about the mid-twentieth-century Bay Area. The truth is that, in spite of its 
technicolored orchards, the San Francisco Bay Area — with its monochrome 
industrial infrastructure of large electronics, defense and energy compa- 
nies managed by supposedly repressed and repressive Organizational Men — 
was neither a strikingly exciting nor a colorful place in the fall of 1957. Yet 
this would change dramatically over the next decade. Between 1957 and 
1967 the Bay Area experienced such a powerful explosion of social color and 
excitement that the region — and, indeed, the world — has never been quite 
the same since. 

The Love- In 

By 1967, the people of San Francisco had replaced their gray flannel suits 
with rainbow-colored clothes and psychedelic scarves. By 1967, love had 
usurped scientific management as the metric of human value. By 1967, the 
cornucopia of hidden discontent had been substituted by a cornucopia of 
transparent desire. And, by 1967, tens of thousands of San Franciscans had, 
like poor Scottie Ferguson, fallen in love with something that didn't really 

"If you re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair^ 
sang Scott McKenzie in mid-June 1967 at the Monterey Pop Festival TKe 
song was called "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your 
Hair)" and John Philips, the lyricist of the Mamas and Papas and one of the 


organizers of the festival, had written it especially for McKenzie to be de- 
buted at Monterey. 

Rather than a single song, however, Monterey debuted an entire epoch. 
Like Fairchild Semiconductor, the three-day Monterey Pop Festival — with 
its social focus of bringing together many different musicians and a large, 
diverse audience of strangers — was the first of its kind. Just as the company 
founded by the Traitorous Eight would spawn larger chip companies like Intel 
and AMD, so Monterey would inspire larger social music festivals like Wood- 
stock and Altamont. And just as Fairchild Semiconductor was more than an- 
other high-tech company, so the Monterey Pop Festival was more than just 
another musical event. 

In mid-June 1967, a crowd of at least 50,000 — some estimate as many 
as 100,000 — intimate strangers, had come down the northern Californian 
coast to Monterey, a Spanish colonial town not far from the old mission of 
San Luis Bautista where Hitchcock filmed the suicide scenes in Vertigo. 
They came, some with flowers in their hair, for the festival, not only to hear 
Scott McKenzie, Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin, the Who, the Mamas 
and the Papas, and the Grateful Dead, but also to celebrate a fresh flowering 
of togetherness that appeared to signify a new beginning, a second chance 
for America and the world to unite together as friends. 

''If you're going to San Francisco, you're gonna meet some gentle people 
there," Scott McKenzie sang at Monterey. "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear 
Some Flowers in Your Hair)" both created and reflected the Zeitgeist of the 
age. It became an instant number one hit around the world, selling more 
than 7 million copies and emerging as the anthem of social togetherness for 
the sixties' counterculture. 

It was indeed the promise of meeting people that drew so many thousands 
of people to Monterey in June 1967. As much as a music concert, the three- 
day event was a social experiment in sharing, in bringing people together 
through music, in transforming strangers into friends. At Monterey, there 


was a breakdown of the rigid fifties boundaries between public and private 
life and, as a consequence, the creation of a new transparent pubhc space de- 
signed to create intimacy amongst strangers. The children of 1967 even in- 
vented language for this kind of social orgy: they called it a "love-in." 

"If you come to San Francisco," Scott McKenzie promised the tens of 
thousands who came to Monterey, "summertime will he a love-in there'' 

"Haven't you ever been to a love-in?" a wide-eyed young woman asks her 
interviewer at the beginning of D. A. Pennebaker's Monterey Pop,^^ the de- 
finitive documentary movie about the festival. "It's gonna be like Easter and 

New Year and Christmas and your birthday all together The vibrations 

are just going to be flowing everywhere." 

The summer of 1967 certainly began as if every day was Easter, New 
Year, Christmas and all of our birthdays. "Love, love, love, love, love, love, 
love, love, love. There's nothingyou can do that cant he done," S2sv^ the Beatles 
in "All You Need Is Love," the other big hit that summer. In fact, the Mon- 
terey Pop Festival marked the beginning of the Summer of Love, a two-year- 
long countercultural experiment in friendship, sharing and collaboration. 

June 1967 was like a predigital Occupy Wall Street. Globally headquar- 
tered in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, the Summer of 
Love represented an audacious attempt to unite all the "gentle people" of the 
world. Behind the lurid headlines of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, the people 
who came to the city in the summer of 1967 were seeking the loving ideal 
of global social connectivity — what the San Francisco Oracle, sounding like 
Don Tapscott or Umair Haque, described as the "renaissance of compassion, 
awareness, and love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind." ^^ 

This ideal of the unity for all mankindhccdiUit a central, if not the central 
theme of the counterculture. As sixties historian Todd Gitlin explains, it 
represented "hippie as communard: the ideal of a social bond that could bring 
all hurt, yearning souls into sweet collectivity, beyond the realm of scarcity 
and the resulting pettiness and aggression."^^ According to Gitlin, between 


50,000 and 75,000 people flocked to the 1967 love-in on Haight-Ashbury 
to openly share their possessions, their minds, their bodies, their good vibra- 
tions, their stimulants, their pasts and their futures. 

"All across the nation such a strange vibration, people in motion" sang Scott 
McKenzie at Monterey. "There's a whole generation with a new explanation" 
But what, exactly, was this "new explanation" and who, precisely, was doing 
the explaining during the Summer of Love? 

Social Man 

The intellectual origins of this cultural rebellion can be traced back to the 
time when the Traitorous Eight were setting up shop in Mountain View and 
Hitchcock was filming Vertigo. In September 1957, a month before the cre- 
ation of Fairchild Semiconductor, Jack Kerouac's On the Road had been 
published, ^^ and quickly became an explanation for an entire generation — 
including Bob Dylan, who confessed to Beat poet Allen Ginsberg that it 
"changed my life like it changed everyone else's." Kerouac changed every- 
one's life by transforming the cornucopia of discontent into literature and, 
as a peripatetic bohemian, an outsider on the edge of society, sneering at the 
supposedly inauthentic conventions of contemporary family, school, suburb 
and workplace. With other libertarian Beat poets like Ginsburg, Timothy 
Leary and Gary Snyder, Kerouac challenged every form of traditional 
authority — from mainstream media and big government to The Organiza- 
tion and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. This was the new vibration: a 
colorful eruption of bohemianism against what the Frankfurt School Marx- 
ist philosopher Herbert Marcuse called, in his unlikely 1964 best-seller, the 
One-Dimensional Man, conventional industrial society. 

But the new explanation went beyond the bohemian rebellion of the 
Beatniks against traditional authority. This was a communal uprising that, 
to borrow some language from London School of Economics sociologist 


Richard Sennett, had a "collective personality generated by a common fan- 
tasy." And that fantasy was centered on what Sennett calls "the intimacy of 
social relations." In parallel with the radical libertarianism of the Bohemian 
rebel, lay the communitarian idealism of sixties radicals like Marcuse and 
the writer Paul Goodman, whom historian Theodore Roszak called the "fore- 
most tribune" of the counterculture.^^ 

As engineers of the human soul, theorists like Marcuse and Goodman 
were trying to create a new version of mankind, upgrading the fifties corpo- 
rate One-Dimensional Man with a social version of man, the unifier of all 
humanity. Their communitarian belief system rested upon a Gavin Elster- 
style nostalgia for an invented past, a preindustrial world of hearts' delight, 
a perpetual love-in where a "scaled down" industrialism would serve as a 
"handmaiden to the ethos of village or neighborhood." Whether it was Paul 
Goodman's atavistic faith in restoring the communities of precolonial Indi- 
ans, or Herbert Marcuse's theories of man's spiritual alienation from capi- 
talism and his promise of a postrevolutionary social unity, or the voluntary 
primitivism of hippie communalist groups like the San Francisco Diggers, 
the end result was the same embrace of an imaginary collective social past, 
that same connected oral culture that social Utopians like Don Tapscott and 
Jeff Jarvis now idealize. As Walter Benjamin, another luminary of the 
Frankfurt School put it, "the Utopian images that accompany the emergence 
of the new always concurrently reach back to the ur-past."^^ 

Their faith in the communal purity of the past certainly wasn't new. Two 
centuries earlier, Jean-Jacques Rousseau had reached back into the ur-past 
and launched a similar assault on the supposed heartlessness and inequali- 
ties of society. In the invaluable five volume A History of Private Life, the 
French historian Jean Marie Goulemont describes Rousseau's obsession 
with "the idea of a citizenry transparent to itself"^^ As Rousseau himself 
wrote with characteristic communitarian nostalgia in his 1758 Letter to 


D'Alembert, "what peoples have better grounds to assemble often, and to 
form among themselves the sweet bonds of pleasure and joy than those who 
have so many reasons for loving one another and remaining always united?"^'^ 

If only we could reach back, the logic of Goodman and Marcuses Rous- 
seauian nostalgia went, back before Lockheed and IBM, back before The 
Organization Man and the military-industrial complex, back to when every- 
body wore flowers in their hair, back to the authentic society of the village or 
neighborhood — then we would rediscover the real color, the excitement, the 
power and the freedom of what it supposedly meant to be human. 

In "The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte," his essay about the failed 
French Revolution of 1848, Herbert Marcuse's muse, Karl Marx, argued 
that "men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; 
they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under 
circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past."^^ 
And this was as true in 1848 as in 1967 or, for that matter, as in 2011, the 
year of the Protestor. You see, for all their obsession with preindustrial com- 
munity during the Summer of Love, the tens of thousands who flocked to 
the love-ins on Haight-Ashbury in 1967 were, in Theodore Roszak's words, 
"technocracy's children" — products of the very leviathan late-industrial 
world from which they were trying to escape.^^ 

This was a generation of increasingly autonomous rebels seeking both 
individual authenticity^^ and collective togetherness, a lonely crowd of dis- 
ruptive individuals wanting to build what the LSE's Richard Sennett calls 
"intimate society."^^ The cult of the social, then, in the Summer of Love was 
what Harvard sociologist Daniel Bell described as a "cultural contradiction 
of capitalism" in which people's economic circumstances in society and their 
cultural thinking about those circumstances were diametrically opposed. 
The more atomized and lonely people became, the more separated from tra- 
ditional community, the more they fell in love with the idea of the social. 
But their definition of the social was so individualized, so much a reflection 


of their own discrete identities that their cult of social authenticity was si- 
multaneously a cult of the authentic self— thereby creating, in the memora- 
ble words of cultural critic Christopher Lasch, a Culture of Narcissism in 
which the narcissist "cannot live without an admiring audience." ^^ 

This irony — between an increasingly individualized society and an in- 
creasing longing for communal identity — was recognized by Alvin Toffler, 
whose 1970 best-selling book, Future Shock, is an uncannily prescient warn- 
ing about the impermanence of today's Web 3.0 age, with its stock market 
trading in individual reputations and its fast flowing streams of information. 
"It is ironic," Toffler observed, "that the people who complain most loudly 
that people cannot relate to one another, or cannot communicate with each 
other, are often the very same people who urge greater individuality."^^ 
Thus, as Toffler noted, postindustrial man is "modular man," able to create a 
diversity of "temporary interpersonal relationships" that precludes us — in 
contrast with our preindustrial ancestors — from a strong sense of commu- 
nal identity. "For just as things and places flow through our lives at a faster 
clip," Toffler wrote in Future Shock, "so, too, do people." 

Unfortunately, most of the kids at the Monterrey Pop Festival were too 
busy with their temporary interpersonal relationships to give much thought 
to the contradiction between their strong sense of individualism and their 
longing for community. "This is my generation, this is my generation, baby," 
sang the Who at Monterey, the words were from "My Generation," another 
sixties anthem. But this was My Generation in the same way as social media 
is My Space — a narcissistic generation of bohemians all constructing their 
own communities according to their own discrete needs and desires. These 
bohemians are the early ancestors of Dalton Conley's intraviduals, or Sherry 
Turkic and Jonathan Franzen's self-absorbed digital youth — the free-floating, 
fragmented butterflies of today's age of foursquare, Airtime and Plancast, 
who flit narcissistically from networked community to community and from 
personalized online experience to experience at will. 


Like the impossibly beautiful and rich Madeleine Elster, the Summer of 
Love was simply too good to be true. On the one hand, the counterculture 
promoted the new man — a strongly individualistic free thinker liberated 
from the shackles of traditional community; on the other hand, however, it 
promised a return to the communitarian womb of the preindustrial village. 
The chances of successfully synthesizing this bohemian individualism with 
a primitive collectivism were about as realistic as the plot of a Hitchcock 
movie. The Summer of Love couldn't work. And, as we all know, it didn't. 

This is a picture we've seen before, of course, not only in the movies, but 
also in real life. The fashionably threadbare youngsters who poured into San 
Francisco in 1967 with One-Dimensional Man and On the Road in their 
rucksacks may have been less impoverished than the threadbare fortune 
hunters of 1849, but their libertarian dreams about uniting all of mankind 
in a global love-in were just as chimerical as the forty-niner's faith in discov- 
ering gold. And so it was hardly surprising that the revolutionary Summer 
of Love experiment ended in discord rather than global connectivity. 

"Hope I die before I get old," sang the Who at Monterrey, before smash- 
ing their instruments on stage in a catharsis of adolescent rage that repre- 
sented a dress rehearsal of how the sixties itself would die. 

Many of the "gentle people" of San Francisco had indeed turned violent 
and cynical by the late sixties, unhinged in part by their unholy overdose of 
radical communitarianism and individualism. As the English documentary 
filmmaker Adam Curtis, argues, "What tore them apart was the very thing 
that was supposed to have been banished: power. Some people were more 
free than others — strong personalities dominated the weak, but the rules 
didn't allow any organized opposition to the suppression because that would 
be politics."^^ The Manson family, thus, replaced the love-in. Nor was it 
purely coincidental that, in its homelessness, hunger, drug addiction, crime 
and sickness, the Haight-Ashbury of 1969 began to look increasingly like 


the San Francisco of 1849 — a graveyard lined with the corpses of broken 
people and dreams. 

But as we know from Hitchcock's Vertigo, a corpse is never quite as dead 
as it looks. Or as Marx memorably put it in his essay on the failed revolu- 
tions of 1848: "The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a night- 
mare on the brain of the living." The truth is that the Summer of Love 
generation, My Generation, didn't really die in 1969. It just went online. 
And today, that vibration is all around us. 

It is called social media. 


"Movies are naturally social things. " 


The Macguffin 

In a 1939 lecture at Columbia University, Alfred Hitchcock revealed the 
narrative trick behind his pictures. "We have a name in the studio and we 
call it the 'Macguffin.' It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in 
any story. In crook stories it is almost always the necklace and in spy stories 
it is most always the papers." 

Even though the Macguffin catches the viewers' attention, it never turns 
out to be central to the real plot of the movie. As Hitchcock's biographer, 
Patrick McGilligan, notes, by the end of any Hitchcock picture, the Mac- 
guffin has "become an absurdity — and deliberately beside the point."^ 

The mechanical element that crops up in any story about the Internet is 
technology. That's the Macguffin in this book. Of course, today's social me- 
dia revolution couldn't have happened without major advances in tech- 
nology. By the early seventies, the electrical engineers of Silicon Valley had 
made two critical technological breakthroughs — the introduction of stan- 
dards for packet switching networks, and a first-generation microprocessor 
developed by Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce's Intel Corporation — that 
enabled the large scale networking of digital devices. John Hagel and John 


Seely Brown describe this as the "Big Shift" from a centralized and hierar- 
chical industrial economy to a flatter and supposedly more social and egali- 
tarian digital economy.^ This Big Shift empowered personal computers to 
communicate with one another, thereby not only marking the most signifi- 
cant development in communications technology since Alexander Graham 
Bell's invention of the telephone in 1876, but also laying down the "connec- 
tive tissue of society" heralded by contemporary communitarians like Clay 
Shirky and Don Tapscott. 

Yet these technological developments are mostly beside the point — at 
least in terms of uncovering the real history of social media. You'll remem- 
ber that the New York Times technology journalist John MarkofF wrote that 
"perhaps more than any region, Silicon Valley has transformed the world in 
the last half century." But MarkofF was only half correct. Yes, Silicon Valley 
has transformed the world with its revolutionary microprocessors and packet 
switching networks; but that world has also changed Silicon Valley, trans- 
forming it from a twentieth-century scientific center for the development of 
digital technology into the engine room of the twenty-first-century global 
social, cultural and economic revolution, 

"Technology affects character," Ross Douthat, the culturally conserva- 
tive New York Times columnist argues.^ Perhaps. More important, however, 
character affects technology. As cultural historians of Silicon Valley, such as 
MarkofF himself,"^ Stanford University's media historian Fred Turner,^ the 
Financial Times' ]3.mcs Harkin,^ and Columbia University law scholar Tim 
Wu^ have all meticulously documented, the birth and death of the counter- 
culture was intimately interwoven with the origins of the personal computer 
and the worldwide Web. Many of the leading apostles and architects of digi- 
tal connectivity and community — such as the eccentric network visionaries 
J.C.R. Linklider and Douglas Englebart, Whole Earth Catalogue and WELL 
founder Stewart Brand, Wired magazine's founding editor Kevin Kelly, Apple 
founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and Grateful Dead lyricist and 


Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow — were them- 
selves bohemian products of the counterculture. These pioneers, whom Fred 
Turner calls "new communalists," imported the sixties' disruptive libertarian- 
ism, its rejection of hierarchy and authority, its infatuation with openness, 
transparency and personal authenticity, and its global communitarianism 
into the culture of what has become known as "cyberspace." Their vision was 
to unite all human beings in a global network linked by computers. "This 
strange idea," Tim Wu writes, "was the basis of what we now call the Internet."^ 

"The web is more a social creation than a technical one," thus confessed 
Tim Berners-Lee, the original architect of the Worldwide Web, about the 
Internet's core social purpose. "I designed it for a social effect — to help 
people work together — and not as a technical toy. The ultimate goal of the 
Web is to support and improve our weblike existence in the world. We 
clump into families, associations, and companies. We develop trust across 
the miles and distrust around the corner."^ 

It wasn't just serendipity, therefore, that the Internet's architecture — 
what Tim Wu calls its "network design" (which, he correctly observes, "like 
all design, can be understood as ideology"^^) — happened to mirror the bo- 
hemian values of its pioneers. Like Kerouac's perennial outsider Dean Mori- 
arty from On the Road, the idea of cyberspace — a global network of human 
beings connected by computer — developed as all edge and no center, an in- 
finitely expandable universe that naturally lent itself to the restless individu- 
alism of the peripatetic bohemian who regarded himself as a global citizen. 
As such, it became a way of keeping alive the disruptive spirit of the Summer 
of Love, with its challenge to traditional corporate and cultural hierarchies. 
"The purpose of personal computing would go hand in glove with the idea 
of computer network communication," Tim Wu explains. "Both were radi- 
cal technology; and, fittingly, both grew out a kind of counterculture."^^ The 
personal computer and the Internet, then, emerged as the natural home of 
the homeless, to the refugees of the love-in who no longer had any allegiance 


to a physical community but who had, through networked technology, 
graduated to membership into a global community of like-minded souls. 

"I live at That is where I live. That is my home," ex- 
plained John Perry Barlow, sounding suspiciously like Facebook's fictional- 
ized Sean Parker from The Social Network. Or, as Ester Dyson, another of 
the Silicon Valley hipster founding class put it, "Like the Net, my life is de- 
centralized. I live on the Net."^^ 

Nor was it coincidental that, as the sixties' countercultural elite entered 
the American workforce, they reshaped broader economic life with both 
their rebellious individualism and their romantic communitarianism. As 
contemporary observers of all political persuasions have noted — from con- 
servative New York Times columnist David Brooks to liberal Wall Street 
Journal columnist Thomas Frank — the ideal of the outsider, the disrupter 
who challenges authority, has become one of the most valuable economic 
commodities of early twenty-first-century life. The corporate Man in the 
Gray Flannel Suit has thus metamorphosized into Brooks's contemporary 
free-floating bourgeois bohemian, the "Bobo,"^^ skilled in the marketing and 
sales of what Frank described as a "hip consumerism"^"* — a new orthodoxy 
of nonconformity best summarized by the 1997 Apple Computer market- 
ing edict to "Think Different."^^ As Harvard Business School professor 
Shoshana Zuboff notes, the post mass-production economy "produced a new 
human mentality — of a self-determining individual. This mentality was once 
the unique precinct of the elite: the wealthy, artists, poets, philosophers. And 
it became the mentality of everyone."^*' Or, to requote NPR executive editor 
Dick Meyer, "Everyone is part of a counterculture now." 

While We Weren't Paying Attention, 
tlie industrial Age Just Ended 

Meanwhile, the digital revolution has also been both a central cause and 
effect of another deep structural shift on the economic landscape — the 


transition from an industrial economy dominated by corporate monoliths 
like IBM, Lockheed and General Electric into a much more individualized 
economy, shaped by what Peter Drucker, the influential twentieth-century 
management theorist, defined as the "knowledge" or "information" economy. 
This revolution is of such economic and social historical significance, 
Drucker believed, that it is equivalent to the great industrial revolutions of 
the nineteenth century. 

"We cannot yet tell with certainty what the next society and the next 
economy will look like. We are still in the throes of a transition period," 
Drucker wrote in the spring of 2001. "Contrary to what most everybody 
believes, however, this transition period is remarkably similar to the two tran- 
sition periods that preceded it during the 19th century: the one in the 1830s 
and 1840s, following the invention of railroads, postal services, telegraph, 
photography, limited-liability business, and investment banking; and the sec- 
ond one, in the 1870s and 1880s, following the invention of steel making; 
electric light and electric power; synthetic organic chemicals, sewing ma- 
chines and washing machines; central heating; the subway; the elevator and 
with it apartment and office buildings and skyscrapers; the telephone and type- 
writer and with them the modern office; the business corporation and com- 
mercial banking."^ '^ 

Drucker is describing the great transformation from a trade-based economy 
of industrial production to an economy dominated by the exchange of 
information — what he describes as the shifi: in the "center of gravity" from 
the manufacturer or the distributor to the "customer."^^ Tomorrow's "free 
market," Drucker argues, "means flow of information rather than trade."^^ 
And the key producers of value in this new, increasingly digital information 
economy of social networks like Facebook, Linkedin, Google -I- and Twitter 
are what best-selling author Daniel Pink calls the "free agent nation"^^ of 
self-employed and autonomous knowledge workers. In the most profound 
socioeconomic change of the early twenty-first century, the Organization 


Man of the large-scale industrial firm has changed into what Pink calls a new 
"species" of knowledge worker such as @scobleizer and @quixotic. Sloan 
Wilson's Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, therefore, has been transformed 
into the free-floating self-employed "knowledge" or "information" worker 
whose creativity and innovation is uncannily suited to a globalized market- 
place of incessant individual mobility and creative economic destruction. 

"While we weren't paying attention, the industrial age just ended," Seth 
Godin, one of the knowledge economy's most prescient observers, told 
me when he appeared on my show in February 2011.^^ The 
Schumpeterian innovation economy that Godin describes is a Darwinian 
struggle of survival between ever-increasingly innovative individuals. "Aver- 
age is over," Godin argues in Linchpin, his 2010 self-help book on maintain- 
ing our "indispensability" in this competitive reputation economy.^^ Others 
put it even more bluntly. Ignore Everybody is Hugh MacLeod's Wall Street 
Journal best-selling manual on nonconformity.^^ Gary Vaynerchuk, one of 
social media's most successful self-promoters with over a million followers 
as @garyvee on Twitter, tells us to Crush It if we are to "cash in on our pas- 
sion" and remain indispensable in the global creative economy. ^"^ 

"We've met the market and it's us," Daniel Pink says about this post- 
industrial Me-economy — a working environment ideally suited to the bo- 
hemian culture of an increasingly individualized and self-promoting digital 
elite. Schumpeter's organizational "creative destruction" of twentieth-century 
capitalism has been replaced by an increasingly individualized struggle of 
self-invention and reinvention. Borrowing the title of Reid Hoffman's 2012 
book,^^ New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman describes this world 
as "The Start-up of You," an economy in which we are all entrepreneurs in 
perpetual start-up mode.^*^ The winners in this hypercompetitive twenty- 
first-century economy are the masters and mistresses of reinvention — 
globally powerful individuals like AOL's editor-in-chief, Arianna Huffington 
and blogging superstar Andrew Sullivan (respectively presidents of the 


Cambridge and Oxford debating unions) — who have successfully rearchi- 
tected their identities to suit every new twist and turn in our global culture 
and politics. 

And yet, just as in the Summer of Love, the more atomized and com- 
petitive society has become, the more the cult of the social has flowered 
amongst the faithful. Kevin Kelly, Silicon Valley's most articulate libertar- 
ian collectivist, best summarized this in his 1995 book Out ofControIP in 
which he presented the Internet as a "post-Fordist economic order" man- 
aged by the "hive mind" of a new, digitally connected social order.^^ 

John Perry Barlow echoed Kelly's transcendental communitarianism in 
his vision of the digital revolution. "As a result of the opening of cyberspace, 
humanity is now undergoing the most profound transformation of its his- 
tory," the Grateful Dead lyricist wrote. "Coming into the Virtual World, we 
inhabit Information. Indeed, we become Information. Thought is embod- 
ied and the Flesh is made Word. It's weird as hell."^^ 

Such social-transcendentalism was as weird as hell. Unfortunately, 
however, Kelly and Barlow weren't the only peddlers of this messianic ro- 
manticism. Through the work of thinkers like MIT mathematician Norbert 
Wiener^^ and Canadian new media guru Marshall McLuhan, Silicon Val- 
ley's digital version of the cult of the social began to attract a wider currency. 
In particular, McLuhan's arguments from books like Gutenberg Galaxies 
(1962) and Understanding Media (1964), about cyberspace uniting all of 
mankind in a single "global village," has become one of Silicon Valley's cen- 
tral beliefs among social network entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg. It's 
not surprising, therefore, as David Kirkpatrick notes in The Facebook Effect, 
that the Canadian new media guru is a "favorite" at a company that, with its 
close to a billion members, might be on the brink of realizing the McLuha- 
nite vision of a "universal communications platform that would unite the 

What is most striking about McLuhan's embrace of technology is his 


nostalgic love-in with the imaginary past. Yes, I should have liked to have 
lived there then, McLuhan is saying about ancient society, color, excitement, 
power, freedom. The end of history for McLuhan, like for other digital com- 
munitarians is, therefore, a return to the distant past. Therein lies the value of 
technology for this new media guru. It's an Ur-past time machine — one that 
travels backward rather than forward. 

As James Gleick notes in The Information, McLuhan "hailed the new 
electric age not for its newness but for its return to the roots of human cre- 
ativity."^^ He s^ts value of information technology as "winding the tape back- 
wards" and drawing us back into what he called our "tribal mesh" of a 
premodern oral culture. 

The technological futurism of Marshall McLuhan and disciples like 
Mark Zuckerberg is, thus, in reality, a nostalgia for a paradise lost. Which is 
why, as Mike Malone so memorably put it, "nostalgia for the future is Sili- 
con Valley's greatest contribution to the age."^^ 

The Bowling Alone Syndrome 

The corpse of the Summer of Love has, therefore, been resurrected as the 
Internet with social media emerging as the great hope for romantic commu- 
nitarians desperate to bring humanity together and rebuild community in 
the twenty-first century. Think of this nostalgia for the future as the "Bowl- 
ing Alone syndrome" — a reference to the communitarian theories of Har- 
vard University sociologist Robert Putnam, whose highly influential and 
best-selling Bowling Alone regards the digital network as the solution to 
what he considers as the crisis of local community. 

Writing, in 2000 — only a couple of years after @quixotic created the first 
social media business — Putnam sees electronic media as the twenty-first- 
century means of reinventing community engagement. "Let us find ways to 
ensure that by 2010 Americans will spend less leisure time sitting passively 
alone in front of glowing screens and more time in active connection with 


our fellow citizens," he argued with communitarian fervor. "Let us foster 
new forms of electronic entertainment and communication that reinforce 
community engagement rather than forestalling it."^'^ 

Ten years later, this Bowling Alone syndrome — a social utilitarianism 
premised on the idea that community makes us, as individuals, both happier 
and more prosperous — has become almost as ubiquitous as Facebook, four- 
square or Twitter. A recent avalanche of kumbaya books with good-vibration 
titles like We-Jhink,^'^ The Wealth of Networks, ^^ Socialnomics,^^ Here Comes 
Everybody,^^ Open Leadership, ^^ Six Pixels of Separation, ^^ JVhat's Mine Is 
Yours: How Collaborative Consumption is Changing the Way We Live, We 
First,^^ Generation We,^'^ Connected,^^ Reality Is Broken ^^ The Mesh: Why 
the Future of Business Is Sharing""^ and The Hyper-Social Organization^^ all 
sing from the same transformational song sheet about the miraculous 
power of community. 

This intellectual obsession with the social, an obsession with sharing — 
what today, "as the arc of information flow bends toward ever greater con- 
nectivity,"'^'^ is fashionably called a "meme" (but is, in many ways, a virus) — can 
be seen across many different academic disciplines. The concepts of togeth- 
erness and sharing have acquired such religious significance that, in stark 
contrast with the research of Oxford University's Baroness Susan Green- 
field, some scientists are now "discovering" its centrality in the genetic make- 
up of the human condition. One "neuroeconomist," a certain Dr. Paul Zak 
from the California Institute of Technology, has supposedly found that so- 
cial networking activates the release of "generosity-trust chemical in our 
brains.""^^ Larry Swanson and Richard Thompson from the University of 
Southern California are even "discovering" that the brain resembles a inter- 
connected community — thereby triggering the ridiculous headline: "Brain 
works more like internet than 'top down' company." "^^ 

Even David Brooks, the normally hardheaded New York Times colum- 
nist, seems in part to have fallen under the spell of the social, arguing in his 


2011 best-selling The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character 
and Achievement that worldly success is a result of sociability and that soli- 
tariness or reclusiveness afflict only poorly parented or dysfunctional people.^^ 
And yet Brooks is much too sober an analyst to have drunk fully from the 
social media Kool-Aid, particularly in terms of the countercultural narcis- 
sism that also characterizes the Facebook and Twitter generation. "It's not 
all about you," Brooks thus told American graduates in a warning against 
what he called "the litany of expressive individualism" that, he says, "is still 
the dominant note in American culture."^^ 

Meanwhile Steven Johnson, another hypervisible super-node who, you'll 
remember approvingly, described our "oversharing cuture" in Time maga- 
zine as "a networked version of the Truman Show," has gone as far as to ar- 
gue that the social is somehow written into the natural laws of the universe. 
In Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, ^^ his 
2010 communitarian polemic cleverly disguised as sober intellectual his- 
tory, Johnson attempts to collapse Charles Darwin's biological theories of 
life's origins with the eternal value of the digital network. "A good idea is a 
network,"^^ he writes, claiming that our best ideas, like a biologically suc- 
cessful coral reef, rely on what he calls a social "ecosystem" — presumably the 
same "human ecosystem" that @quixotic has been building, designing and 
improving since the late nineties. The short history of the Web, Johnson 
tells us, citing the examples of social networks like Twitter, foursquare and 
his own hyperlocal social new platform Outside. In, "started as a desert, and 
it has been steadily transforming into a coral reef."^'^ 

From Robert Putnam to Steven Johnson to Clay Shirky to JefFjarvis to 
Kevin Kelly, the message about the core value of the social network re- 
mains the same. The network is our salvation as a human race, their meme 
says. Digital social networks are enabling us to come together as a human 
race, the faithful explain, a collectivist vision that a skeptical Jaron Lanier, 
the inventor of virtual reality, has critiqued as "digital Maoism."^^ The 


network will finally enable us to realize ourselves both as individuals and as 
social beings, these digital communitarians promise. Business, leadership, 
media, identity, culture, wealth, freedom, innovation, motivation, the brain, 
even, perhaps the universe itself — everything, they say, is transformed by 
the digital revolution. The future, they all echo Biz Stone, will inevitably be 

The Long March Back into the Future 

"This will be a long march," John Hagel and John Seeley Brown argue about 
the transition to a social knowledge economy, in a presumably unintentio- 
nal nod to old Chairman Mao. "For the first time ever, we have the real op- 
portunity to become who we are and, more importantly, who were meant 

According to Jeff Jarvis, this is a long march into the future that might 
lead us back to the sixteenth century and what he calls the "idyllic" and 
"transparent society" of Henry VIII's England. But Jarvis's Utopian version 
of early modern European society is based upon a fatal misunderstanding of 
a classic dystopian text. "In 1516, Sir Thomas More argued in his novel Uto- 
pia that the idyllic society is the transparent society," he argues with charac- 
teristic communitarian nostalgia in Public Parts. "In More's time, everyone 
worked under the gaze of everyone else. Public business was conducted out 
of private homes; the cobbler made his shoes there, the alehouse was a house. 
Privacy in the modern sense was not expected."^'^ Yet Jarvis fundamentally 
misreads Sir Thomas More's Utopia — a book that imagines a society of such 
radical transparency that the entire community dines collectively at long 
wooden tables. Jarvis fails to understand that, in this classic defense of indi- 
vidual liberty and privacy. More — who was hung, drawn and quartered in 
1535 for high treason — was actually offering a dystopian warning about work- 
ing "under the gaze" of an all-seeing tyrant like his executioner, Henry VIII. 

Yet even more than Jarvis or Hagel, this Rousseauian nostalgia for an 


imaginary preindustrial community in which we can finally "become who 
we are" and enable our intrinsic human nature is best encapsulated by uber- 
communitarian Clay Shirky, whose 2010 Cognitive Surplus''^ picks up where 
Putnam's Bowling Alone left off ten years earlier. 

"The atomization of social life in the 20th century left us so far removed 
from participatory culture that when it came back, we needed the phrase 
participatory culture to describe it," Shirky argues, articulating Jean- 
Jacques Rousseau's ideal of a citizenry transparent to itself "Before the 20th 
century, we didn't really have a phrase for participatory culture; in fact, it 
would have been something of a tautology. A significant chunk of culture 
was participatory — local gatherings, events and performances — because where 
else could culture come from but the people.^^ 

The digital revolution changes everything, Shirky says, because "partici- 
patory culture" does away with the old hierarchies of twentieth-century in- 
dustrial media. We therefore no longer need a well-financed Hollywood 
studio like Paramount or an authoritarian movie director like Alfred Hitch- 
cock to make Vertigo. The twentieth-century Hollywood monopoly of me- 
dia is replaced with what Shirky calls the Internet's "social production" in 
which culture is created by all of us rather than by elites. Digital media thus 
literally becomes the "connective tissue of society," the participatory source 
of both culture and community. To requote John Perry Barlow, we thus all 
become Information — each of us a participatory node in this collective pro- 
duction of culture. 

But Shirky — not for nothing dubbed the Herbert Marcuse of today's 
Web intelligentsia^^ — is right for all the wrong reasons. In the twentieth 
century, we went to the theater to be terrorized by Hitchcock's pictures 
about innocent men like Scottie Ferguson who were dragged into night- 
mares they neither understood nor controlled. But when the lights came 
on, the nightmare ended and we were free to leave the movie theater and 
get on with our regular lives. 


Today, however, Hitchcock's Vertigo has been radically democratized so 
that we are all now participants in the drama. That's the truth about Shirky's 
"participatory culture." You see, social media has been so ubiquitous, so much 
the connective tissue of society that we've all become like Scottie Ferguson, 
victims of a creepy story that we neither understand nor control. 

Yes, this digital version of Vertigo is as weird as hell. 

Just as Gavin Elster idealized an invented San Francisco of June 1849 
and Scottie Ferguson fell in love with the fake Madeleine Elster, Shirky 
and his fellow communitarians have fallen in love with a preindustrial 
participatory culture that probably never really existed and certainly can't 
be resurrected in our highly competitive and increasingly individualized 
twenty-first-century world. And just as Elster enticed his own old Stanford 
University classmate into a dark fantasy of deceit and heartbreak, these ro- 
mantic communitarians are, for one reason or another, dragging all of us 
into a future that most of us really don't want — a digital love-in of default 
publicness, a Darwinian struggle of hypervisibly networked individuals, a 
"global village" where secrecy and forgetting are disappearing, a "participa- 
tory culture" that shines an unwanted transparency upon all of our lives, a 
Creepy SnoopOn.Me world of incessant foursquare check-ins, computers 
that know us and Facebook facial scans in which nobody is ever let alone. 

"While Steven Johnson favorably compares the Internet's "ecosystem" to 
one of Charles Darwin's biologically teeming coral reef, while Nicholas 
Christakis and James Fowler promise us that "when you smile, the world 
smiles with you,^^ while Jeff Jarvis offers us a return ticket to the "idyllic" 
transparency of Henry VIII's England," and while Clay Shirky guarantees 
that "humans intrinsically value a sense of connectedness,"^^ what networked 
technology has really engineered is the resurrection of Jeremy Bentham's 
Auto-Icon — a self-glorification machine promising, with all the seductive- 
ness of a coercive Hitchcock heroine, to make us all immortal. 


The Internet — with its virtual worlds like Second Life — has transformed 
the idea of immortality from a religious metaphor into a digital possibility. 
According to the University of Pennsylvania historian John Tresch, today's 
social media system encourages all of us to manage what he calls our "fame 
machine" so that we can transform ourselves into icons. In this life in the 
crystal palaces of our digital age, "We must all now pass through a mobile, 
multifaceted, and omnipresent fame machine to enter even the modest are- 
nas of friendship, family, and work." And the goal is to build followers and 
establish what Tresch calls our "own cloud of glory."^'^ 

So, like Hitchcock's Vertigo, social media — with its claim that technol- 
ogy unites us — is the exact reverse of what it seems. Behind the commu- 
nitarian optimism of the digital utilitarians lies a vertiginous and socially 
fragmented twenty-first-century truth. It's a postindustrial truth of increas- 
ingly weak community and a rampant individualism of super-nodes and 
super-connectors. It's the truth of an "attention" economy that uses indi- 
vidual "reputation" as its major currency on networks like Klout. And, most 
troubling of all, it's the antisocial truth of a socioeconomic world of increas- 
ing loneliness, isolation and inequality — a socially dysfunctional condition 
that Sherry Turkic describes as being "alone together." 

Just as in a good Hitchcock picture, everything is illusionary. Those ac- 
cidental Maoists, John Seely Brown and John Hagel, were right about their 
"long march." But it's a long march back into the past rather than the future. 
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, Marx wrote in his essay 
about the failure of the 1848 revolution. Perhaps. But there is no doubt 
that — as Silicon Valley's technology transforms the twenty-first-century 
world — the story of the nineteenth-century industrial revolution is, in some 
ways, being played over again in today's digital revolution. The social tyr- 
anny that is encroaching upon individual liberty in today's hypervisible age, 
for example, is a familiar problem from the mass mechanical epoch. And so 


is the Utopian promise that contemporary technology can overcome the di- 
visions in mankind and unify all of us in a global village of mutual under- 
standing and sympathy. 

So let's take that long march into the past and return from our culture of 
great exhibitionism to the nineteenth-century age of the great exhibition. 
And we will begin this journey in the haunted old university city of Oxford, 
where we'll find a series of pictures so faded from the walls of history that, in 
contrast to Hitchcock's Vertigo, none of you will have ever seen any of them 



"The transparency is too good to be true. . . . What lies behind 
this falsely transparent world?" 


The Holy Grail 

The architects of our public future had, in the fading Ught of an Oxford au- 
tumn evening, stepped back into the private architecture of the past. The 
lozenge-shaped, decagonal library, built in 1853 by Benjamin Woodward — an 
Irish architect described by his friend, the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Ga- 
briel Rossetti, as "the silliest creature that ever breathed out of an oyster,"'^ 
had become the stage for the architects of our brave new hypervisible world. 
Dotted around Woodward's gothic Oxford library, with its infinite book- 
shelves and half-invisible murals of scenes from King Arthur's court on 
seven of its ten dark walls, were the senior lieutenants, the great knights of 
today's global social network. 

Silicon Valley, you see, had come to Oxford. The Californian designers 
of today's age of transparency had come to the ancient university city of pri- 
vate cloisters and hidden quadrangles, locked doors and wrought-iron gates, 
forbidding walls and crooked alleyways, illicit passages and tunneled vaults. 
These enablers of twenty-first-century visibility had come to a place that the 
great travel writer Jan Morris, noting its fifiiy acres of graveyard, described as 
"the most haunted of cities" — so haunted, in fact, Morris explains, that 


Jeremy Bentham, the inventor of the Inspection-House, who, in 1760, came 
up to Queens College (the same college, as it happens, that Tim Berners- 
Lee, the inventor of The Worldwide Web, attended two centuries later), was 
in "perpetual fear of spooks."^ And Silicon Valley had come to the very 
haunted heart of Oxford, to the Oxford Student Union, Benjamin Wood- 
ward's eccentrically ornate building, a graveyard where the reputations of 
many aspiring intellects had been buried over the last two centuries. 

From Bentham to Berners-Lee, "everyone comes this way, sooner or 
later,"^ Jan Morris writes about this shimmering yet half-invisible city sit- 
ting, as she notes, in Middle England's "no man's land"^ between London 
and Birmingham. So perhaps it was appropriate then that Silicon Valley's 
aristocrazia — the architects of the digital no-man's-land in which we are all 
spending more and more of our social lives — had now come to this ancient 
university city to paint their vision of our connected future. 

Silicon Valley had come to Oxford both literally and as an idea, a symbol 
of future innovation. It was there physically, in the persons of Silicon Val- 
ley's most innovative figures — Reid Hoffman, Biz Stone, Chris Sacca, Mike 
Malone and Philip Rosedale. But the Valley had also come to Oxford in the 
symbolic form of "Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford," a two-day conference 
of debates and speeches, organized by the university's Said Business School 
and attended by students wanting to see a picture of our collaborative social 

So there they were, then, these architects of our globally networked digi- 
tal society. Dressed in tuxedos, with flutes of champagne in one hand and 
smartphones in their other, Silicon Valley's social media aristocracy was scat- 
tered around Woodward's Victorian library, socializing in both analog and 
in digital form. They were physically networking, mingling in small groups 
(this crowd of super-connectors had no need, of course, for MingleBird's 
social introduction app), clinking glasses in dark corners of the library while 
conspiring over the latest social media merger or acquisition; and simultane- 


ously, in a parallel digital universe, they were using their smartphones to 
electronically network with their global followers and friends, networking 
to burnish their already glowing virtual reputations, networking on their 
own social networks, forever networking. 

Or there we were, I should say, since I — as an aspiring super-node 
myself — was also there, networking with Philip Rosedale, the creator of Sec- 
ond Life, the three-dimensional, transparent society designed as a "place to 
connect"^ for citizens of the digital world. "We're doing it because we be- 
lieve increased transparency is the key to a stable economy and economic 
growth," Rosedale said of Second Life. "Those economies that have the most 
transparency and the most information are the ones that grow the fastest."'^ 

The following day, Rosedale would debate with the Oxford professor of 
neuroscience. Baroness Susan Greenfield, about "The Universe, The Brain and 
Second Life," while I would do battle with @quixotic on whether social net- 
works were becoming the nation-states of the twenty-first century. But that 
evening, we were both spectators to another, more pressing debate. We were 
all about to go downstairs from the library to the Union's debating chamber, 
the place where some of the most powerful men and women of the last two 
centuries — from Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher to Ronald 
Reagan, Albert Einstein and Malcolm X — had come to debate the most im- 
portant issues in modern history. 

Over the last hundred and fifi;y years, the Union has also been the stage 
on which Oxford undergraduates, Pareto's 2iS^\i\n^aristocrdzia, have estab- 
lished their intellectual reputations by debating the great questions of the 
age. Previous student presidents of the Union include British Prime Minis- 
ters Edward Heath and Herbert Asquith, the assassinated Pakistani prime 
minister Benazir Bhutto, the current mayor of London Boris Johnson and 
that master of reinvention Andrew Sullivan, one of the most hypervisible 
brands in today's social media world. Even Bertie — Queen Victoria and 
Prince Albert's eldest son, the longtime Prince of Wales and the future 


Edward VII, who came up to Christ Church as an undergraduate in 1859, 
would visit the Oxford Union every Thursday to listen to the debates. 
"Compared with the rest of his Ufe there," one historian of the Union com- 
mented on the adventures of the unschoiarly Bertie at Oxford, "it was a 
positively thrilling experience."^ 

''This house believes that the problems of tomorrow are bigger than the en- 
trepreneurs of today, "i\it Oxford Union was about to debate. On one side of 
this debate were the risk takers of today — Biz Stone and Reid Hoffman, en- 
trepreneurs skilled at jumping off cliffs and assembling airplanes on their 
way down. On the other were skeptics such as World Bank vice-chairman 
Ian Goldin and the writer Will Hutton, who were doubtful that "failing 
fast" was a solution to the social problems of the twenty-first century. It was 
a debate about whether the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley, the architects 
shaping today's Web 3.0 revolution, could be trusted with our future in a 
digitalized world where the boundaries between first and Second Life were 
quickly dissolving. 

As we stood together drinking champagne in the fading light of the Ox- 
ford evening, Rosedale — a bronzed Southern Californian whose athletic phy- 
sique seemed more suited to the well lit Utopia of Second Life than to a darkly 
gothic nineteenth-century Oxford library — and I warmed up for the Union 
debate with a little intellectual joust of our own. We were comparing the mer- 
its of Benjamin Woodward's nineteenth-century physical building with the 
transparent architecture of the twenty-first-century virtual network. 

"So how does being here contrast to being on the Internet?" I asked him, 
sweeping my half empty champagne flute around the library. "Which expe- 
rience, do you think, is more memorable?" 

Rosedale gazed up at the paintings of King Arthur's court on the library 
walls. In the artificial light of the Gothic library, the tuxedoed Californian 
technologist, his bronzed face tilted toward the heavens, emanated an exag- 
gerated presence, as if a brilliant force, some alternative light, was publicly 



illuminating him. Bathed in light and color, this twenty-first-century archi- 
tect of virtual reality seemed superimposed on the gothic library. He ap- 
peared as a picture of the future, hypervisible, not unlike the way in which 
the avatars in his Second Life online network stand out from its three- 
dimensional canvas. 

I also looked up to the pictures on the walls of the library, pictures 
that appeared to be a replacement for windows in Woodward's dark gothic 
building. But not only were these windows glassless, they were also opaque. 
In contrast, you see, with the hypervisible Rosedale, these seven paintings of 
King Arthur's court — frescoes that included King Arthur with his knights 
of the Round Table, the heroic deaths of Merlin and Arthur, and Sir Lance- 
lot's vision of the Holy Grail — were barely observable with the naked eye, 
offering only the most elliptical glimpses of washed-out color and faded im- 
ages. This was a great exhibition that nobody — neither Philip Rosedale, nor 
I, nor anyone else — could see. 

"There must've been a technical glitch," Rosedale joked. "What operat- 
ing system are they using on the walls here?" 

Social Art 

But it was no laughing matter. There really had been a technical problem 
with the walls. Painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and a group of Pre- 
Raphaelite Brotherhood friends^ including William Morris and Edward 
Burne Jones, just as Oxford itself was being radically transformed by what 
Peter Drucker called the "first great industrial revolution of the 1830's and 
1840's" (the railway, the most literal manifestation of the industrial network, 
only reaching the university city in 1844), these romantically revolutionary 
artists had brought King Arthur's mythological court back to life in seven 
frescoes painted between 1857 and 1859.'° 

From the beginning, it had been a self-consciously amateurish enterprise 
by a group of brilliantly talented yet disorganized Oxford undergraduates. 


In keeping with its identity as what the historian Paul Johnson calls the 
"first avant-garde movement in art,"^^ the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood proj- 
ect to paint the Union library was a social art experiment. Having observed 
that the walls of Woodward's decagonal room were "hungry for pictures,"^^ 
Rossetti called on a group of his undergraduate friends to paint the walls 
with scenes from Alfred Tennyson's 1845 Idylls of the King — an epic poem 
that idealized the chivalrous age of King Arthur and his court. 

Yes, I should have liked to have lived there then — color, excitement, power, 
freedom, Tennyson's 1845 poem about the preindustrial world says. And in a 
mid-nineteenth-century society where the new industrial network was sav- 
agely transforming all the certainties of traditional communal life, it was no 
wonder that Idylls oftheKing\v3i6i such an impact on romantics like Rossetti 
and his Oxford friends. 

Despite their yearning for the past, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood's 
attitude toward modern technology was curiously ambivalent. On the one 
hand, influenced by the gothic romanticism of mid-nineteenth-century po- 
ets and writers like Tennyson, Thomas Carlyle and William Wordsworth, 
the Pre-Raphaelites were critical of the heartlessly individualistic na- 
ture of the industrial revolution and nostalgic for what the art historian E. 
H. Gombrich calls the "spirit of the Middle Ages."^^ As the historian of 
Victorian England, A. N. Wilson notes, "these young painters set out to 
criticize the spirit of the age" and to "revivify society" with their gothic art.^'^ 
But their nostalgia for the simple community of the Middle Ages — not un- 
like Marshall McLuhan's idealization of the oral culture of primitive man, 
or Clay Shirky's and Robert Putnam's romanticized versions of participatory 
democracy in pre-twentieth-century communal life — was an invention that 
bore little, if any, actual truth to the past. This retreat into an idealized pic- 
ture of the past that was, as Laurence des Cars notes in his study of the 
Pre-Raphaelites, "a way of replacing the realities of modern life with ro- 
mance and chivalry." ^^ 


But the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood also had a certain sort of belief, 
perhaps even a McLuhanite religious faith in the power of technology to 
help them accurately represent the world and make their creative work ac- 
cessible to their audience. According to Robert Hughes, the "bywords" of 
their revolutionary art were to ''purge, simplify, archaize"^^ the decay of 
western art and return to a time before the sixteenth-century Renaissance 
artist Raphael to rediscover the purity of representative painting. For the 
Pre-Raphaelites, "God was in the details" of their art and thus they found 
what Hughes called the "technical fiction" of "painting with transparent 
colors on a wet white ground "^^ and to mix pigments with resinous varnish 
to keep their colors fresh"^^ — techniques which enabled them to exaggerate 
the impact of light and color and "to reproduce the dazzle of direct sun- 
light"^^ in their paintings. The Pre-Raphaelites thus relied on the most in- 
novative modern technology to paint pictures which romanticized a past 
that could never and has never existed. Perhaps it wasn't coincidental, then, 
that the most brilliant of the frescoes was Rossetti's version of Sir Lancelot's 
Vision of the Holy Grail, that perennial symbol in western iconography — 
from Sir Thomas More to Sir Thomas Mallory to Alfred Tennyson to Philip 
Rosedale — of the perfectly impossible and the impossibly perfect thing. 

At first, the Pre-Raphaelite social art project on the walls of Woodward's 
Union building was seen as a triumph, a magnificent representation of Ten- 
nyson's poem. "Never in the long history of Oxford had such groupings and 
individualities, forgathered to concentrate devotion on a common task," 
wrote one historian of the Oxford Union. ^^ As Jan Morris notes, it is the 
"most famous Pre-Raphaelite project in Oxford."^* John Ruskin, the most in- 
fluential art critic of the Victorian era, considered Rossetti's own picture of 
Sir Lancelot's Vision of the Holy Grail to have been "the finest piece of colour 
in the world," while one contemporary described the colors as "so brilliant as 
to make the walls look like the margin of an illuminated manuscript." ^^ 

And yet open-source art, like open-source books, movies or revolutions, 


doesn't work — not now, not in the future and certainly not in the middle of 
the industrial nineteenth century. You see, for all Rossetti and his young 
friends' enthusiasm for their collective art project, it was an underfinanced 
and disorganized initiative lacking any coherent leadership or overall plan. 
Their greatest mistake — particularly ironic given the Pre-Raphaelite reli- 
ance on technology to exaggerate the visibility of their pictures — was failing 
to provide the necessary technical preparation to protect the paint from de- 

By 1858, it was clear that the frescoes were quickly fading from the 
walls and were on the verge of disappearing. "The only remedy for all is now 
whitewash, and I shall be happy to hear of its application," Dante Gabriel 
Rossetti said that year, having lost all interest in the project. ^^ Thus, for the 
last century and a half, these Pre-Raphaelite frescoes have haunted the walls 
of the Union library, gradually becoming less and less decipherable (in spite 
of various expensive restoration projects),^'* their fame resting upon their il- 

But Second Life's Philip Rosedale knew none of this. All he could see 
were illegible pictures and walls that had forgotten their art. In the mind of 
this pioneer of transparency, the walls had suffered a technical glitch. They 
had failed to back up their information. Their operating system was faulty. 

"So this proves my case," he said. "While the Internet remembers every- 
thing that we enter into it, this old library only knows how to forget." 

"But what's the value of remembering everything?" I asked, smiling weakly. 

Rosedale smiled, too. But his was a blinding smile, overflowing with Pre- 
Raphaelite color. "Remembering everything brings us all together," he told 
me. "It enables the unity of mankind." 

''The unity of man?" \ raised my champagne flute in mock tribute. "I've 
heard that one before. History repeats itself, eh?" 

Rosedale raised his champagne flute, too. "Oh no, not this time," he said, 
clinking my flute with his. "This time it will be different." 


But Rosedale was wrong. This time it won't be any different. You see, a 
holy grail is a holy grail, whether it's a Pre-Raphaelite social art project, a 
transparent three-dimensional world inhabited by avatars, or a global social 
network that brings humanity together. The unity of man is as much a delu- 
sion now, in our age of great exhibitionism, as it was in the mid-nineteenth- 
century during the age of the great exhibition. 

No, this time it won't be different. And to explain why, let me tell you the 
sad story of a good prince from a fairy-tale kingdom whose noble ambition 
was to establish this unity of man. 

The Unity of Mankind 

In the early spring of 1850, three years before the Irish architect Benjamin 
Woodward began work on his gothic Oxford Union with its opaque win- 
dows onto an imaginary world, a good German prince from the fairy-tale 
kingdom of Saxe-Cobergand Gotha named Francis Albert Augustus Charles 
Emmanuel gave a speech about a much more transparent building. On March 
21, 1850, this richly networked aristocrat — best known today as Prince Al- 
bert, the husband of Queen Victoria, and the father of Bertie, the Oxford 
undergraduate who would later become King Edward VII — spoke in Lon- 
don to two hundred of England's most powerful aristocrazia, the architects 
of the country's industrial revolution. His Royal Highness Prince Albert 
had a big idea. Like Philip Rosedale, he wanted to enable the unity of man 
by bringing everyone in the world together. And, like the Second Life founder, 
he planned to do this by creating something of crystalline transparency. 

The speech was given in the Egypt Room of Mansion House, the formal 
residence of London's mayor, an eighteenth-century neoclassical building 
situated in the City of London, then the wealthiest square mile in the most 
richest and most populous city on earth. ^^ Amongst the audience were the 
British prime minister Lord John Russell, the foreign minister Lord Palm- 
erston, the former president of the Oxford Union William Gladstone, the 


Archbishop of Canterbury, the French ambassador, masters of city guilds, 
and local politicians such as Henry Forbes, the mayor of Bradford, the cen- 
ter of the new global woolen industry. 

With its massive neoclassical columns, painted shields and imposing 
statue of Britannia at one end of the hall, the Mansion House's palatial Egyp- 
tian room, designed by the eighteenth-century Palladian architect George 
Dance the Elder, was a suitably imposing stage for Prince Albert's grand mes- 
sage. After a banquet of turtle soup, eel, lobster, mutton, pigeon, fruit, cakes 
and ices, Prince Albert, who looked "resplendent"^^ in his uniform as Master 
of Trinity House Corporation, Britain's lighthouse authority, rose to 

"Nobody, however, who has paid any attention to the peculiar features of our 
present era, will doubt for a moment that we are living at a period of most won- 
derful transition, which tends rapidly to accomplish that great end, to which, in- 
deed, all history points — the realisation of the unity of mankind" he began. 

The prince was, in a sense, correct about this great historical 
"transition" — although, as he himself knew, it certainly wasn't "wonderful" 
for everyone who happened to be living through it. He was describing the 
epochal shift between the old fragmented agricultural communities ideal- 
ized by romantics like Alfred Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelite Brother- 
hood and the new networked industrial architecture of railways, telegraph 
and electric lines, roads and factories. To requote the fictionalized Sean 
Parker from The Social Network movie, "first we lived on farms, then we 
lived in cities." And as Peter Drucker has already reminded us, this techno- 
logical transformation from agricultural to industrial life is one of the most 
momentous social and economic events in all of human history, "In two 
centuries," explains the economic historian Joel Mokr, "daily life changed 
more than it had in the 7,000 years before."^'' 

Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel of Saxe-Coberg and Gotha, 
a scion of one of the most networked of ancient European dynasties, was an 


internationalist — somebody who believed that the technology of the in- 
dustrial revolution was transforming us from enemies into friends and 
uniting us as a human race through mutual respect, love, friendship and 
trust. Like the technological upheaval itself, not only was this goal of uniting 
humans through technology a new idea, but even the word "international" 
was a relatively recent neologism, having been invented by our old friend, 
Jeremy Bentham, in his 1789 Introduction to the Principles of Morals and 

Albert's internationalism was, so to speak, manufactured by his faith in 
industrial technology. With its mechanical railways, steamships, mass news- 
papers and telegraph lines, the industrial revolution had reinvented the idea 
of physical distance, transforming a once geographically splintered world 
into a nascent McLuhanite global village. What Albert called the "realisa- 
tion of the unity of mankind" could already be seen a year before his Man- 
sion House speech, in the 1849 San Francisco gold rush, that disastrous 
expedition to foreign shores, an industriaF^ event that not only transported 
a quarter of a million argonauts from all over the world to California in un- 
der three years, but also injected the gold necessary to provide liquidity into 
the new global economic system. ^^ 

"The distances which separated the different nations and parts of the globe 
are rapidly vanishing before the achievements of modern invention, and we can 
traverse them with incredible ease; the languages of all nations are known, and 
their acquirement placed within the reach of everybody; thought is communi- 
cated with the rapidity, and even by the power, of lightning," Vnnct Albert con- 
tinued with his Mansion House speech. "On the other hand, the great principle 
of division of labour, which may be called the moving power of civilization, is 
being extended to all branches of science, industry, and art. " 

But in spite of the death of distance, Prince Albert knew there was some- 
thing else holding up the realization of mankind's unity. The new technol- 
ogy of the industrial network, for all its miraculous destruction of distance 


and its dramatic increase in the capacity to produce goods, hadn't necessarily 
brought people together. Indeed, even though Britain was the most advanced 
industrial nation on earth in 1850,^' it was also, in many other ways, the most 
divided. What Prince Albert called the "great principle of division of labour" 
had, in fact, resulted in an economic chasm not only between Britain and 
the rest of the world but also between the new rich, the capitalist architects of 
the industrial production, and the new poor, the new industrial working 
class that comprised a large proportion of London's one-and-half-million 
inhabitants in 1850 as well as the growing population of inmates locked 
inside Victorian Britain's industrially designed, Benthamite prisons. 

In the mid nineteenth century, the industrial prison and the industrial 
factory were often indistinguishable. "Modern industry has converted the 
little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the indus- 
trial capitalist. Masses of labourers, crowded into the factory, are organized 
like soldiers," wrote Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their 1848 pamphlet 
The Communist Manifesto, along with John Stuart Mill's On Liberty, the 
most influental political treatise of the nineteenth century. "Not only are 
they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the Bourgeois State; they are daily 
and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, by the 
individual bourgeois manufacturer himself "^^ 

While there is no record that Prince Albert read the Communist Mani- 
festo, he certainly was well aware of the dreadful lives of the English indus- 
trial proletariat, whom he described as "that class of our community which 
has most of the toil and least of the enjoyments, of this world."^^ Through- 
out 1848, for example, the year of acute political tension in England, and of 
revolutions throughout most of Europe, he pestered Lord John Russell about 
the suffering of the workers, telling the British prime minister that the gov- 
ernment was "bound to do what it can to help the working classes over the 
present moment of distress." The Irish potato famine and Chartist violence 


of 1848 only made a bad situation even worse. "It is dreadful to see the suf- 
ferings at this moment," Prince Albert — who was also the president of The 
Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes — wrote that 
year after visiting a particularly grim London slum.^"* 

The situation was seen as being so bad during the Chartist demonstra- 
tions of April 1848 that the Duke of Wellington, the popular general who 
defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, transformed London into a gigan- 
tic Inspection-House, teeming with police spies and controlled by a massive 
garrison of troops. Wellington, who was enlisted by the prime minister. 
Lord John Russell, as a popular symbol of law and order, barricaded Blooms- 
bury 's British Museum, sandbagged the Bank of England, reinforced all of 
London's penitentiaries with heavily armed guards and mobilized a small 
army of prying security staff, including what A. N. Wilson describes as an 
"astonishing" 85,000 special constables. ^^ Visibility had, already, become a 
trap. Indeed, it is likely that one of these special constables took the first- 
ever photographs of a major historical event, the earliest origins of contem- 
porary photography social networks like Instagram, capturing daguerreotypes 
of what Wilson describes as "drizzly pathos" that were later used by police 
spies to identify and imprison troublemakers. 

There were three ways of trying to heal the international discord and 
splintering of society during the mid-nineteenth-century industrial revolu- 
tion. The first was, like Marx and Engels, to become a revolutionary com- 
munist and try to destroy capitalism in order to reassemble humanity via 
the holy grail of a universally classless, high-tech society in which we'd be 
free to "hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon and rear cattle in the eve- 
ning."^^ The second was to retreat, like the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood or 
the anti-industrial Luddite movement, into a reactionary medieval world, 
an ur-past of organic community and heroically unselfish knights — a strat- 
egy that transformed history into fairy tale pictures. And the third option 


was to try to reform the system from within, healing over social divisions 
and pursuing policies that seemed to unite rather than divide people. 

Prince Albert was a reformer rather than a Utopian revolutionary or reac- 
tionary. And that is what had brought him to the neoclassical Egyptian 
Room in the early Spring of 1850. He was there to describe his strategy for 
realizing the unity of mankind. "He [Prince Albert] believed that the world 
had reached a stage where all knowledge and innovation were recognized 
as being the property of the international community as a whole, not some- 
thing that needed to be protected by secrecy from the gaze of outsiders," one 
historian observed.^^ Albert had, therefore, come to Mansion House to pro- 
mote a transparent event that would openly celebrate science, technology 
and the laws of motion. This festival of innovation, with its faith in open- 
ness and transparency, would bring the world together. It was to be called 
the Great Exhibition. 

"Science discovers these laws of power, motion, and transformation; indus- 
try applies them to raw matter, which the earth yields us in abundance, hut 
which becomes valuable only by knowledge. Art teaches us the immutable 
laws of beauty and symmetry, and gives to our productions forms in accordance 
with them," Prince Albert explained to his audience in the Egypt room. 
"Gentlemen — the Exhibition of 1851 is to give us a true test and a living pic- 
ture of the point of development at which the whole of mankind has arrived in 
this great task, and a new starting point from which all nations will be able to 
direct their further exertions. " 

London's 1851 "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Na- 
tions," as it officially became known, would indeed be a "true test" to trans- 
form warring social classes and nations into friends and realize the unity of 
mankind. But this was to be no ordinary exhibition. You see. Prince Albert, 
himself a gifted amateur portrait painter, had found a revolutionary archi- 
tect to construct a temple of transparency for his Great Exhibition. 

He had found a gardener with a genius for building glass houses. 


The Crystal Palace 

Prince Albert first came across the work of this gardener in December 1843. 
The Prince Consort and Queen Victoria had been visiting the Derbyshire 
estate of the Duke of Devonshire, today best known for Chatsworth House, 
a palatial seventeenth-century neoclassical country house with a panoramic 
view of the surrounding parks and gardens. 

But at Chatsworth, the view that captivated Queen Victoria and 
Prince Albert was of a revolutionary iron-and-glass conservatory built by 
Chatsworth 's head gardener, a landscape architect from humble roots 
named Joseph Paxton. Queen Victoria described it as "the finest thing imag- 
inable of its kind," while Prince Albert called it "magnificent and beauti- 

Prince Albert never forgot Joseph Paxton's great iron-and-glass building 
and, after other architectural projects were deemed too expensive, he called 
on Paxton — by then a minister of Parliament — to build an industrial glass 
and steel palace to house the works of industry of all nations. Thus, as Bill 
Bryson notes, "In the autumn of 1850, in Hyde Park in London, there arose 
a most extraordinary structure: a giant iron-and-glass greenhouse covering 
nineteen acres of ground and containing within its airy vastness enough 
room for four St. Paul's Cathedrals."^^ 

What Paxton built in Hyde Park in just five months in 1850 was, ac- 
cording to Prince Albert, "truly a piece of marvelous art,"'^^ Bill Bryson 
describes it as "the century's most daring and iconic building,'"^^ and Eric 
Hobsbawn calls it a "brilliant monument"'*^ for the achievements of the 
industrial revolution. Its architecture was the opposite of Benjamin Wood- 
ward's dark Oxford library. The building was comprised of 293,655 panes 
of glass, more than 4,500 tons of iron and, most amazingly, twenty-four 
miles of guttering. The satirical magazine Punch dubbed it "The Crystal 
Palace" and the name stuck. For his festival of innovation with its goal of 
eliminating the secrecy of the preindustrial world, Prince Albert had 


commissioned a transparent glass palace that would be impossible to pro- 
tect from the gaze of outsiders. 

"After breakfast we drove with the 5 children to look at the Crystal Pal- 
ace, which was not finished when we last went, and really now is one of the 
wonders of the world, which we English can be proud . . ." Queen Victoria 
wrote in her journal in February 1850. "The galleries are finished, and from 
the top of them the effect is quite wonderful. The sun shining in through 
the transept gave a fairy-like appearance. The building is so light and grace- 
ful, in spite of its immense size. Many of the exhibits have arrived It made 

me feel proud and happy."^^ 

Not everyone, of course, admired Paxton's industrial miracle of iron and 
glass with either Queen Victoria's enthusiasm or pride. The gothic skeptics of 
technology and progress were, to say the least, underwhelmed. The patron 
saint of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the critic John Ruskin, described 
the Crystal Palace as "a cucumber frame between two chimneys," while Ed- 
ward Burne-Jones, one of the Pre-Raphaelite artists who painted the walls of 
the Oxford Union, found Paxton's architectural design to be "cheerless and 
monotonous. ^^ 

But while the symbol of the Great Exhibition of 1851 was Paxton's 
transparent glass and iron palace, its social significance was Prince Al- 
bert's attempt to unify the human race through a universal celebration of 
technology and science. The exhibition showed off 100,000 items of 
14,000 firms from Britain and around the world. It was a cornucopia of 
industrial design, mechanical technology and steam powered machines. 
There were machines for saving human labor, printing presses and steam 
engines, mechanical globes, exhibits of the recently invented science of pho- 
tography, prototypes of submarines and industrial printing presses, even 
machines for tipping people out of bed. Ironically, the only exhibit miss- 
ing was Charles Babbage's proto-computer, his Difference Engine, which. 


perhaps because of its or his unimaginable foreignness,"^^ was rejected by 
the organizers of the exhibition. 

The engineering achievements exhibited in the Crystal Palace were 
matched by the Great Exhibition's social engineering achievements. As the 
historian Benjamin Friedman notes, "the Great Exhibition was an exuber- 
ant celebration of the idea not just of scientific and therefore material prog- 
ress but ... of progress in social, civic and moral affairs too.'"^^ Prince 
Albert's grand goal — to bring people together and break down the social 
boundaries of nineteenth-century life — had, in many ways, been successful. 
So, in spite of the fears of socialist insurrection that resulted in the opening 
ceremony being a private rather than public event, the Great Exhibition was 
the first genuinely open, inclusive event of the nineteenth century in which 
the English working classes and the aristocracy physically mingled together 
as citizens of the same nation. 

As Michael Leapman describes in The World for a Shilling: How the Great 
Exhibition of 1 85 1 Shaped a Nation, his vivid narrative of how the exhibition 
affected the lives of ordinary people. Prince Albert's Great Exhibition really 
did contribute to the creation of a collective British identity. Indeed, after 
its move from Hyde Park to the South London suburb of Sydenham (today 
known as Crystal Palace) in 1854, Paxton's building was popularly known 
as the "Palace of the People"^'^ and attracted 60 million visitors over the next 
thirty years.^^ 

In many ways then, the Great Exhibition was a triumph of Prince Al- 
bert's faith in nineteenth-century industrial technology to realize the unity 
of mankind. But the internationalist Prince Consort, who died in 1861 at 
the young age of forty-two, departed from the historical stage at the very 
moment when all his precious optimism about the industrial revolution's 
"great transition" was beginning to shatter into many pieces. Rather than 
the unifier of mankind, industrial technology, it turned out, was helping to 


disunite us into distrustful social classes, tribes and nation-states at perpet- 
ual war with one another. 

The Shattering of the Glass 

On the night of November 30, 1936, the sky over London was bloodred 
with 500-foot flames fanned from a high northwesterly wind. Joseph Pax- 
ton's Crystal Palace, that mid-nineteenth-century hope for a more transparent 
and inclusive industrial world, was ablaze. In spite of the efforts of hundreds 
of fire engines, firemen, and policemen, Paxton's palace, all 293,655 panes of 
glass, quickly dissolved into a heap of melted glass and buckled metal, the 
victim of what fire experts called the "funnel effect" of the high winds and 
the building's combustible wooden floorboards. A Daily Mail reporter, 
watching the fire from a plane, described it as being "like a blazing crater of 
a volcano."^^ The fire was visible from Hampstead Heath in North London 
to the coastal cities of Brighton and Margate in the south. A half-million 
spectators watched the burning Crystal Palace in South London. And at 
nine p.m. that evening, even ministers of Parliament left a Commons debate 
to watch the fire from their Westminster committee rooms and terraces. 

They were watching the burning down of Prince Albert's internationalist 
dream. But, in truth, this death was little more than symbolic, the burial of a 
corpse that had already been dead for half a century. "Haughty with hope of 
endless progress and irresistible power" had been John Ruskin's observation 
about the Crystal Palace when it moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham in 
1854. Ruskin's warning about the hubris of Albert's faith in technology and 
science to bring us together had been right. As the nineteenth century drew to 
a close, the Crystal Palace struggled to establish what, in Silicon Valley, would 
be called a viable business model. Paxton's building fell into disrepair and 
debt. By 191 1 it had declared bankruptcy and during World War I this glass 
and iron building was renamed HMS Crystal Palace and, with a savage irony, 
was used as a naval training station for the Great War against Germany. 


By 1936, Prince Albert's dream had not only died in South London, but 
also throughout most of the world. His faith in industrialization and the 
belief that technology and science would unite us had proven to be tragi- 
cally misguided. Yes, Prince Albert was right that the analog networks of 
the mechanized age would create new identities and social organization, but 
his dream of history's "wonderful transition" turned out, in much of the 
world, to be closer to a nightmare. 

As the sociologist Ernest Gellner argues m Nations and Nationalism, the 
industrial revolution resulted in an explosion of nationalism rather than in- 
ternationalism. "Work, in industrial society, does not mean moving matter. 
The paradigm of work is no longer ploughing, reaping, thrashing," Gellner 
argued. "Work, in the main, is no longer the manipulation of things, but of 
meanings. It generally involves exchanging communications with other 
people, or manipulating the controls of a machine."^^ 

This new network of roads, railways, telegraph wires and the mechanized 
printing press did indeed provide the necessary architecture for this distri- 
bution of meaning, thereby replacing the old fragmented agricultural 
worlds with a much more physically connected society. But rather than 
Esperanto or a universal computer code, the dominant languages of this 
late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century industrial world were exclu- 
sive national discourses like Italian or German. These languages and their 
supposedly eternal cultural traditions and histories imprisoned us within 
narrow linguistic groups. Rather than creating the unity of man, they led to 
an age of the nation-state, a new kind of imaginary community in which we 
defined ourselves in unique terms that not only excluded neighboring nations 
but also cultural minorities within our own society. 

Take, for example, the modern history of Germany. When the good in- 
ternationalist Prince Albert died in 1861 his fairy-tale principality, Saxe- 
Coberg and Gotha, was a part of the South German confederation of Bavaria. 
In 1870, Bavaria joined Bismarck's Prussia in a war against France that 


culminated in the establishment of a united Germany in 1871. The history 
of Germany between 1871 and 1914 is dominated, on the one hand, by a 
remarkably successful industrial revolution and, on the other, by the rise of 
an increasingly assertive nationalism. Germany's defeat in World War I 
led to the rise of National Socialism and the emergence of an even more es- 
chatological communal identity, fused with a cult of medieval valor, mostly 
directed against the Jews, those symbols of the very modernity and interna- 
tionalism that Prince Albert had once idealized. 

In 1936, the fateful year that the Crystal Palace burnt to the ground, the 
German National Socialists had seized power and were aggressively de- 
ploying the latest technology and science to rearm the country. In Ger- 
many, however, the bloody night of broken glass took place a couple of 
years later, in November 1938. The National Socialists organized Kristall- 
nacht (literally: "the night of broken glass"), a modern, state-sponsored po- 
grom in which mobs destroyed the property of German Jews, smashing the 
windows of their homes and stores and carrying offa quarter of all German 
Jewish men to primitive high-tech prisons we now call concentration camps. 
So much glass was destroyed in forty-eight hours of rioting that it took two 
full years' production of the entire plate-glass production of Belgium to re- 
place it all. But Kristallnacht was only the beginning of the violence and 
hatred against outsiders. After that came another world war and the indus- 
trial death camps of Auschwitz and Belsen, which deployed the latest tech- 
nology and science in ways that Prince Albert, in his very worst nightmares, 
could never have imagined. 

What is most shocking about the organization of the death camps was 
their corruption of those two great pillars of Benthamite utilitarianism: social 
efficiency and central planning. "Belsen is said to have looked like an atomic 
research station or a well-designed motion picture studio," wrote Brave New 
World author Aldous Huxley in a savage swipe at Bentham's Inspection- 
House. "The Bentham brothers have been dead these hundred years and more; 


but the spirit of the panopticon, the spirit of Sir Samuel's mujik-compdiin^ 
workhouse, had gone marching along to strange and horrible destinations."^^ 

Meanwhile, to the east of Nazi Germany, the Russian Empire had degen- 
erated from the enlightened despotism of Samuel Bentham's eighteenth- 
century sponsor, Catherine the Great, into the twentieth-century oriental 
despotism of Joseph Stalin. Here, in the brave new collective world that had 
been Orwell's dark muse for the Ministry of Truth, facecrime, Ownlife and 
Big Brother, technology and science were being deployed in a nightmarish 
manner that transformed the country into an entirely transparent "'mujik- 
compelling workhouse." 

Having been articulated in the Utopian language of the brotherhood of 
man and the universal friendship of the working classes, the Soviet revolu- 
tion had been so corrupted by Stalin's terror that, as Hannah Arendt argues 
in Origins of Totalitarianism, its true impact was of individual isolation and 
weaker and weaker social ties. By November 1936, when the sky over Lon- 
don was bloodred with flames, Stalin's version of the great exhibition, his 
public show trials, conducted by his so-called "apparatchik," the functionar- 
ies of his brutal five-year plans, were reaching their bloodily exhibitionistic 

What the apparat created was a regime in which the camera was never 
switched offand the peephole never slammed shut. Even after Stalin's death. 
Big Brother remained in power. In East Germany, for example, tens of thou- 
sands of citizens were recruited by Stasi secret police as spies to watch their 
neighbors. By transforming society into a transparent prison that outlawed 
the liberty of independent thought, by turning East Germans into a vertigi- 
nous nation of Scottie Fergusons looking at the lives of others, the apparat 
killed individual privacy. As the Harvard University Law professor Charles 
Fried argues, privacy is intimately bound up with respect, love, friendship 
and trust, and is the "oxygen" by which individuals are capable of building 
social "relations of the most fundamental sort."^^ And it was exactly this 


oxygen that the apparatchik switched off — thereby destroying the respect, 
love, friendship and trust that traditionally existed between human beings. 
Thus, in the notorious Room 101 of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four, what 
the apparatchik finally smashed was Winston Smith's love for Julia, the 
very thing that made him human and gave him hope for the future. 

That was the real tragedy of totalitarianism. Instead of love, there was 
hatred; in place of friendship, there was individual isolation and mutual 
disrespect, fear and distrust. Hope for the future had been extinguished in a 
society that had become the most hideous parody of Jeremy Bentham's hid- 
eously omniscient Inspection-House prison. 

The Return of the Future 

You'll remember that Karl Marx wrote that history repeats itself— first as 
tragedy, then as farce — while Reid Hoffman, the co-owner of our future, 
predicted that this future is always sooner and stranger than we think. But 
today, when the dream of the unity of man has been resurrected by Utopians 
like Philip Rosedale, what exactly is that collective future? Could the Inter- 
net really turn out to be a farcical gulag? Might Mark Zuckerberg's five-year 
plans to transform the Internet into a brightly lit dorm room incarcerate us 
all in an absurd global prison where we are all forced to live in public? 

In today's digital age, we know that the Big Brother of industrial society 
has been replaced by Walter Kirn's "vast cohort of prankish Little Brothers" 
equipped with their BlackBerrys, iPhones and Android fame machines.^^ 
Thus it would be not only be wrong, but also rather silly to suggest that Mark 
Zuckerbergis Stalin 2.0, or — whatever Julian Assange might claim — that 
Facebook is the new Stasi. 

In an April 2011 debate on TechcrunchTV, Tim O'Reilly, the pubHsh- 
ing mogul who invented the term Web 2.0 and Reid Hoffman, the archan- 
gel behind today's Web 3.0 revolution, debated what we had most to fear in 
a digital world overflowing with more and more personalized data.^"^ For 


O'Reilly, the fear was all-powerful corporations, while @quixotic's greatest 
fear was government. But they both missed a third spectre (and the third 
rail in a democracy like the United States) that, in some ways, is more chill- 
ing than either snooping government or corporations. O'Reilly and Hoff- 
man forgot about the billions of little brothers who will, by 2020, own 50 
billion smart devices connected to the network. They thus failed to ac- 
knowledge that what we most have to fear in the twenty-first century might 
be ourselves. 

"The seeing machine was once a sort of dark room into which individuals 
spied; it has become a transparent building in which the exercise of power 
may be supervised by society as a whole." Michel Foucault wrote about the 
way in which Bentham's Inspection-House "spread throughout the social 
body" in the industrial age.^^ But Foucault died in 1984, the fateful year that 
Apple told us to "think different," and thus was never able to see the resurrec- 
tion of the Inspection-House as the great tribunal committee of our new 
digital world. 

This shift in power from a single omniscient twentieth-century Big 
Brother to the vast cohort of twenty-first-century Little Brothers is what 
distinguishes our future from the age of the great exhibition. The failure of 
totalitarianism, the decline of the role and power of government in most 
democratic societies and today's general cynicism toward all forms of politi- 
cal authority is, as British filmmaker Adam Curtis argues, "the ideology of 
our times." Yet, while power has shifiied from the analog center to the digital 
edge, away both from evil dictators like Stalin and well-intentioned reform- 
ers like Prince Albert, that doesn't mean that power has been eliminated or 
that we really are about to realize a new unity of man. What, in fact, we see 
when we gaze into the future is that all the glass once used by Joseph Paxton 
to build the Crystal Palace has, in our age of great exhibitionism, been 
transformed into billions of Auto-Icons. 

What we see in this future are pictures so strange that they could have 


been created by the author o^Absurdistan. We see the return of the apparat- 
chik as an omniscient wireless device. We see a society that is becoming its 
own electronic image, a (dis)unity of little brothers. We see human beings 
turned inside out, so that all their most intimate data is displayed in the full 
gaze of the public network. We see a reputation economy in which respect, 
love, friendship and trust are replacing cash as society's scarcest and thus 
its most valuable commodity. We see a Super Sad True Love Story featuring 
global super-nodes with millions of friends who don't know the names of 
their neighbors. We see digital vertigo. More and more digital vertigo. 

Yes, these pictures from the future are as a weird as hell. 

So imagine a world without either secrecy or privacy, where every- 
thing and everyone is transparent. Imagine the return of the apparatchik 
in a world where we all live in public. Imagine yesterday's crystal palace 
metamorphosing into tomorrow's crystal prison where we have incarcer- 
ated ourselves in an infinite hall of mirrors. And imagine, if you can, a 
nineteenth-century Benthamite Inspection-House that is simultaneously a 
twenty-first-century luxury hotel. Because that is exactly where we must go 
next to view these haunting pictures from the future. 


@JetPacks: What kind of mother holds a press conference upon hearing of her 
little girl's death? Is THIS your shot at stardom that you can't pass up? 

The Crystal Prison 

It was the morning of my debate about the future with Reid Hoffman at 
Oxford. Later that day, we would discuss whether social media communi- 
ties would replace the nation-state as the source of personal identity in the 
twenty-first century. But, for the moment, I was standing in the center of 
what appeared, at first glance at least, to be an industrial prison. The jail in 
which I found myself, to borrow some words from Michel Foucault, con- 
tained "so many cages, so many theatres in which each actor is alone."^ De- 
signed to maximize the visibility and solitariness of its inmates, this industrial 
prison was, in Foucault 's language, the "reverse of the principle of the dun- 
geon." Its goals were as simple as its architecture: surveillance and control. 

From my perch on a second-floor metal staircase in the central atrium of 
the prison's "A" Wing, I had a panoramic view of the well-lit, airy building 
with its solitary cages and theaters spread out all around me. To my left and 
right stretched long corridors of symmetrically spaced cells, all with identi- 
cal caste-iron doors and spy-holes crisscrossed with thin metal bars. Above 
and beneath me were more floors with more corridors lined with more cells, 
more metal doors and more peepholes. By swiveling around in a circle, I 


could see all the doors of all the cells on all the floors of "A" Wing. The view 
gave me a feeling of omniscient control. As if I was God, perhaps. Or Jeremy 

It isn't surprising that the original architect of this Oxford prison was 
William Blackburn (1750-1790), "the father of the radial plan for prisons"^ 
and Britain's leading pioneer of Bentham's ideas. Begun in 1785, a couple 
of years before Bentham published his open letter from Russia about the 
Inspection-House, Blackburn's prison replaced what had popularly become 
known as the "dung-heap"^ of Oxford castle's notoriously chaotic public 
dungeons with a brand-new semicircular building designed as a giant eye to 
watch over its inmates. 

The prison's three-tiered "A" Wing had been added between 1848 and 
1856 — overlapping, as it happens, with the building of Prince Albert's 
equally light and airy Crystal Palace, and incarcerating many of the same 
impoverished men and women"^ that the enlightened Albert hoped would 
visit the Great Exhibition. It was a prison premised upon the principle of 
perpetual peeking, a very different kind of great exhibition from the festival 
of science and technology put on in the Crystal Palace. Cells were built with 
one-way spy-holes that destroyed the prisoner's privacy and enabled the au- 
thorities to watch them at will. Solitary confinement replaced physical beat- 
ing as the dominant mode of punishment. Prisoners were given numbers 
that became their institutional identity. Beginning in the 1860s, the authori- 
ties developed a system of criminal record-keeping that took advantage 
of the then-revolutionary technology of photography to establish mug shots 
of the prisoners. Those incarcerated in Oxford prison, to borrow some words 
from Mark Zuckerberg, possessed only one identity. The point was to super- 
vise the prisoners' every movement and manage their time down to the very 
minute so that they were transformed from complex human beings with 
their "own lives" into packaged time lines of processed information. 

Not much changed in "A" Wing between the late nineteenth and twenti- 


eth centuries. "The present Oxford prison," notes Jan Morris in the mid- 
1960s, "in the grim purlieus of the castle ... is a small but awful place, filled 
with the janglings of keys, the scraping of padlocks, the tramp of feet and 
the voices of warders echoing against old stone walls."^ This is a picture with 
which many fans of classic sixties British movies will be familiar. The jail 
scenes of the 1969 movie The Italian Job — starring Michael Caine as the 
crooked Charlie Crocker and the inimitable Noel Coward as crime boss Mr. 
Bridget — were filmed in Oxford's "A" Wing and offer a blackly comic intro- 
duction to prison life during the late industrial age.^ 

By the early twenty-first century, however, "A" Wing jangled with the 
sound of a very different sort of key. In September 1996, Her Majesty's 
Prison (HMP) Oxford was, so to speak, unlocked and, in the language of its 
official guide, "redeveloped as a leisure and retail complex."^ A British com- 
pany called the Malmaison Group that creates hotels "that dare to be differ- 
ent"^ acquired the prison and, maintaining the simple architecture of 
William Blackburn's Benthamite building, turned it into a boutique hotel. 

It is now called The Oxford Mai and is a simulacrum of the nineteenth- 
century prison. The old cells have been transformed into luxury bedrooms 
distinguished by their original spyholes and caste iron doors. The "A" Block 
is now a bright, sunlit atrium, designed as a walkway between the hotel's pri- 
vate bedrooms and its public parts. And the old solitary confinement cells in 
the basement of the prison have been transformed into a tasteful restaurant, 
the Destination Brasserie, where I had just eaten a breakfast of grilled kip- 
pers and scrambled eggs with @quixotic. 

In one memorable scene from The Italian Job, Charlie Crocker breaks 
into the high-security prison in order to pitch Mr. Bridger with the idea of 
stealing $4 million worth of Chinese gold. Today, however, the Oxford Mai 
has become such a desirable place that it's not just innovative criminals who 
would like to break into its luxurious rooms. "This time we're taking no pris- 
oners," t\vc Oxford Mai's Web site playfully markets itself to guests like 


myself. "Imagine a prison that's a hotel. . . . Now imagine a prison that's sud- 
denly a luxury boutique hotel in Oxford, destination brasserie and hang-out 
for high-life hoodlums. Pinch yourself You're doing time at the Mai. " 

And I wasn't alone doing time at the Oxford Mai. All the technology inno- 
vators who were speaking at the "Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford" event — 
from Reid Hoffman, Philip Rosedale and Biz Stone to Chris Sacca and Mike 
Malone — were also guests in this luxury boutique hotel. To imagine all these 
social media magnates — especially the geeky, cheeky Stone and the cherubic 
Hoffman — locked up inside the luxurious bedroom of a refurbished prison is, 
of course, deliciously ironic. But the hotel's significance extends beyond 
irony. It's a picture of where we may, one day, all be living. 

As a British version of a Las Vegas theme hotel or a Hollywood set, some 
might see the Oxford Mai an example of what Umberto Eco and Jean Baud- 
rillard call hyperreality. "The completely real becomes identified with the 
completely fake. Absolute unreality is offered as real presence," Eco explains, 
while Baudrillard defines hyperreality as "the simulation of something which 
never really existed." History has repeated itself with the Oxford prison, 
Baudrillard and Eco might say, first as a tragedy and then as fake. 

Rather than a simple fake like Madeleine Elster in Hitchcock's Vertigo, 
however, the Oxford Mai is both a historical fact and an artifact of the future. 
While the twenty-first-century hotel has the appearance of a nineteenth- 
century prison, its real identity is the exact reverse. Instead of giving the au- 
thorities the power to look into the cell, the Oxford Mai empowers its 
customers with the technology to gaze out into the public atrium. "The 
peephole is reversed, so that guests can look out," Fodor's travel guide ex- 
plains the revised technology on the Mai's doors.^ With this reversal, Ben- 
tham's omnipresent master of the Inspection-House is replaced with Walter 
Kirn's atomized army of small brothers, the private peeps imprisoned in 
parallel electronic theaters, who can see out, but can neither be seen them- 
selves, nor know or observe their physical neighbor. 


We are encouraged to imagine a prison that's a hotel by the Malmaison 
Web site. But a better way to think about the Oxford Mai is to imagine a 
hotel that's a prison — a place that incarcerates us without us knowing it. And 
that's exactly what I was imagining on the morning of my Oxford debate 
with @quixotic about whether digital man would be more socially connected 
than his industrial ancestor. As I gazed onto the Mai's spotlighted atrium, I 
imagined the hotel — with the reversed peepholes on its iron doors — to be 
a microcosm of our socially networked future. But, I realized, there was one 
key ingredient of the future missing from the "A" Block. 


My eyes rolled up and down the Mai's long corridors lined with cages in 
which each hotel guest is perfectly alone. What would happen, I wondered, 
if all the caste-iron doors in the hotel disappeared? What if everyone, all the 
peeps in their parallel cells, could see what everyone else was doing? What if 
we all lived in public? 

I pinched myself Then what? 

We Live in Public 

"The future is already here," William Gibson observed in 1993, "it's just 
unevenly distributed." One version of the future, at least our social future, 
may have arrived, a handful of years after Gibson first made this prescient 
remark, at the very end of the twentieth century. An entrepreneur named 
Josh Harris invented it. "The greatest Internet pioneer you've never heard 
of,"^^ Harris is one of the earliest dotcom millionaires who, in the Internet 
boom of the nineties, founded the New York City-based Jupiter Research 
consultancy firm and the video Web site But Harris is less well 
known as an innovative hotel proprietor. And yet if Josh Harris is remem- 
bered as any kind of pioneer, it will be as the founder of a real malmaison — a 
hotel that, quite literally, was a prison. 

You'll remember that oversharing advocate Steven Johnson described 


today's Web 3.0 world as "a networked version of The Truman Show, where 
we are all playing Truman,"'^ Josh Harris took this one crazy step further. 
Having seen The Truman Show, Peter Weir's 1998 movie about everyman 
Truman Burbank (played with Jimmy Stewart-style innocence by Jim Car- 
rey) whose real life was broadcast to millions of rapt television viewers, Har- 
ris decided to transform Weir's fictional movie into a real-life experiment in 
uncensored, always-on broadcast media. 

At the beginning of December 1999, as part of an art project entitled 
"Quiet: We Live in Public," Harris opened a basement hotel in New York 
City called Capsule. It comprised one hundred pod-style rooms that, in 
contrast with the Oxford Mai, had neither walls nor doors. Capsule was 
designed to eliminate loneliness. It was a boutique social hotel, containing 
architecture of such radical transparency that nothing, not even its guests' 
most intimate actions or thoughts, were kept private. 

By turning his lens on his subjects so that they all became stars of their 
own twenty-four-hour-a-day broadcast show, Harris pioneered the social 
network business model a full decade before the birth of Hyperpublic, Air- 
time, BeKnown or LivingSocial. Everything in the Capsule hotel — from its 
food and alcohol served on its forty-foot dining table reminiscent of the 
communal tables in Sir Thomas More's Utopia to its pod-style accommoda- 
tion to the use of its underground gun range — was free. Everything that is, 
except, the information that the Capsule hotel guests, the 100 Truman 
Burbanks, generated. Josh Harris owned that information, a Term of Ser- 
vice made unambiguously clear to all the participants in the Quiet project. 

You see, the whole point of the Capsule hotel, its modus vivendi, was 
enabling real identities, blood-and-flesh people, to generate massive amounts 
of data. This Inspection-House envisioned @quixotic's idea of Web 3.0 be- 
fore anyone had even imagined Web 2.0.'^ There were, therefore, cameras 
everywhere in the hotel — in the communal dining area, in the pods, in the 
showers, even in the bathrooms. Josh Harris's "business model," if that's the 


right term for this grossly exploitative project — was the collection of the 
most intimate personal data from the hotel's residents. 

Fortunately, Harris's Capsule hotel experiment, this late-twentieth- 
century simulacrum of Bentham's Inspection-House, was itself captured on 
camera by the filmmaker Ondi Timoner in her 2009 documentary We Live 
in Public, which won the documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance 
film festival. Timoner's uncompromisingly intimate work, which she described 
to me as a "hyperbolic version of reality," is sobering viewing in a social me- 
dia age that Philip Rosedale insists will result in a unity of man. After a 
month of living in full view of the camera, the project broke down in collec- 
tive paranoia, sexual jealousy, hatred and physical violence. In its portrayal 
of the anti-social nature of such radical social transparency, MIT Professor 
Sherry Turkle, the author oi Alone Together, could have scripted We Live in 
Public. Rather than eliminating loneliness, Harris's experiment only com- 
pounded it. As one distraught participant in the Quiet project told Timoner, 
"The more you get to know each other, the more alone you become." 

The most troubling thing of all about Josh Harris's Quiet project was the 
reappearance of the apparatchik. As one hotel guest told Ondi Timoner in 
We Live in Public, "It was an absolute surveillance police-state." Once volun- 
teers checked into the Capsule Hotel, they weren't allowed to check out. 
With hyperreal bad taste, Harris and his minions even dressed themselves in 
the style of the apparat, cross-examining the citizens of Quiet in the sadistic 
style of the interrogators in Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon or Orwell's 
Nineteen Eighty-Four, digging for the most humiliating self-revelations 
about their mental breakdowns, drug addictions and attempted suicides. 

Not satisfied with ruining other people's lives, Harris then destroyed 
his own life by transforming himself into Truman Burbank. After the 
Capsule Hotel was shut down by the New York police on New Year's Day 
2000, he turned the prying, peeping cameras on himself and began to 
broadcast an entirely uncensored, twenty-four-hour version of his own life 

152 ANDREW KEEN This absurdly self-destructive experiment resulted 
not only in the death of Harris's most intimate friendship, his relationship 
with his girlfriend, but eventually in his own reputational and financial 
bankruptcy. Today, Harris lives in Ethiopia, in exile from his family, friends 
and creditors, the saddest Internet visionary you've never heard of, a corpse 
of a man who tried to own all of our images, but now owns nothing at all. 

But, rather than signaling the end of the future, Josh Harris's failure is 
actually just its beginning. As Ondi Timoner told me, "The Internet is herd- 
ing us along so that all of us are now trading our privacy." Instead, however, or the Capsule Hotel, the death of privacy will be 
authored by a little gadget that we tuck into our pockets or wear as a pendant. 

The Return of the Apparatchik 

The future might have once been unevenly distributed, but there will be a 
time when its distribution is universal. In this future, we will all have joined 
the apparat. Yes it will be as weird as hell. 

This future is called a Super Sad True Love Story. It is imagined by sati- 
rist Gary Shteyngart, the author of a creepy 2010 noveP^ about a dystopian 
future in which we all own a chic little device called an Apparat that quanti- 
fies and ranks the massive amounts of personal data being generated by our 
real identities. 

Shteyngart explains his data dystopia in which we all live in public: "Every- 
one has this device called the 'Apparat,' which they wear either tucked into 
their pocket or usually as a pendant. The moment you enter a room everyone 
judges you. So it has what's called 'Rate Me Plus' technology. So you're rated 
immediately. Everyone can chip in and rate everyone else, and everyone 

When he appeared on my TechcrunchTV show in July 2011, Shteyngart 
described this world as "William Gibson land."^^ It's a place where our per- 
sonalities are quantified in universally accessible, real-time lists akin to 


Internet reputation networks like Hashable or Kred. Mystery, privacy and 
secrecy will have all been eliminated in this transparent marketplace. To- 
day's reputation stock market Empire Avenue will have replaced Wall Street 
as the key exchange of value. It will be a pure reputation economy, a market- 
place of mirrors a perfect data market in how others see us. 

This Apparat, Shteyngart explained to me, is a fully mature, all-knowing 
version of those contemporary gadgets like the iPhone and Google's An- 
droid smartphones that spy on us today. "My Apparat quickly zoomed in 
past the data outflows spilling out from the customers like polluted surf 
falling upon once-pristine stores and focused on McKay Watson," Super Sad 
True Love Story s narrator, Lenny Abramov, notes about a complete stranger 
he happens to meet in a retail store, but whose most intimate information 

he had immediately accessed on his Apparat. "I caressed McKay's data She 

had graduated from Tufts with a major in international affairs and a minor 
in Retail science. Her parents were retired professors in Charlottesville, Vir- 
ginia where she grew up. She didn't have a boyfriend at present but enjoyed 
the "reverse cowgirl" position with the last one. . . ."^'^ 

In Shteyngart's world, we won't own the Apparat — it will own us. 
This all-knowing gadget is manufactured by a huge corporation called 
LandO'LakesGMFordCredit (today's "HyperPublicLivingSocialPeek- 
You," perhaps), which aggregates and stores all our personal information — 
our wealth, our worldliness, our dress sense, our sexuality — and broadcasts 
this to the entire world. In Super Sad True Love Story, we, the peeps, young 
women like McKay Watson, have been transformed, like Josh Harris and his 
pitiable girlfriend in, into transparent data, that most 
desirable of information (for everyone except ourselves). 

In this dystopia, we will all live in public in a permanent Capsule hotel, 
akin to contemporary social media networks like or Creepy. 
In this apparat-saturated world, everyone has a public profile with their 
income, their blood type, their cholesterol level, their sexual preferences. 


their spending power and, above all, their consumer habits. Nobody can 
escape the universal shadow of their apparat, which — with its Rate Me 
Plus technology — is the electronic realization of Bentham's Auto-Icon, an 
inescapable prison, a perpetual "A" Block in which we all live in our own 

There is no doubt that Shteyngart's dark adventure in William Gibson 
land is a super sad love story. But is it realistic? Could it turn out to be true'i 

The Scoble Story 

I have to confess that I made no reference to the Malmaison and Capsule 
hotels or the Apparat in my Oxford debate with Reid Hoffman. Nor did I 
mention Josh Harris, Gary Shteyngart or I suspect all 
these futuristic pictures of social media would have been dismissed by the 
rigorously analytical @quixotic as both excessively fantastic and pessimis- 
tic. Like Steven Johnson, Hoffman would probably have written off Josh 
Harris as a "holy fool" and "demented visionary" ^'^ who might be a compel- 
ling subject for a documentary movie, but who bore no relation to reality. 

And so our debate was rather dull, full of polite, respectful disagreement 
about what Peter Drucker described as the "great transition" between indus- 
trial and knowledge society, rather than a serious exchange of views. We 
both acknowledged that social media communities would, in some ways, 
replace the nation-state as the source of personal identity in the twenty-first 
century. But what would this future look like? We didn't know because, in 
contrast with Gary Shetyngart, neither Reid Hoffman nor I had visited 
William Gibson land. 

But a few weeks after my Oxford debate with @quixotic, after I had re- 
turned home to Northern California, I took a trip into the future to see how 
social media would replace the nation-state as a source of personal identity 
in the twenty-first century. My journey began in San Francisco, at the 
Golden Gate Bridge, the site of Madeleine Lister's iconic dive into the Bay 


in Hitchcock's Vertigo. I was driving south, down through San Francisco 
where Biz Stone's Twitter is headquartered, down through the Santa Clara 
Valley, once known as the "valley of heart's delight" but today the corporate 
location of Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook, Reid Fioffman's Linkedin, Larry 
Page's Google and the hundreds of other Silicon Valley companies building 
the social architecture of our Web 3.0 world. 

I drove south on Route 101, that notoriously clogged artery that links 
San Francisco with San Jose and, even farther south, passes close to San Juan 
Bautista, the eighteenth-century mission settlement where Fiitchcock filmed 
Madeleine Elster's murder and Judy Barton's suicide. But I got off 101 before 
San Jose and headed west, winding my way through the Santa Cruz moun- 
tains where Hitchcock himself once had a house and arriving on the Pacific 
coast just north of Pescadero, the little fishing village where Gordon Moore, 
Intel's co-founder and the author of Moore's Law, grew up. 

"One final thing I have to do and then I'll be free of the past," Scottie 
Ferguson tells Judy Barton in Vertigo's final scene as they drive south from 
San Francisco down the Californian coast toward San Juan Bautista. But 
rather than freeing myself of the past, my business over the Santa Cruz moun- 
tains was visiting the future. I'd come to the Pacific coast to interview Rob- 
ert Scoble, Silicon Valley's uber-evangelist of social media and one of the 
earliest settlers in William Gibson land. 

Unlike Josh Harris, Robert Scoble is neither a "holy fool" nor a "demented 
visionary." A former "chief Humanizing officer" at Microsoft;, columnist at 
Fast Company magazine, and the co-author of a well-received book about the 
value of transparent conversation,^^ Scoble is a much admired evangelist of 
social media and among Silicon Valley's most influential cheerleaders of to- 
day's digital love-in. ^t Economist magazine described him as a "minor celeb- 
rity among geeks worldwide,"^^ and the Financial Times newspaper included 
Scoble — who tweets to his almost 200,000 followers as @scobleizer — in their 
March 2011 list of the five most influential tweeters in the world.^° 


If William Gibson is correct and the future has already arrived, then it 
has shown up in the shape of @scobleizer. He is among the most hypervis- 
ible figures in digital society, with a Klout ranking higher than that of 
Barack Obama.^^ In addition to his commitment to Twitter — where he has 
authored over 50,000 tweets in the five years since joining the service in 
2006 and to Google + where he amassed 114,500 followers in just six 
weeks, ^^ he has been a very vocal early champion of the geo-location service 
foursquare as well as the social planning network Plancast, the social driv- 
ing network Waze, the social traveling network Tripit, the social photogra- 
phy network Instagram, the social food network My Fav Food, the social 
television network Into. now, and even Cyclometer, the social bicycling 
network where you can follow him as he rides around Silicon Valley. ^^ 
Wherever he is, whatever he is doing or thinking, Scoble can be found by 
his network. He lives in William Gibson land — a place not unlike the 
town of Seahaven in The Truman Show, a giant electronic stage where all of 
his activities are broadcasted all of the time. 

Above all, Scoble is a champion of what he calls an "open web" and of 
living in public. He frequently announces the death of privacy, confessing 
on my TechcrunchTV show in December 2010 that "even if we tried to have 
a conversation that was private, the likelihood that it would stay private isn't 
very high." Not that @scobleizer, who openly tweets about almost every as- 
pect of his life, cares about the disappearance of the private realm. "I want to 

live my life in public Me, count me out of this whole privacy thing," he 

blogged in May 2010, confessing that "I wish Facebook had NO PRIVACY 

This champion of publicness lives — physically resides, that is — with his 
wife and children in the exclusive Pacific coast town of Half Moon Bay, an 
idyllic seaside resort that, in its spotlessness, resembles The Truman Show's 
Seahaven. Scoble 's mock Mediterranean-style house is up the road from 
the luxury Ritz-Carlton Hotel, located inside a gated community made up 


of identical mock Mediterranean-style houses. As I checked in with the se- 
curity officer guarding Scoble's community from the outside world, I 
couldn't help thinking about the not entirely unsurprising paradox of the 
world's leading champion of openness living inside a gated community of an 
exclusive Pacific coast town — an enclave within an enclave — that cut him 
off from the rest of the world. 

"What's the number of Robert Scoble's house?" I asked the uniformed 
security guard who controlled the electronic gate to the housing complex. 

But I must've misheard the number, because when I rang on the bell of 
the house, the man in the baseball cap and shorts who opened the door had 
never heard of the hypervisible Scoble. "Who?" he replied to me blankly about 
a global celebrity who possesses one the most hypervisible brands on the 
Internet. Obviously, the guy wasn't on Yatown, or Hey, 
Neighbor!, the social networks that connected actual neighbors and neigh- 

As it happened, Scoble lived in the house over the street. He greeted me 
with his signature "Hey, what's up!" and we went upstairs to the studio from 
where he broadcasted himself The personally very likeable social media 
evangelist — whose cheerful manner, shiny face, and opaque eyes really do 
bring to mind Truman Burbank — sat opposite me. Behind him was a thirty- 
inch computer monitor broadcasting @scobleizer's page on Twitter. Every 
few seconds, a new tweet from one of Scoble's Twitter friends appeared on 
the screen. So, as I looked at the real Scoble, I was simultaneously looking at 
his Twitter feed too. Here, I realized, was a digital Jeremy Bentham inside 
his electronic Auto-Icon — a man who resembled his own images. He had, 
quite literally, become information. Not only was it as weird as hell, but it 
was super creepy, too. 

"How long you have you been living opposite each other?" I asked Scoble 
about his neighbor. 

"A couple of years." 


"And he doesn't know you!?" 

Ihe irony of one of the world's best known and most popular social 
media evangelists not being known by the man over the street only com- 
pounded the surreal experience of simultaneously staring at Scoble and his 
Twitter feed. I was looking for the human in Scoble, but couldn't see it. For 
a moment, I wondered if he really existed. Maybe Scoble really was @scoble- 
izer. Perhaps, I imagined, this social media evangelist who has chosen to ex- 
ist in public actually does live on the network. 

In a sense, he does — on every network, that is, except Hey, Neighbor! or As we sat that afternoon in his media-saturated room, the 
pixellated glow of his screen casting a flickering shadow over his Truman- 
like face, Scoble explained to me that he chose to make his friends through 
social networks rather than through his immediate physical community in 
Half Moon Bay. He confessed to me that he had more in common with 
Web programmers in Beijing and social media entrepreneurs in Berlin than 
he had with local people such as his unknown neighbor. Thus, he explained, 
he chose to make his friends on the Internet, using social networks to iden- 
tify people around the world with whom he shared interests. 

Scoble, I realized, represented a future that neither @quixotic nor I could 
clearly see in our Oxford debate. Scoble 's individualized, personalized com- 
munity — a peculiar synthesis of the cult of the individual and the cult of the 
social — offered the answer to how social media communities might eventu- 
ally replace the nation-state as the source of identity in the twenty-first cen- 
tury. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Ernest Gellner reminds us, 
individuals were united into physical communities by common languages 
and cultures; today, the community is becoming a reflection of that indi- 
vidual. Scoble 's social media community was, therefore, an extension of his 
self, a never-ending hall of mirrors all reflecting the same opaque image of 
Scoble — which explained why, in spite of his self-styled openness and good 
cheer, he seemed so solitary and lost, so creepily childlike, so much like 


Truman Burbank. Living within his enclave within an enclave, simultane- 
ously connected with everybody and nobody, his story, The Scoble Story, so 
to speak, is a sneak preview of how we will live alone together in the per- 
petually impermanent twenty-first century. 

It was, I realized, the new (dis)unity of man — a crystal prison of the self. 
As I stared at Scoble in his media room, crammed with the digital cameras, 
screens and other self-broadcasting esoterica that he carried everywhere 
with him, my mind went back to "A" Block in the Oxford Mai. His elec- 
tronic peephole was precluding the social media evangelist from communi- 
cating with his neighbors. As Richard Sennett has put it, "electronic 
communication is one means by which the very idea of public life has been 
put to an end."^^ And Scoble, with his free agent identity and Truman Bur- 
bank existential confusion, is one of the first residents of a digital society in 
which the social is simply an extension of what we, as individuals, want. 

There is one important difference, though, between The Scoble Story and 
The Truman Show. In Peter Weir's fictional movie, Truman Burbank had no 
idea that his life had become a real-time reality television show. In contrast, 
Robert Scoble not only stars in The Scoble Story but he is also the conscious 
producer and the director of his nonfictional show. There is nothing inevi- 
table about Scoble's hypervisible life. It's his choice to live so openly, to re- 
veal his location to his foursquare followers, to author 51,000 tweets, to 
photograph the Caesar salad on My Fav Food that he is eating at the Ritz- 
Carlton hotel in Half Moon Bay^^ and to distribute the images on Instagram, 
to be on Waze, Tripit, Into.Now, Cyclometer and all the other transparent 
networks of the social Web. 

"Are we all becoming Robert Scoble?" my TechcrunchTV show head- 
lined in December 2010. "One day, for better or worse," I warned, "we may 
all be Robert Scoble."^' 

The truth, however, is that the vast majority of us don't really want to 
become Scoble. Most of us aren't comfortable living, like @scobleizer, in the 


full glare of the electronic public spotlight. We aren't, as Reid Hoffman be- 
lieves, primarily social beings. And thus, in spite of the social revolution, we 
don't want all of our information — our photographs, our location, our meals, 
our thoughts, our travel plans, our bicycling trips — published for everyone 
else to see. 

So what to do? How can we make sure that our lives don't become 
versions of The Scoble Show and we become voyeuristic inmates of a luxury 
prison, entirely disconnected from our neighbors, yet possessing tens of 
thousands of "friends" that we have never and will never meet? How can we 
guarantee our right to privacy and secrecy in today's age of exhibitionism so 
that today's creepy doesn't become tomorrow's necessity? Above all, how can 
we be let alone so that we remain true to ourselves as human beings in a ver- 
tiginous Web 3.0 world that is already lurching into a weird synthesis of the 
eerily luxurious Oxford Mai and Josh Harris's radically transparent Capsule 

To begin our search for a cure to today's digital vertigo, we need to look 
at some pictures that were never intended to be displayed in public. And 
once again we must return to the middle of the nineteenth century, to a soci- 
ety grappling, like ours, with the consequences of technological innovation 
on an individual's right to protect their private lives from the public gaze. 



@amgorder Andrea Michelle Ybor — 6' 2" black man w scruffy heard blue shirt tan 
shorts driving commercial truck call me. broke into wayne & raped me. Glad im 
alive. (27 May via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply) 

@amgorder: The law has asked me to stop tweeting. Please contact their pr dept until 
I have clearance to discuss. Your support has been invaluable (5/27/11) 

The Most Valuable Pictures of 1848 

We begin with some pictures from an exhibition. This time, though, rather 
than a single painting, it is a series of copperplated etchings, made by two of 
the nineteenth-century's greatest paragons of private hfe. Prince Albert and 
Queen Victoria, in the first days of their marriage. There are sixty-three per- 
sonal etchings, of domestic scenes and of their family and friends, including 
their two eldest children, Bertie — the heir to Victoria's throne who would, 
as an undergraduate, enjoy the debates at the Oxford Union — and Vicky. It 
is an unintended exhibition, private pictures created strictly for their own 
enjoyment and celebrating their intimate friendship. 

Between October 1840 and November 1847, Victoria and Albert sent 
these pictures to a printer to make copies of the copperplates. But the printer's 
journeyman made his own copies of the etchings and sold them to London 
publisher William Strange, who released a printed exhibition of the works: 
A Descriptive Catalogue of the Royal Victoria and Albert Gallery of Etchings. ^ 
Strange even had the gall to promise purchasers of the catalogue a facsimile 


of either the queen's or the prince consort's autograph to go along with 
these private pictures. 

In 1848, the dispute appeared in court as Prince Albert v. Strange, a 
"famous case" according to Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis, the Boston 
lawyers who authored the iconic "Right to Privacy" Harvard Law Review 
article that, you'll remember, defined privacy as the legal right to be "let 
alone." In this 1890 article, written in reaction to the publication of an un- 
invited photograph in the Washington Post newspaper from the wedding of 
Samuel Warren's daughter,^ the lawyers argued that the technology of the 
industrial revolution had compromised our right to privacy. "Instantaneous 
photographs and newspaper enterprise have invaded the sacred precincts of 
private and domestic life; and numerous mechanic devices threaten to make 
good the prediction that what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed 
from the house-tops^' they wrote. "For years there has been a feeling that the 
law must afford some remedy for the unauthorized circulation of portraits 
of private persons."^ 

The English law came to the defense of Victoria and Albert's right to the 
privacy of their own pictures. The Prince Albert v. Strange case was ruled in 
favor of the plaintiff, the court holding that the common-law prohibited the 
reproduction of the etchings. And, as Warren and Brandeis argue, this rul- 
ing provided an important precedent in protecting the privacy of people's 
own images during the industrial age. 

Today's Web 3.0 revolution offers similarly profound challenges to the 
traditional law protecting individual privacy. The Ryan Giggs case, for ex- 
ample, which pitted 75,000 people tweeting details of the footballer's extra- 
marital sexual antics against a British High Court injunction banning 
public commentary about Giggs 's private life, has resulted in what Lionel 
Barber, the editor of The Financial Times, described as the "freedom debate 
of our age."^ On the one hand, the law obviously can't, of course, punish 
75,000 people for tweeting about Giggs 's sex life; on the other hand, how- 


ever, that same law, which is supposed to protect individual rights against 
society, has to offer some defense against public ridicule in a digital age in 
which anyone, it seems, can publish anything about anybody else. 

Lionel Barber is right to conclude that "the law is manifestly lagging" 
behind today's social media revolution. Unfortunately, the Giggs case is just 
the tip of today s legal iceberg. Everyone now — from the British plumber who 
tweeted about his supposedly adulterous wife^ to Julian Assange, the self- 
appointed tsar of WikiLeaked transparency, to the myriad of free speech 
fundamentalists on Twitter — seems to think they have the right to publish 
whatever they want online, without any consequences at all. So how can 
the law catch up with our use of this networked technology? In our Web 3.0 
world, should we be demanding more laws to protect the "sacred precincts 
of private and domestic life" against what nineteenth-century privacy advo- 
cates Warren and Brandeis called the "unseemly gossip" of public opinion? 

Mark Zuckerberg and Eric Schmidt certainly don't think so. In late May 
2011, in the week leading up to the G8 summit in Deauville, French Presi- 
dent Nicolas Sarkozy invited Zuckerberg, Schmidt and several hundred 
super-nodes including myself to Paris to discuss the need for government 
to regulate the Internet. Responding to Sarkozy 's call at the "e-G8" for the 
government to "civilize" the Internet and to protect the privacy of its users. 
Schmidt came out against what he called "stupid" governmental rules, argu- 
ing that "technology will move faster than governments, so don't legislate 
before you understand the consequences."^ Zuckerberg was sUghtly more 
diplomatic, but nonetheless made it clear that government would be unwise 
to regulate the innovations of today's social media companies. 

In some ways, Zuckerberg may be right. The most effective cure for to- 
day's destruction of privacy isn't an avalanche of new legislation. As I've al- 
ready argued, I'm against calls from British and Mexican politicians to 
suspend social networks during times of civil unrest. Nor am I in favor of 
either calls from the US Congress to block the Taliban on Twitter'^ or to 


legally enable the US Justice Department to unilaterally search the Twitter 
accounts of elected politicians in other countries.^ Like it or not, twenty- 
first-century democracy will be increasingly shaped by social media and so 
it's hard to argue that a democratic government should be able to shut down 
or control any network. 

Besides, as Eric Schmidt has argued, social media is, in many ways, just a 
mirror. The problem is that nobody is forcing any of us to update our photos 
on Instagram, reveal our location on MeMap or broadcast what we've just 
eaten for lunch on My Fav Food. The most truthful picture in our age of 
great exhibitionism is The Scoble Story. So, in spite of my concern about the 
increasing publicness of life in the social media age, I'm ambivalent about 
calling on the government or the law courts to protect us from our own 

As John Stuart Mill argues in On Liberty, government exists to protect 
us from others rather than from ourselves and the reality, for better or 
worse, is that once a photo, an update or a tweet is publicly published on the 
network, it becomes de facto public property. So, without wishing to sound 
too much like the uber-glib Eric Schmidt, the only way to really protect 
one's own privacy is by not publishing anything in the first place. 

That said, some governmental legislation in online privacy policy — such 
as the Federal Trade Commission's March 2011 settlement with Google 
over its egregiously "deceptive privacy practices" in the search engine's Buzz 
social network rollout^ — is necessary. So is a government response to some 
of Facebook's more flagrant disregard for individual privacy, such as the 
company's June 2011 announcement that they were adding the "face recog- 
nition" to their service as well as the twenty-year privacy settlement that 
the government reached with Facebook in November 2011 which requires 
the social network to get permission from its users before altering how their 
personal information is given out.^° But the problem, given the financial mus- 
cle, speed and virality of new networks like Twitter and Facebook compared 


with the slowness of government, is knowing where exactly to focus. As 
MSNBC's legal correspondent Bob Sullivan noted in March 2011, "there 
are no fewer than seven pieces of privacy-related legislation that have 
either been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, or soon will 
be."^^ That may be why the Obama adminstration called, in December 
2010, for the creation of an Internet "privacy bill of rights." This eighty- 
eight-page Commerce Department report also called for the establishment 
of a Privacy Policy Office that would "serve as a center of commercial data 
privacy policy expertise." ^^ The need for a more focused governmental re- 
sponse to the Web 3.0 revolution is also why, in May 2011, the White House 
announced its intention to offer up a National Data Breach Law intended to 
replace the patchwork of state laws with a single federal standard. ^^ 

Probably the most promising of this current U.S. legislation is West Vir- 
ginian Senator John D. Rockefeller's May 2011 "Do Not Track" bill, which 
would require Web 3.0 data companies to provide their users with opt out 
data collection buttons. The Senate Commerce Committee chairman is 
correct to demand that "consumers have a right to decide whether their in- 
formation can be collected and used online."^^ A number of companies, includ- 
ing Microsoft and Mozilla, have already complied with Rockefeller's bill and 
the American Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chairman, Jon Leibowitz, 
was right in April 2011 to call on the "laggard" Google to add a "Do Not 
Track" tool in its Chrome Internet browser.^^ 

Other legislation is required to guarantee that the law doesn't continue 
to lag behind technology. The April 2011 brouhaha over Google and Apple 
smartphones that continually track their users is certainly worthy of the 
careful U.S. Congressional scrutiny being pursued by Minnesota Senator 
Al Franken.^^ The former Saturday Night Live TV star is right to demand 
that Google and Apple should have what he called, in May 2011, a "clear 
understandable privacy policy" for their smartphone mobile apps.^"^ Given 
Google and Apple's pioneering role in the development of the cloud economy. 


Franken would also be wise to call for a similarly transparent privacy policy 
with respect to massively powerful new services like iCloud. 

The shift to the cloud opens up an entirely new front on the war to 
protect privacy. "A cloud gathers over our digital freedoms" warns Charles 
Leadbeater, a critic who sees, on the immediate horizon, a world of what he 
calls "Appbook" and "Facegoogle" corporations controlling our personal 
data.^^ Leadbeater is far from alone in fearing the cloud. "As the new new 
gadget I hold in my hand becomes increasingly personalized, easy to use, 
'transparent' in its functioning, the more the entire set-up has to rely on 
work being done elsewhere, on the vast circuit of machines which coordi- 
nate the user's experience," notes the Slovenian cultural critic Slavoj Zizek 
about the symbiotic growth of personalized technology and corporate 
power.^^ Our data privacy, therefore, is particularly vulnerable to "Appbook" 
and "Facegoogle" on the cloud and will require the careful government scru- 
tiny of responsible politicians like Al Franken. 

Senators John Kerry and John McCain's 2011 proposal to establish a 
Commercial Privacy Bill of Right is promising — although, as the Univer- 
sity of Chicago economist Richard Thaler argues^^ — it should also include 
the right for consumers to access their own data. And, as Senator Jay Rock- 
efeller has consistently argued,^^ there is a strong need to update the Chil- 
dren's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) — particularly given the 
phenomenal popularity of kids' social networks like Disney's Togetherville 
and Mark Zuckerberg's misguided belief that children under thirteen should 
be allowed on Facebook. 

The European Union has been much more aggressive than the United 
States government in pushing for privacy rights over social networks. On the 
all-important issue of online tracking by social media companies, for example, 
European privacy regulators have been pushing to establish an arrangement 
in which consumers could only be tracked if they actively "opt in" and per- 
mit marketers to collect their personal data.^^ Europeans have also been 


more aggressive in pushing back against the leading Web 3.0 companies. In 
April 2011, for example, the Dutch government threatened Google with fines 
of up to $1.4 million if it continued to ignore data-protection demands as- 
sociated with its Street View technology. ^^ Apple and Google face much 
tighter regulation in Europe with the EU classifying the location informa- 
tion that they have been collecting from their smartphones as personal 
data.^"^ European Union data protection regulators have aggressively scruti- 
nized Facebook's May 2011 rollout of its facial recognition software that 
reveals people's identities without their permission. ^^ Even European tech- 
nology chieftans, like Vittorio Colao, the CEO of the wireless giant Voda- 
phone, has openly criticized Zuckerberg's antigovernment stance at the e-G8, 
arguing that laws which enhance online trust and guarantee privacy are 
critical if the web is to become a civilizing force in the world. ^^ Certainly the 
privacy and data panel on which I spoke at the e-G8 was sharply divided 
between Europeans and Americans, with the chairperson of the Mozilla 
browser Mitchell Baker and Public Parts author Jeff Jarvis being much less 
sympathetic to government protection than European technology execu- 
tives like Intel's Christian Morales. 

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding is even intending social net- 
works to establish a "right to be forgotten" option that would allow users 
to destroy data already published on the network. "I want to explicitely 
clarify that people shall have the right — and not only the possibility — to 
withdraw their consent to data processing," Reding told the EU parlia- 
ment in March 201 1. "The burden of proof should be on data controllers — 
those who process your personal data. They must prove that they need the 
data, rather than individuals having to prove that collecting their data is 
not necessary."^^ 

But, as much as legal or political action, we need more consumer literacy 
about the core nature of Web 3.0 businesses. What consumers have to 
understand is that "free" services on the Internet are never really free. As 

168 ANDREW KEEN's CEO Michael Fertik told me, the business models of sup- 
posedly free social networks like Facebook is the sale of our information to 
their advertisers. We, the producers of data on the free network, are its prod- 
uct rather than its friend or partner. In the Web 3.0 age, therefore, consum- 
ers should not only carefully read their social network's Terms of Service 
(TOS) which often need to be shortened and simplified so anyone can un- 
derstand them (in contrast, for example, with Linkedln's 6400 word no- 
vella of a Privacy Policy), ■^^ but also to recognize that Facebook, Twitter, 
Google, Zynga, Groupon, Apple, Skype and the other corporate pioneers 
of (g)quixotic's personal data revolution are all multi billion dollar for profit 
companies, no better and no worse than for-profit banks or oil or pharma- 
ceutical companies. 

Privacy: The Web's Hot New Commodity 

The most effective solutions to protecting privacy may lie in the market and 
in technology rather than in an overreliance on the law. "Big oil. Big Food. 
Big Pharma. To the catalog of corporate bigs that worry a lot of us little 
people, add this: Big Data," you'll remember The New York Times' Nsitsisha. 
Singer arguing. ^^ But, as we rightly worry more and more about "big data" 
in our reputation economy, so we are seeing an explosion of start-ups like 
Fertik's,, Personal Inc, Safety Web, Abine Inc, 
TRUSTe, IntelliProtect and Allow that all sell privacy services to consumers. 
The Wall Street Journal calls privacy the "web's hot new commodity" and 
argues that "as the surreptitious tracking of Internet users becomes more 
aggressive and widespread, tiny start-ups and technology giants alike are 
using a new product: privacy."^^ 

The market is, of course, simply a reflection of our collective desires and 
actions. And it is to be hoped that we, as the market, will reject many of the 
more absurd or destructive social networks now being funded in today's so- 
cial gold rush. The key issue here is trust. Facebook 's chief technology officer 


Bret Taylor, with whom I've pubhcly clashed in the past about online pri- 
vacy,^^ framed it provocatively. "Trust is the foundation of the social web," 
Taylor explained to a highly skeptical Jay Rockefeller at a May 2011 Senate 
hearing about Facebook's policies toward children. "People will stop using 
Facebook if they don't trust in our services."^^ That trust may already be 
eroding. The New York Times' Jcnna. Wortham notes the growth of what 
she calls "Facebook Resisters," people, like myself (I shut my personal Face- 
book account in September 2011), who "steer clear of the site" because it 
makes "them feel more, not less, alienated."^^ Even Silicon Valley super- 
nodes like Techcrunch founder Mike Arrington and the organizer of the 
popular Le Web conference Loic Le Meur seem to be losing trust in Face- 
book, with Arrington explaining that nobody goes to it anymore because 
"it's too crowded"^'^ and Le Meur suggesting that the A-List now hang out 
with their friends on the supposedly more private Path network.^^ 

But in spite of its resisters, research shows that today's Facebook users are 
more trusting than average Internet users, ^^ which may be one reason why 
they are often so cavalier with the personal data that they reveal to their 
"friends." The challenge is to make users of networked Big Data services 
more, rather than less suspicious. Fortunately, there is some evidence that 
this is already happening in terms of our attitude toward some of the more 
radical social start-ups of today's Web 3.0 economy. Take, for example, 
Blippy, a much hyped 2009 social start-up co-founded by Philip Kaplan, the 
creator of Fucked Company, a notorious Web site founded during the 2000 
dotcom crash that celebrated the bankruptcies of many online businesses. 
Blippy, which raised $13 million in venture capital funding, is a social media 
network that requires its users to publicly publish their credit card purchases. 
Fortunately, the market has said a resounding no to such a patently ludicru- 
ous idea. "So it turns out that almost nobody wants people to check out 
their new purchases," explained Techcrunch 's Alexia Tsotsis in May 2011.^"^ 
Apparently, Blippy 's usage numbers were never "spectacular" and, not 


surprisingly, the site was mistrusted by most of its users. "Ouch," Tsotsis ex- 
claimed about the death of Blippy. Hallelujah, I say, about the demise of a 
social network that encouraged its users to publically publish all their credit 
card purchases. Fucked Company, indeed. 

It's not just Blippy that the market has rejected. Back in chapter one, I 
warned about SocialEyes, a start-up founded in January 2010 that created a 
transparent wall of online video cubes in which we could all watch each 
other watching each other. But in spite of raising over $5 million, SocialEyes 
never attracted many users and, by January 2012, the service was no longer 
available. Hopefully, this shows that the vast majority of us don't want to be 
transparent cubes in somebody else's video wall. Perhaps our eyes aren't 
quite as social as the digital communitarians would have us believe. 

The market may also be pushing the social networking companies to fo- 
cus more on making privacy central to their service. As Vic Gundotra and 
Bradley Horowitz underlined when I interviewed them on my TechcrunchT V 
show, Google -his distinguished from other networks, particularly Face- 
book, by its networks of friends called "Circles," which operate from the 
default of privacy rather than openness. After the publicity fiascos and 
market failures of Buzz and Wave, Google seems to have learnt that the 
public actually doesn't want fully transparent networks that broadcast ev- 
erybody's data to the world. "Rather than focus on new snazzy features . . . 
Google has chosen to learn from its own mistakes, and Facebook's. 
Google decided to make privacy the No. 1 feature of its new service," The 
New York Times' Nick Bilton notes about Google +?^ This focus on privacy 
is certainly one reason why the service attracted 20 million users in just 
three weeks after its informal launch and doubled its membership in its first 
100 days. And with new features like "Good to Know,"^^ which enables us- 
ers to monitor what's happening with their Google data, one can only hope 
that Google will emerge as a corporate paragon of privacy in the Web 3.0 age. 

The truth is that most of us don't want to share everything we read, 


watch and listen to online. Thus innovations in the marketplace may offer 
the most effective defense against invidious services like Facebook's Open 
Graph platform which, you'll remember, attempts to make all our media 
choices automatically public through Mark Zuckerberg's "Frictionless Shar- 
ing." After the updated launch of Open Graph at the f8 Conference in Sep- 
tember 2011, for example, a number of third party developers began offering 
Facebook users a way of retracting sharing from the Open Graph, with news 
outlets like The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal 
and The Independent also testing ways to enable their readers to mute Fric- 
tionless Sharing. '^^ And the music subscription service Spotify has done the 
same thing, adding the much needed "private listening" mode after some of 
its Facebook users complained about Frictionless Sharing.^^ 

In addition to the market, technology itself also offers the consumer a 
counter to what sometimes seems like the perfect memory of big data com- 
panies. According to The New York Times' Paul Sullivan and Nick Bilton, 
the Internet "is like an elephant"^^ that "never forgets"^^ — making it analo- 
gous to "S," the early twentieth-century Russian journalist described by 
Joshua Foer in Moonwalking with Einstein, as a man who, quite literally, re- 
membered everything."*"^ But Bilton and Sullivan are mistaken. The Internet 
doesn't have to be "S." Like the walls of the Oxford Union library, it is ac- 
tually quite capable of forgetting. Not only is EU justice commissioner 
Viviane Reding trying to legislate forgetting into law, but a couple of recent 
technological innovations offer hope that the Internet can, indeed, learn 
how to forget. German researchers at Saarland University, for example, have 
developed software called X-Pire which, according to the BBC, "gives im- 
ages an expiration date by tagging them with an encryption key." X-Pire is 
designed for those people who, in the words of Professor Michael Backes, of 
Saarland's Information Security and Crytography department, "join social 
networks because of social pressure . . . [and] tend to post everything on the 
first day and make themselves naked on the Internet."^^ 


The BBC also reports that researchers at the University of Twente in the 
Netherlands are working on technology that will allow data to degrade over 
time. This work, carried out by the university's Center for Telematics and 
Information Technology, is designed to make data impermanent. Over time, 
for example, location data would become vaguer and vaguer, shifting from 
a street address to a neighborhood and to a town and then to a region. "You 
can slowly replace details with a more general value," explains the project 
director, Dr. Harold van Heerde, thus guaranteeing — at least in the long 
run — that one's data will remain private. I'm not arguing that the Internet 
should become like "EP," an eighty-four-year-old brain-damaged lab tech- 
nician whom memory expert Joshua Foer describes as the "most forgetful 
man in the world.""*^ But an architecture of absolute forgetting is no more 
human than one that remembers everything. So if the Internet really is to be 
our twenty-first-century home, then we need to humanize it so that it exists 
as a compromise between the perfect memory of "S" and "E. P."'s nonexis- 
tent one. 

And if none of these cures work, there is always the Web 2.0 Suicide 
Machine, another technology of forgetting developed in the Netherlands. 
In contrast, however, with degrading data over time or giving it an expiration 
date, the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine kills all your social network data with a 
single software bomb. It's the nuclear option that enables you to totally 
"erase your virtual life."^^ 

"Wanna meet your real neighbors again?" the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine 
asks^^ in a drastic version of But the truth is that the nuclear 
option of the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine isn't a serious one in today's Web 3.0 
world, even for super nodes like Robert Scoble who have never met their 
neighbors. Rather than erasing our virtual life, we need to manage it. 
Rather than killing our thousands of online friends with the click of a Web 
suicide button, we need to shrink them down to a manageable number so 


that they become genuinely intimate friends rather than just data points in 
our narcissistic hall of mirrors. 

After all, how many complex relationships can one person really maintain? 

A Pipe of Crystal Meth 

According to the executive editor of The New York Times, friendship has 
become a kind of drug on the Internet, the crack cocaine of our digital age. 
"Last week, my wife and I told our 13 -year-old daughter she could join Face- 
book," confessed The New York Times' Will Keller in May 2011. "Within a 
few hours she had accumulated 171 friends, and I felt a little as if I had passed 
my child a pipe of crystal meth."'^^ 

A June 2011 Pew Research Center study of over two thousand Ameri- 
cans reported that electronically networked people like Keller's daughter 
saw themselves as having more "close friends" than those of us — those "weirdo 
outcasts" according to one particularly vapid social media commentator^^ — 
who aren't on Facebook or Twitter. The Pew report found that the typical 
Facebook user has 229 friends (including an average of 7 percent that they 
hadn't actually met^^) on Mark Zuckerberg's network and has more "close 
relationships" than the average American.^^ 

But this June 2011 Pew study made no attempt to define or calibrate the 
idea of "friendship," treating each one quantatively, like a notch on a bed- 
post, and presenting Facebook and Twitter as, quite literally, the architects 
of our intimacies. What this survey failed to acknowledge is that human 
beings aren't simply computers, silicon powered devices with infinitely ex- 
pandable hard drives and memories, who can make more friends as a result 
of becoming more and more networked. 

So how many real friends should we have? And is there a ceiling to the 
number of friendships that we actually can have? 

A couple of miles north of the Oxford Mai hotel sits the gray-bricked 


home of Oxford University's Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary An- 
thology. It is here, in the nondescript academic setting of a north Oxford 
suburb, that we find a man who has determined how many friends we really 
need. Professor Robin Dunbar, the director of this institute, is an anthro- 
pologist, evolutionary psychologist and authority on the behavior of 
primates, the biological order that includes monkeys, apes and humans. 
And he has become a social media theorist too, best known for formulating 
a theory of friendship dubbed "Dunbar's Number." 

"The big social revolution in the last few years has not been some great po- 
litical event, but the way our social world has been redefined by social network- 
ing sites like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo," Dunbar explains his eponymous 
number.^^ This social revolution, he says, attempts to break through "the 
constraints of time and geography" to enable uber-connected primates like 
@scobleizer to establish online friendships with tens of thousands of other 
wired primates. 

"So why do primates have such big brains?"^'^ Dunbar asks, rhetori- 
cally. Their large brains, he says, borrowing from a theory known as the 
"Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis," are the result of "the complex so- 
cial world in which primates live." It's the "complexity of their social rela- 
tions" defined by their "tangled" and "interdependent" personal intimacies, 
Dunbar argues, that distinguishes primates from every other animal.^^ And 
as the most successful and widely distributed member of the primate order, 
he goes on, humans brains have evolved most fully of all because of the intri- 
cate complexity of our "intense social bonds." 

Memory and forgetting are the keys to Dunbar's theory about human 
sociability. You'll remember that The New York Times' Paul Sullivan sug- 
gested that the Internet is "like an elephant" because it never forgets. But 
what really distinguishes animals like elephants from primates, Robin Dun- 
bar explains, is that they "use their knowledge about the social world in 
which they live to form more complex alliances with each other than other 


animals."^^ Thus primates have a lot more to remember about our social in- 
timacies than elephants — which may be one reason why humans forget 
things and elephants supposedly don't. 

For better or worse, nature hasn't come up with a version of Moore's Law 
that could double the size and memory capacity of our brain every two years. 
Thus, while our big brains are the result of our complex social relationships, 
they are still confined by their limited memories. And it's our biological in- 
ability to remember the intricate social details of large communities, Robin 
Dunbar explains, that limits our ability to make intimate friendships. 

"We can only remember 150 individuals," Dunbar says, "or only keep 
track of all the relationships involved in a community of 150." That is Dun- 
bar's Number — our optimal social circle, for which we, as a species, are 
wired. From traditional academic and military communities to those "oral" 
villages romanticized by nostalgic McLuhanites, Dunbar's research reveals 
that the optimal number of complex relationships that our brains can effec- 
tively manage has stayed the same throughout human history. So much, then, 
for Philip Rosedale's chiliastic faith in the unity of man. Or for @quixotic's 
"liquid" individual able to build vast electronic networks of friends. 

In Cult of the Amateur, my polemic against Web 2.0, I insulted some 
thin-skinned primates by comparing bloggers with monkeys. Rather than 
monkeys, however, Web 3.0 might be turning us into a small-brained spe- 
cies. Elephants perhaps, or sheep, or even swarms of insects. That's be- 
cause, as Robin Dunbar argues, "there is a limit to the number of people we 
can hold a particular level of intimacy."^" The 171 connections "accumu- 
lated" by Bill Keller's daughter within a few hours of her joining Facebook 
are, therefore, anything but "friends" in a truly primate sense and they do no 
justice to either her highly developed brain or her potential as a member of 
the human race to grasp the complexities of her community. 

So how can we teach this social complexity to the Keller girl? What is the 
best picture we can show her of genuine human friendship and intimacy? 


The Best Picture of 2011 

Rather than government legislation or new laws, the best cure for digital 
vertigo might be to watch a picture. Or two motion pictures, to be exact. 

The ideal of friendship as the defining quality of the human condition, 
rather than as a quantifiable asset to be aggregated, was demonstrated at the 
eighty-third Academy Awards in 2011, the annual Hollywood awards for 
the best movies of the year. Predictably enough, given the general hysteria 
currently surrounding the Web 3.0 revolution, most of the news about the 
2011 Oscars had been about social media. The Wall Street Journal described 
the eighty-third annual Hollywood gala as "The socialized and appified Os- 
cars" in which there were social media and mobile app tie-ins "up the wa- 
zoo"^^ While on Twitter, there were 1.2 million tweets produced by 388,000 
users during the three hours of the show's live television airing.^^ But social 
media also starred in the 2011 Oscar content, with the semifactual story 
about Mark Zuckerberg's controversial founding of Facebook — the David 
Fincher produced and Aaron Sorkin written The Social Network, being one 
of the two most popular and best received movies of the year. 

The Social Network features many of the characters from this book as 
semifictionalized characters in the story of Facebook 's earliest history such 
as the social media revolution's chief-rewiring-officer, Mark Zuckerberg and 
Sean Parker, Facebook 's one-time president and the co-founder of the social 
video network Airtime. There are also minor roles for Adam D'Angelo, the 
co-founder of the social knowledge network Quora, and for the original 
angel investor in Facebook, Peter Thiel, who was introduced to Parker and 
Zuckerberg by our old friend, @quixotic, the king of Silicon Valley con- 

Based on Ben Mezrich's controversially anecdotal 2009 hook Accidental 
Billionaires, Fincher and Sorkin's picture is a parable about friendship, iden- 
tity and betrayal at Facebook 's birth in the snowy New England winter of 
2003/2004. As the big-brained son of a Jewish dentist from New Jersey, 


Zuckerberg is presented as an outsider in Harvard's complex social world, 
with its ancient clubs, opaque customs and closed networks of American 
aristocrats. Professor Robin Dunbar, the director of Oxford University's 
Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthology, tells us our brains have 
been developed to grasp the complexity of Harvard's social arrangements, 
arguing "what keeps a community together is a sense of mutual obligation 
and reciprocity." But while it doesn't doubt the size of Mark Zuckerberg's 
brain. The Social Network presents Zuckerberg as a human being unable or, 
perhaps, unwilling to maintain the complex social obligations and reciproc- 
ity that enable us, in contrast with elephants, to develop intimate friend- 
ships with other primates. 

This semifictionalized Zuckerberg in Jhe Social Network could be seen as 
the model of what Georg Simmel, the turn of the twentieth century Ger- 
man sociologist, identified as the "individualism of difference" that defined 
modern democratic society.^^ Zuckerberg has no sense, none whatsoever, of 
social obligation or reciprocity, and he willfully chooses to ignore all the 
complexity and secrecy of social life at Harvard. In founding Facebook, a 
supposed "social network" of friends, Zuckerberg betrays his best friend and 
original partner who originally bankrolled the start-up, humiliates his girl- 
friend online, and steals the business idea from a couple of other under- 
graduates who had originally paid and trusted him to develop their Web 
site. For all his big-brained technical genius and business savvy, lonely Zuck- 
erberg is portrayed as a friendless computer programmer incapable of real 
social relationships who betrayed what it is to be human. Perhaps, then, it 
isn't coincidental that this socially dysfunctional programmer founds the 
dominant social network of the early twenty-first century — the company at 
the heart of our Web 3.0 "like" economy, a "personalized community" of 
almost a billion discrete individuals all alone together in their luxury cells. 

As it happens, the other illustrious picture of 2011 is also connected to 
fi some other characters from this book. You will remember Bertie, the oldest 


son of Albert and Victoria, whose childhood images had been amongst the 
private etchings at the source of the Prince Albert v. Strange lawsuit and 
who, as an eighteen-year-old undergraduate at Oxford in 1859, had fre- 
quented Benjamin Woodward's Union building every Thursday afternoon. 
After Queen Victoria's death in 1901, Bertie, the Prince of Wales, was 
crowned Edward VII. When Bertie died in 1910, his son, George V, became 
king. And therein lies the origins of lOll's other major picture, Tom Hoop- 
er's Jhe King's Speech. 

George V had two sons, Edward and Albert George (known to his loved 
ones also as Bertie). When George died in 1936, his eldest son became king, 
but by the end of the year had abdicated the throne to marry an American 
divorcee called Wallis Simpson. Jhe King's Speech tells the story of Bertie, 
who would become King George VI on his brother's sensational abdication 
in November 1936. 

Even compared with Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard in the winter of 
2003/2004, the England in the winter of 1936/1937 was an intricately com- 
plex society, on the brink of war with Nazi Germany and confronted with 
one of the most serious constitutional crises in its history. Jhe Kings Speech 
is a movie about how Bertie — who, no doubt, had a smaller brain than Mark 
Zuckerberg — successfully navigated this complexity, both in his personal 
and his public life. 

The heart of Jhe Kings Speech is the true story of an unlikely yet intimate 
friendship between the aristocratic Bertie and Lionel Logue, an unqualified 
and plebeian Australian voice therapist. Bertie's secret — which in today's 
Web 3.0 world would, no doubt, be tweeted into oblivion by the social me- 
dia mob — was his stutter, which disabled him from making public speeches. 
The greatness of Jhe King's Speech lies in its portrayal of the emotionally in- 
tense physical meetings between the future George VI and Logue, both the 
king and commoner taking care to remain themselves in a frighteningly 
complex social situation. The camera lingers on the two men as they build 


their mutual intimacy, establishing reciprocal trust, recognizing each oth- 
er's social obligations, demonstrating loyalty to one another, arguing and 
joking, slowly getting to like and then love one another. 

The 2011 Academy Awards offered us the choice, as best movie of the 
year, between one movie about betrayal and the breakdown of human rela- 
tionships, and another about the beauty of human intimacy and friendship. 
The Social Network is about a friendless billionaire who invented the "like" 
economy, while The King's Speech is about a loving father, husband and friend 
who remained true to himself and united a country. And that's the choice 
we need to offer Bill Keller's daughter: The choice between liking and lov- 
ing; the choice between being human and being an elephant or a sheep. 

"There is no such thing as a person whose real self you like every particle 
of This is why a world of liking is ultimately a lie," argues the novelist Jona- 
than Franzen in a passionate attack on the very social technology that en- 
abled Bill Keller's daughter to accumulate 171 friends in a few hours. "But 
there is such a thing as a person whose real self you love every particle of 
And this is why love is such an existential threat to the techno-consumerist 
order: it exposes the lie."*^^ 

Can you guess which movie won four Oscars at the eighty-third Academy 
Awards ceremony, a "coronation" that included awards for best director, best 
actor and best picture?^^ 


" 'Take care to remain yourself he had warned me so long ago. I wondered if 
I had done so. It was not always easy to know. " 


Exorcising Bentham 

In conclusion, we need to return to the beginning of this story, back to my 
vertiginous encounter in London with Jeremy Bentham's corpse. After that 
giddy experience in front of the Auto-Icon, I needed a drink or two. Tum- 
bling out of University College onto Gower Street — the Bloomsbury thor- 
oughfare where Charles Darwin had once lived and where, in the winter of 
1848-49, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood had been founded^ — I spied a 
pub in an adjacent side street. Switching on my BlackBerry Bold to check 
the time, I calculated that I had about another hour to myself in London — 
one more hour of freedom in the soft city before I needed to leave for the 
airport to catch my flight to Amsterdam where I was to speak at a social 
media conference the next day. 

It was getting dark as I crossed over Gower Street, darting between the 
stream of black taxis and red double-decker buses heading south into central 
London. Tucking my hands into my pockets, I walked briskly in the chill of 
the November afternoon. The pub was on University Street, no more than a 
few hundred yards from Bentham's Auto-Icon in the South Cloisters corri- 
dor of University College. As I got closer, I saw that, like most London 


public houses, there was a sign hanging high above its door. Designed in the 
shape of a giant pendant, it contained an image of an old man with beady 
eyes and shoulder-length gray hair. In spite of the late afternoon gloom, I im- 
mediately recognized him. It was a picture of Jeremy Bentham, from whose 
corpse I had been fleeing. 

Named The Jeremy Bentham, the pub was a living monument to the 
dead social reformer. There was even a historic black plaque on a wall out- 
side the pub's front door boldly enscribed JEREMY BENTHAM that be- 
gan with a description of his illustrious corpse on public show over the road 
in University College and ended in praise of his utilitarian philosophy: 

His "Auto-Icon" as he called it, is in fact his skeleton, dressed in his own 
clothes and topped with a wax model of his head. His actual head is 
mummified and kept in the college vaults. It is brought out for meetings 
of the college council and he is recorded as being present hut not voting. 
Above the bar can be seen a copy of the wax head, made by students at 
the college. In renaming the pub after him, we are reminded of his great- 
est ideal, "the greatest happiness of the greatest numbers. " 

My heart sank. Just as Scottie Ferguson couldn't escape Madeleine El- 
ster's corpse in Hitchcock's Vertigo, it seemed as if I couldn't get away from 
Jeremy Bentham's hypervisible dead body. Rather than having to sit at the 
bar and stare at a copy of Bentham's wax head while drinking my beer and 
eating my potato chips, I headed up a winding staircase to a small room that 
mercifully appeared to contain no mementos of the Inspection-House in- 
ventor. Nursing a pint of The Jeremy Bentham's best bitter in this Bentham- 
Free room, I contemplated my meeting with the illustrious corpse earlier 
that afternoon. 

History really was repeating itself, I realized. The simple architecture of 
Bentham's Auto-Icon reflected, so to speak, the digital narcissism of our 


social media world. I recognized too that Bentham's Utilitarian ideals, 
particularly his greatest happiness of the greatest number principle, were 
little different from the ideals of contemporary digital visionaries like Mark 
Zuckerberg whose social network, you'll remember, is developing a Gross 
Happiness Index to quantify global sentiment. It occurred to me, therefore, 
that a critique of Bentham might also be the best strategy for critiquing to- 
day's social network revolution. So what was the most effective way, I mused, 
to demolish the principles of utilitarianism that are as corrosive today as 
they were in the nineteenth century? 

And how, I wondered, taking a gulp of beer and glancing around the room 
to make sure there were no wax heads hanging on any of its walls, could I exor- 
cise the corpse of Jeremy Bentham from my mind? 

On Digital Liberty 

The solution came to me halfway through my second pint of bitter. As with 
any doctrinal system, I realized, the most effective critiques come from 
those who were once apostles of the creed. My mind settled on a man who 
had been born not far from The Jeremy Bentham — on Rodney Terrace in 
Pentonville,^ no more than a mile or two east of Bloomsbury. That man was 
John Stuart Mill, the most influential British social and political thinker of 
the nineteenth century. 

You'll remember that it was Mill, once "the apostle of the Benthamites,"^ 
who, having experienced "a crisis" in his "mental history,""^ turned against 
his legal guardian and accused him of being a "boy to the last." Mill rejected 
Bentham's interpretation of human beings as simply calculating machines. 
Instead, Mill saw our identities as being much more complex and unique, 
along the lines of the noble characters in The King's Speech, defined as much 
by our love and generosity of spirit, by our poetry and by our originality and 
independence of thought, as by the maximization of our pleasures and the 
minimalization of our pain. 


Having been born in 1806 and died in 1873, Mill's life paralleled Brit- 
ain's industrial revolution, the technological upheaval that replaced the tra- 
ditional society of village life with the connected architecture of urban, 
mass society. Like today, it was a revolutionary world defined by the technol- 
ogy of connectivity — an "age of smoke and steam" in the words of the eco- 
nomic historian Eric Hobsbawn. Between 1821 and 1848 in the UK, for 
example, railway companies laid 5,000 miles of track, while John Loudon 
"tarmac" McAdam's innovative technology for road building, developed in 
1823, had given Britain the best road system seen in the world since the 
Roman Empire. "This new world would need new thinkers," Mill's biogra- 
pher, Richard Reeves explains, "and Mill was determined to be one of the 
foremost among them."^ 

There were two reasons why Mill became Britain's foremost thinker 
about this new connected world. The first was his realism. He recognized 
that, for better or worse, the industrial revolution was inevitable and thus 
regarded cultural conservatives such as the Pre-Raphaelites, who romanti- 
cized the preindustrial past, as "chaining themselves to the inanimate corpses 
of dead political and religious systems."^ Nor, however, did he fall into the 
Marxist trap and glorify this new technology of connectivity, imagining 
that it would eventually enable an everlasting unity of man. So while he was 
concerned throughout his life with the suffering of the new industrial work- 
ing class and recognized that government had an important role to play in 
society, Mill never was seduced by the utopianism that coerced many of his 
progressive contemporaries. 

However, what most distinguishes Mill's thought and makes him Brit- 
ain's most important nineteenth-century social and political thinker, lies in 
his understanding of how this new connected world impacted the auton- 
omy of the individual. Utilitarians like Bentham were preoccupied with the 
rights of all individuals,^ but Mill recognized that the new architecture of 
connected roads, railways and newspapers was creating a mass society that 


endangered the most valuable thing of all in any society — the ability of indi- 
viduals to think and act for themselves, independently of public opinion. 
Mill laid out this critique of mass society in his 1859 classic On Liberty. 
What Mill most feared in this connected industrial world was "the creative 
mediocrity" of popular tastes, habits and opinions. "Men are not sheep,"^ he 
wrote, arguing that modern government has a responsibility to protect not 
so much man from himself, but individuals from the tyranny of public opin- 
ion. We should be able to do what we like, he thus famously insisted, as long 
as our actions didn't harm anyone else. If Bentham's creed was "the greatest 
happiness of the greatest numbers," Mill's faith lay in individuals avoiding 
being corrupted by the conformity of the newly networked masses and re- 
maining true to themselves. To Mill, therefore, individual autonomy, pri- 
vacy and self-development were all essential both to human progress and to 
the development of a good life. 

As I sat upstairs in The Jeremy Bentham nursing my beer and thinking 
about John Stuart Mill, what struck me is how acutely relevant On Liberty is 
today, in an age also being revolutionized by a pervasive connective technol- 
ogy. This is a world, according to Mark Zuckerberg, in which education, 
commerce, health and finance are all becoming social.^ It's a connected world 
defined by billions of "smart" devices, by real-time lynch mobs, by tens of 
thousands of people broadcasting details of a stranger's sex life, by the bu- 
reaucratization of friendship, by the group-think of small brothers, by the 
elimination of loneliness, and by the transformation of life itself into a vol- 
untary Truman Show. 

Most of all, it's a world in which many of us have forgotten what it means 
to be human. "But here I fear I am becoming nostalgic," writes the novelist 
Zadie Smith, who along with Jonathan Franzen and Gary Shteyngart is 
amongst the most articulate contemporary critics of social media. "I am 
dreaming of a Web that caters to a person who no longer exists. A private 
person, a person who is a mystery, to the world and — which is more 


important — to herself. Person as mystery: This idea of personhood is cer- 
tainly changing, perhaps has already changed."^^ 

What Smith, as well as Franzen, Shteyngart and all the other critics of 
our increasingly transparent and social age are mourning is this loss of the 
private person, the disappearance of secrecy and mystery, the primacy of 
like over love, the victory of Bentham's utilitarianism over Mill's individual 
liberty and, most of all, the collective amnesia about what it really means to 
be human. It's a super-sad true love story in which we are forgetting who 
we really are. 

As I thought about Zadie Smith's notion of what it means to be human, 
I felt a tingling in my groin. No, I wasn't giddy on the best Jeremy Bentham 
bitter. It was my BlackBerry Bold vibrating insistently in my pocket. My 
hour in London was up, the smartphone — which also acted as my watch, my 
alarm clock and my diary — was telling me. I needed to go to the airport. 
Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum awaited me. 

Social Pictures 

Mark Zuckerberg once had a problem with pictures. As an undergraduate at 
Harvard, he enrolled in an Art History class. But he had no time to study or 
attend any of the lectures because he was building The Facebook (as it was 
then known). So a week before the final exam, he started to panic. Zucker- 
berg knew nothing about either the paintings or the artists in the course. So, 
inevitably, he came up with a social solution to his dilemma. 

"Zuckerberg did what comes naturally to a native of the web. He went to 
the internet and downloaded images of all the pieces of art he knew would 
be covered in the exam," explains Jeff Jarvis, who got the story firsthand 
from the then twenty-two-year-old Zuckerberg when they met at the 2007 
World Economic Forum in Davos. "He put them on a Web page and added 
blank boxes under each. Then he emailed the address of this page to his 
classmates, telling them he'd just put up a study guide The class dutifully 


came along and filled in the blanks with the essential knowledge about each 
piece of art, editing each other as they went, collaborating to get it just 

I've sometimes wondered which artists Zuckerberg was studying for his 
art history course. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, perhaps, with their 
nostalgia for a world that never existed. Or nineteenth-century landscape 
painters like Albert Bierstadt, with their dramatic western vistas of unlim- 
ited power. Or maybe Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt Van Rijn, the two 
geniuses of seventeenth-century Dutch art who, in their different ways, were 
masters of reminding us who we really are. Perhaps the utilitarian Zucker- 
berg, the accidental billionaire who believes that the social can make us all 
more efficient and happy, downloaded paintings by Vermeer and Rem- 
brandt. Maybe he even had these pictures up on his screen while he was 
hacking the Harvard university databases to launch The Facebook. 

What particularly intrigues me are the blank boxes that Zuckerberg, in 
this social art experiment, put underneath the pictures. These boxes were 
for the "essential knowledge" about these paintings, suggesting that they, like 
programming, have right and wrong answers. I wonder what Zuckerberg 
would have written about Rembrandt's self-portraits, especially his self- 
portrait of himself as an old man, when he represented himself as the Apostle 
Paul. What is the truth, the "essential knowledge," about these pictures, 
that he would have entered into the blank box? You see, the essential knowl- 
edge about any pictures, particularly if they have anything essential about 
them, is that their mystery and secrecy are much more interesting than their 
answers. The truth about these pictures is that their meaning can't be so- 
cially fitted, like a Facebook update, into blank boxes on computer screens. 
The essential knowledge about any great picture — whether they have been 
created by Vermeer or Rembrandt or even by Hitchcock — is that they re- 
mind us who we, as human-beings, really are. 


The Woman in Blue 

Portraits — particularly self-portraits — happened to be on my mind. It was 
the morning after my social media speech in Amsterdam and I found my- 
self in the Rijksmuseum, the museum that housed some of the most illustri- 
ous Dutch pictures from the seventeenth century. My BlackBerry Bold was 
switched off, buried deeply in my pocket. I was thus untethered from my 
Research in Motion gadget, disconnected from my followers, off the global 
network. I had no networked camera, no access to existential tweets, no Face- 
book or Linkedin updates, no facial-recognition technology, no Tweetie ask- 
ing for permission to reveal my location. The great exhibitionism of the early 
twenty-first century had, for a couple of hours, been replaced by a greater ex- 
hibition of seventeenth-century Dutch art. 

Christine Rosen writes about the "painted anthropology" of pictures: 
"For centuries, the rich and the powerful documented their existence and 
their status through painted portraits. A marker of wealth and a bid for im- 
mortality, portraits offer intriguing hints about the daily life of their 
subjects — professions, ambitions, attitudes and most importantly, social 
standing," she notes. ^^ Today, Rosen explains, with reference to social net- 
working Web sites like Facebook, our portraits are "democratic and digital; 
they are crafted from pixels rather than paints."^^ But it hasn't always been 
this way, she reminds us. Once, portraits were universal statements rather 
than forms of narcissism; once they spoke to human beings collectively, 
rather than in the personalized language of today's social media. 

At the Rijksmuseum, I had just finished gazing at two self-portraits by 
Rembrandt: one as a hubristic, red-haired youngster when the artist was no 
older than Mark Zuckerberg; the other as a weary old man distinguished by 
what the historian Simon Schama calls "Rembrandt's Eyes," when the artist, 
whose fortunes by then had dramatically declined, painted himself as a 
wizened Apostle Paul. In spite of their deeply personal nature, both pictures 
are universal statements, "essential knowledge," about the confidence of 


youth and the all-too-human exhaustion of old age. That's why, almost four 
hundred years later, I was standing in the Rijksmuseum gazing with wonder 
at pictures that were, to borrow some words from Christine Rosen, both a 
bid for immortality and a painted anthropology of seventeenth-century 
Dutch individualistic culture. 

And then I saw her. I saw the woman who is anything but her own image. 
I saw a picture of who we really are. 

Painted by Johannes Vermeer between 1663 and 1664, "Woman in Blue 
Reading a Letter" is a picture of a young Dutch woman, probably pregnant, 
raptly reading an unfolded letter that she is holding in both her hands. 
There is a map on the rear wall behind her, an open box in front of her and 
an empty chair in the foreground. These are all universal symbols of loss, 
opportunity and travel — Vermeer's clues, his time line, to making sense of 
the picture. The room is well lit, but we see no window, no source for what 
appears to be natural light. The young woman is so locked, so imprisoned in 
her own world, gripping the letter between her hands, that she is unaware of 
anyone else watching her. 

Watching the "Woman in Blue" is, of course, an act of the purest voyeur- 
ism. I knew nothing and yet everything about her. Her concentration mes- 
merized me. The letter, I saw, could be full of news about a death or a birth, 
it could be from an old friend, a sick parent or a new love. But the longer I 
stared at her, the more secretive, the more private the picture became and 
the more relevant, the more pressing, the more eternal and the more myste- 
rious the letter in her hands appeared. 

There is a scene in Hitchcock's Vertigo when Scottie Ferguson first sees 
Madeleine Elster. They are in Ernie's, the plush old steakhouse in San Fran- 
cisco's North Beach. Scottie is sitting at the bar drinking a martini and Mad- 
eleine is eating dinner. He notices her through a doorway as she walks toward 
him. She is dressed in a green shawl and a low-cut black dress. The violins in 
Bernard Herrmann's score crescendo. Scottie, the poor fool, is immediately 


hooked. And so are viewers like myself. I've even captured this image of 
Madeleine on my Twitter (@ajkeen) page.^'* It is now the wallpaper, the back- 
ground to all my tweets. 

It was a little like this at the Rijksmuseum that November morning when 
I saw Vermeer's "Woman in Blue." I sat in front of the picture in the same 
frozen pose that Madeleine sat in front of the painting of her nineteenth- 
century relative in the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts. Unlike Madeleine, 
however, my infatuation with the picture was neither an act nor a ploy to 
mislead my audience. I really was staring into it raptly, with all my concen- 
tration focused on its unresolvable mysteries. The picture had become the 
architecture of all my intimacies. It had even exorcised the corpse of Jeremy 
Bentham from my mind. 

It would be easy, of course, to make a conservative, comfortably nostal- 
gic argument about how twenty-first-century technology, Christine Rosen's 
digital pixels, disables us from the production of such pictures today. "Yes, I 
should have liked to have lived there then, color, excitement, power, freedom," 
as that villainous Gavin Elster said, so disingenuously about the supposed 
idyll of mid-nineteenth-century San Francisco. But, as John Stuart Mill, 
who never enrolled in the "Jeremiah School"^^ reminds us, it is stupid to 
chain ourselves to dead political or social systems in order to denigrate the 
present. Besides as I've already argued, such a technocentric analysis is the 
Macguffin in this book. The truth is that Johannes Vermeer, who was as 
much a technophile as any twenty-first-century geek, focused on using all the 
most sophisticated technologies of his age to make his pictures more realis- 
tic. Indeed, as Philip Steadman argues in Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the 
Truth Behind the Masterpieces, Vermeer's knowledge of seventeenth-century 
optical science enabled him to build a "camera obscura," a primitive version of 
the modern camera, which enabled him to capture the subjects of his pic- 
tures with more photographic accuracy. ^^ 

To borrow some words from Mark Zuckerberg, what "essential knowledge" 


does "Woman in Blue" teach us? What is the truth that we can uncover be- 
hind Vermeer's masterpiece? In Tracy Chevalier's novel Girl with a Pearl 
Earring, her brilliant reconstruction of the story behind another Vermeer 
masterpiece, there is a moment when the story's heroine, a young maid 
called Griet, is told by a local merchant to "take care to remain yourself."^'' 
And this was exactly what "The Woman in Blue" had remained. We know 
nothing about her except that she has taken care to remain herself, an en- 
tirely private being, hyperinvisible, a mystery to the world — the person that 
Zadie Smith fears we have lost. She may or may not be John Stuart Mill's 
"unique individual," but she does represent the condition for Mill's defini- 
tion of the good life, somebody left to their own devices, autonomous, not a 
little lonely above all, private. Her authenticity lies in her mystery, not her 
nakedness. "Woman in Blue" is an image of herself without knowing it — 
the opposite of Jeremy Bentham's stuffed corpse gazing with such unreflexive 
self-satisfaction out of his Auto-Icon, the reverse of mad Josh Harris living 
in the fully public Quiet hotel or the shiny-faced Robert Scoble hypervisibly 
sitting in front of his flickering computer monitor watching his followers 
watching him. 

I continued to sit for a while, mesmerized, staring at "Woman in Blue." I 
realized that this timeless picture is indeed what we are risking losing. In the 
great exhibitionism of our hypervisible Web 3.0 world, when we are always 
on public display, forever revealing ourselves to the camera, we are losing the 
ability to remain ourselves. 

We are forgetting who we really are. 

Remaining Ourselves 

After a while, I got up to leave. I wandered through a couple of small rooms 
and found myself standing in front of perhaps the most famous picture in 
the world, Rembrandt van Rijn's 1642 painting "The Night Watch," his por- 


trait of a group of Dutch burghers. First I looked at the almost 400-year-old 
huge painting that covered an entire wall of the museum and then at its de- 
scription on an adjacent wall: 

Rembrandt's best known and largest canvas was made for the 
club building of one of Amsterdam 's militia companies — the ar- 
quebusiers. Every burgher was required to serve in the guard but 
those included in a group portrait had to pay for the privilege, it 
is the company's wealthiest members who are shown here. Rem- 
brandt was the Brst to portray subjects in a portrait in motion. 

I blinked and read the final sentence on the wall again. "Rembrandt was 
the first to portray subjects in a portrait in motion." The v^iy first\ In the 
full span of human history, of course, 400 years isn't a long time. But the 
almost 400 years that have elapsed between Rembrandt's "NightWatch" 
now — shaped first by the industrial and now the digital revolutions — seem 
like an eternity. In our transparent age of global communications, when we 
are self- authoring mankind's collective portrait every minute of the day, 
where, for example, during the Osama Bin Laden assassination on May 1, 
2011, there were 3,440 tweets about Bin Laden 2X!ix}cvoT^di per second}^ — it is 
difficult to imagine a time when group portraits in motion didn't exist. 

I tried to cast my mind forward not 400 years, but just forty — to the 
middle of the twenty-first century. How much quicker and more social, I 
wondered, could our group portrait in motion become? At Oxford, in an 
interview for a BBC show that I was making about the future of technology, 
I had asked Biz Stone if our communications would ever become faster than 
real-time. He had laughed, in his geeky cheeky way, at the absurdity of it. 
But in forty years' time, I wondered, when @quixotic's Web 3.0 world seems 
as archaic as Rembrandt's "The Night Watch" or Vermeer's "Woman in Blue 


Reading a Letter," would we remain ourselves? Would we take on the identity 
of the walls of Benjamin Woodward's Oxford Union, which had lost every- 
thing that had been painted upon them? Could we really forget who we are? 
I began this book with a lively corpse from the past, so let me end with a 
haunting corpse from the future. As an Oxford undergraduate, you'll re- 
member, old Jeremy Bentham was scared of ghosts. Indeed, the inventor of 
the Inspection-House was so terrified of goblins throughout his life that he 
was scared to sleep alone at night and required his assistants to share his 
bedroom. ^^ Unlike Bentham, I'm scared of neither ghosts nor goblins. But I 
have to confess that I am scared of the ghost of mankind, a ghost that would 
have forgotten what it is to be human. This ghost would be living hypervisi- 
bly with incalculable followers, associates and friends on every social net- 
work, past and future. The existence of this ghost, I confess, would make 
me scared to sleep alone at night too and would require my assistant to sleep 
closely beside me. 

It was, I think, Alfred Hitchcock who once said that behind every good 
picture lay a great corpse. But mankind isn't a picture and there is nothing 
good about a species that has turned into a corpse because it has forgotten 
what it once was. John Stuart Mill, Bentham's greatest nineteenth-century 
critic, was right to argue that remaining human required us to sometimes 
disconnect from society, to remain private, autonomous and secretive. The 
alternative. Mill recognized, was the "tyranny of the majority" and the 
death of individual liberty. This isn't an unrealistic fear. As Michael Fou- 
cault, Bentham's most creative twentieth-century critic, warns "man is neither 
the oldest nor the most constant problem that has been posed for human 
knowledge" and thus he could easily be "erased, like a face drawn in at the 
edge of the sea. ^^ 

Today, more than 150 years afi:er Mill published On Liberty, as a new, 
more virulent revolution of connectivity rages all around us and we are all 


dizzily broadcasting ourselves from our connected crystal palaces, we need 
to go back to the anti-Bentham, John Stuart Mill, for guidance. Men aren't 
sheep, Mill says. Nor are they armies of ants or herds of elephants. No, just 
as @quixotic is wrong to believe that we are primarily social beings and Biz 
Stone mistaken that the future must be social, so is Sean Parker wrong that 
today's creepy is inevitably tomorrow's necessity. Instead, as John Stuart 
Mill reminds us, our uniqueness as a species lies in our ability to stand apart 
from the crowd, to disentangle ourselves from society, to be let alone and to 
be able to think and act for ourselves. 

The future, therefore, should be anything but social. That's what we need 
to remember as human beings at the dawn of the twenty-first century when, 
for better or worse, @quixotic's Web 3.0 world of pervasive personal data, 
this Internet of people, is becoming like home for all of us. And that's ex- 
actly the "essential knowledge" that I'd like you to take away from this pic- 
ture of digital vertigo in our age of great exhibitionism. 



1. W. G. Sebald, Vertigo ("New Directions, 2000) 94-95. 


1. Alexia Tsotsis, October 30, 2010. 

2. For a full history of Bentham's corpse, see the James E. Crimmin's introduction to Jeremy 
Bentham's Auto-Icon and Related Writings (Bristol, 2002) ( 

3. C.F.A. Marmoy, "The Auto-Icon of Jeremy Bentham at University College," History 
of Medicine at UCL Journal, April 1958 ( 

4. Aldous Huxley, Prisons (Trianon & Grey Falcon Presses, 1949). See: http://www.john- 

5. Bentham, John Dinwiddy, (Oxford, 1989), 18. 

6. Manufactured by the appropriately named Research in Motion (RIM), Canada's largest 
technology company, globally headquartered in Waterlooville, Ontario. My model was 
the BlackBerry Bold. 

7. A Canon Digital Rebel XSi 12.2 MP Digital SLR Camera with an EF-S 55-250mm f/4- 
5.6 IS zoom lens. 

8. "Infographic: A Look at the Size and Shape of the Geosocial Universe in 2011," by Rip 
Empson, Techcrunch, May 20, 2011 ( 

9. See: "An Internet of People," by Chris Dixon,, December 19, 2011 (http:// Dixon quotes the Sequoia venture capi- 
talist Roelof Botha, who describes this internet of people as a "trust" and "reputation" 

10. "The Daily Dot Wants to be the Web's Hometown Paper," by Matthew Ingram, Gigaom, 


April 1, 2011 ( 

11. For forty years of his adult life, Bentham lived in a Westminster house overlooking St. 
James Park that he called Queen's Square Place. Perhaps not uncoincidentally, given Ben- 
tham's keen interest in penal reform, this Westminster site, known today as 102 Petty 
France, is occupied by the British Ministry of Justice. 

12. Bentham's "greatest happiness principle" was laid out in his 1831 pamphlet Parliamentary 
Candidate's Proposed Declaration of Principles in which he argued that the goal of govern- 
ment is to maximize the pleasure or happiness of the greatest number. (See: Bentham, 
John Dinwiddy, Oxford, Chapter 2, "The Greatest Happiness Principle.") 

13. Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class, (Basic, 2002), 74, John Hagel, John Seely 
Brown, The Power of Pull (Basic 2010), 90. 

14. "The Metropolis and Mental Life," by Georg Simmel, from The Sociology ofGeorgSimmel, 
ed. Kurt H. WolfF(Free Press, 1950), 409. 

15. Jonathan Raban, Soft City, (15). Raban is also the author oi Surveillance (Pantheon 2006), 
an excellent novel about the growing ubiquity of electronic surveillance in our digital age. 

16. "The Ministry of Truth — Minitrue, in Newspeak — was startingly different from any 
other object in sight," Orwell described the Ministry of Truth in Nineteen Eighty four. "It 
was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace af- 
ter terrace three hundred m.etres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just pos- 
sible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the 

17. Richard Cree, "Well Connected," Director magazine, July 2009. 

18. See "Boom! Professional Social Network Linkedin Passes 100 Million Members," by 
Leena Rao, Techcrunch, March 22, 2011 ( 

19. Laptop Magazine, February 201 1, 71. 

20. "Linkedin Founder: "Web 3.0 Will Be About Data," by Ben Parr, Mashable, March 30, 
2011. For a video of Hoffman's interview with Liz Cannes at the Web 20. Expo, see: 

21. The other four are Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen, legendary seed investor Ron 
Conway and Peter Thiel, Hoffman's colleague at Paypal and the founding angel investor 
in Facebook. See: "The 25 Tech Angels, 1 1 Good Angels and 18 Geeks Everyone Wants to 
Fly With," see San Francisco Magazine, December 2010. ( 

22. "The Midas List: Technology's Top 100 Investors," Forbes, April 6, 2011. (http://www 

23. "Reid Hoffman," Soapbox, The Wall Street Journal, ]\int 23, 2011. (http://online.wsj 

24. "The King of Connections Is Tech's Go-To-Guy," by Evelyn M. Rush, The New York 
Times, November 5, 2011 ( 

25. For my own "Keen On" Techcrunch. tv interview with Reid Hoffman in August 2010, see: 


26. "Fail Fast Advises Linkedin Founder and Tech Investor Reid Hoffman," BBC, January 
11, 2001 ( 

27. "Linkedin Surpasses MySpace to Become No. 2 Social Network," by Leena Rao, Tech- 
crunch, July 8, 2011 ('/2011/07/08/linkedin-surpasses-myspace 

28. The Linkedin IPO took place on May 18, 201 1. Beginning the day priced at $40, shares 
tripled in value at one point and finally ended the day at $94, valuing the company at al- 
most $9 billion and giving Hoffman a more than two billion dollar stake in his start-up. 
See: "Linkedin's Top Backers Own $6.7 Billion Stake," by Ari Levy, Bloomberg News, 
May 18, 2011. ( 
-backers-wiIl-own-2-5-billion-stake-after-ipo.html). See, also: "Small Group Rode Linke- 
din to a Big Payday," by Nelson D. Schwartz, The New York Times, June 19,2011. (http://, for an analysis of the 
IPO and how "for Reid Hoffman, the chairman of Linkedin, it took less than 30 minutes 
to earn himself an extra $200 million." 

29. In conversation with Liz Cannes of All Things D, December 29, 2010. (http://network 

30. Zygna — which includes the massively popular social game Farmville in its digital stable — 
has become so big so quickly that its value is about equal to that of Electronic Cames (EA), 
the world's second-largest game publisher. According to research published by SharesPost 
in October 2010, the privately held Zygna was worth $5.1 billion while the publicly 
traded EA was worth $5.16 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. For more, see Bloomberg 
Businessweek of 10/26/2010: 

31. Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis, "The Right to Privacy," Harvard Law Review, Vol. 
IV, December 15, 1890, No. 5. This article has been described as "legendary" and "the most 
influential law review article of all" and is considered by many privacy scholars to be the 
foundation of privacy law in the United States. For more, see: Daniel J. Solove, Under- 
standing Privacy (Harvard University Press, 2008), 13-18. 

32. "One time prison becoming daring escape," is how the Malmaison brands itself for the 
modern traveler bored with traditional luxury hotels. To follow the Malmaison on Twit- 
ter, go to: http://twitter.eom/#I/TheOxfordMal. 

33. Aristotle's argument from The Politics that "man is by nature a social animal: an individ- 
ual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more 
than human. Society is something that precedes the individual . . ." is the opening salvo of 
a two-thousand-year-old communitarian argument that places the importance of the so- 
cial above the individual. Aristotle's position that "anyone who either cannot lead the 
common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of 
society, is either a beast or a god" was entertainingly countered by Friedrich Nietzsche's 
maxim from Twilight of the Idols that "in order to live alone, one must be an animal or a 
Cod — says Aristotle. The third case is missing: one must be both — a philosopher . . ." 

34. Sacca runs a billion-dollar social media investment fund. As of late February 2010, his 
Lowercase Capital billion dollar fund (that includes JP Morgan as a major investor) was 


the largest institutional owner of Twitter stock with a roughly 9 percent stake in the real- 
time social network. See: "New Fund Provides Stake in Twitter for JP Morgan," Evelyn 
Rush, The New York Times Deal Book, February 28, 2011 ( 

35. See: for an account of 
my conversations with Stone at Oxford as well as a photograph of the tuxedoed Stone and 
FiofFman in the Oxford Union library. 

36. Oxford Union Debate, Sunday, November 23, 2008. 

37. The speed of Twitter's market value is astonishing. In October 2010, the privately held 
company — which still remains effectively revenue-free — had a secondary market valua- 
tion of $1,575 billion. By December 2010, the blue chip Silicon Valley venture firm of 
Kleiner Perkins led a $200 billion investment round in Twitter at a valuation of $3.7 bil- 
lion. Then in February 201 1, The Wall Street Journal announced rumors that Google and 
Facebook were interested in acquiring Twitter for between $8 and $10 billion. And by 
March, 201 1, Twitter's valuation on the secondary market has risen to $7.7 billion. While 
in April 201 1, Fortune magazine reported that Twitter had turned down a $10 billion ac- 
quisition offer from Google. But by July, Twitter had raised another $400 million of ven- 
ture capital investment at a $8 billion valuation. And by August 201 1, the Financial Times 
confirmed Twitter's $8 billion valuation and its investment led by the Russian internet 
investment firm DST. 

38. "New Twitter Stats: 140M Tweets Sent Per Day, 460K Accounts Created Per Day," by 
Leena Rao, Techcrunch, March 14, 2011. ( 

39. Before Twitter, Stone was an executive at a number of technology companies including 
Google. His books include Blogging: Genius Strategies for Instant Web Content (2002) 
Who Let The Blogs Out: A Hyperconnected Peek at the World ofWeblogs (2004). 

40. In June 2011, Stone retired from his full-time position at Twitter as "part evangelist, part 
storyteller, and part futurist" to become a strategic advisor at Spark Capital. See: "Twitter 
Co-Founder Joins Venture Capital Firm, by Claire Cain Miller," The New York Times, 
July 7, 2011 ( 

41. "Twitter Founder to Join Huffington Post," by Dominic Rushe, The London Guardian, 
March 15, 3011 ( 

42. "The Auto-Icon of Jeremy Bentham at University College, London" by C.F.A. Marmoy, 
The History of Medicine at UCL Journal, April 1958. 

43. Bentham become John Stuart Mill's legal guardian six years after John's birth when James 
Mill fell seriously ill. See: Richard Reeves, John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand (Atlan- 
tic, 2007), 11. 

44. "Bentham" by John Stuart Mill, in John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham: Utilitarianism 
and Other Essays (Penguin, 1987), 149. 

45. Mill popularized the term "Utilitarian" in the winter of 1822-23 when he set up the 
"Utilitarian Society" (see: J. S. Mill, Autobiography, 49) The word itself, however, unbe- 
known to Mill, had first been used by Bentham in some eighteenth-century correspon- 


dence with the French pohtical theorist Pierre Etienne Louis Dumont (see: Richard Reeves, 
John Stuart Mill), ^7. 

46. "Bentham,"byJ.S. Mill, 149. 

47. Umberto Eco, Travels in Hyperreality (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich: 1983), 6-7. 

48. Pierre Boileau and TTiomas Narcejac, The Living and the Dead (Washburn, 1957). 

49. "Tracking is an Assault on Liberty," by Nicholas Carr, The Wall Street Journal, August 7, 

50. "Soapbox: Reid Hoffman," The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2011 (http://online.wsj 

51. "Fail fast" advises Linkedin founder and tech investor Reid Hoff^man," BBC Business 
News, January 11, 2011 ( 

52. At the March 2011 South by Southwest conference, Hoff^man laid out his definition of 
Web 3.0. If Web 1.0 meant "go search, get data", and Web 2.0 meant "real identities" and 
"real relationships," Hoff^man said, then Web 3.0 involves "real identities generating mas- 
sive amounts of data." See: "Linkedln's Reid Hoff^man explains the brave new world of 
data,"byAnthonyHa,March 15, 201 LVentureBeat. ( 

53. Estimate by Cisco ( See also the remarks of 
Ericsson CEO and President Hans Vestberg at the Monaco Media Forum in November 
2010 ( But even in the very 
short term, it is inevitable that the number of connected people and devices will rise 
dramatically. At the Feburary 2011 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, for example, 
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop promised to "connect the unconnected" and bring three mil- 
lion people around the world online via their cellphones. See: "Nokia Wants to Bring 3 
Billion More Online," by Jenna Wortham, 7??^' New York Times, February 18, 2011 


1. Jeremy Bentham, The Panopticon Writings, ed. Miran Bozovic (Verso), 31. 

2. John Dinwiddy, Bentham, 38 (Oxford. 1989). 

3. The Inspection-House plan had originally intended to be implemented by the govern- 
ment. In 1813, to compensate Bentham for its nonimplementation, he was awarded 
£23,000 by Parliament which enabled him to rent a "magnificent house" in the west 
country where he spent his summers and autumns (see: John Dinwiddy, Bentham, 

4. Aldous Huxley, Prisons (Trianon & Grey Falcon Presses, 1949). See: http://www.john 

5. Jeremy Bentham, Panopticon Letters, 1787, unpublished manuscript. University College 
London Library. 

6. Bentham, together with his brother Samuel, were helping Prince Grigory Potemkin, 
Catherine the Great's lover and the most powerful landowner in Tsarist Russia, to design 
an English village with modern industrial factories in the eastern Belorussian town of 
Krichev. Potemkin, of course, is best remembered now for his "Potemkin Villages" — 


artificial communities purely created to impress Catherine the Great. For more, see: "The 
Bentham Brother, their Adventure in Russia," Simon Sebag Montefiore {History Today, 
August 2003). 

7. Michel Foucault, Discipline & Punish — The Birth of the Prison (Vintage, 1979), 200. 

8. Letter 1, "Idea of the Inspection Principle, The Panopticon Writings," Jeremy Bentham, 
ed Miran Bozovic (Versa, 1995). 

9. Norman Johnson, Forms of Constraint: A History of Prison Architecture, 56. 

10. "The Metropolis and Mental Life," Georg Simmel, The Sociology ofGeorgSimmel, ed Kurt 
H. WolfF(Free Press, 1950), 409. 

11. Michel Yoxxczuh, Discipline and Punishment: The Birth of the Prison (Vintage, 1979), 200. 

12. In 2010, smart televisions only made up 2% of global household penetration, according to 
research conducted in August 2010 by the market research firm iSuppli. But by 2014, 
iSuppli projects, this global household penetration will have risen to 33% (http://www.ft: 

13. Such as Microsoft: 's Kinect console, a product that connects motion-controlled gaming 
with video-conferencing and voice interactivity. 

14. At Las Vegas's Consumer Electronics Show in January 2011, for example, there were 380 
in-vehicle electronics exhibitors showing such networked technology as high-speed In- 
ternet access for cars. See: "At CES, Cars Take Center Stage," The New York Times, Janu- 
ary 6, 2011. ( 

15. Jeremy Bentham's vision of the Panopticon was sketched out in a series of letters he wrote 
in 1789 from Crecheff in the Crimea to an unnamed friend in England. See The Panopti- 
con Writings, Edited & Introduced by Miran Bozovic (Verso 1995). Bentham had gone to 
Russia in 1785 with his brother Samuel to help Prince Potemkin, Catherine the Great's 
lover and the most powerful landowner in Russia, design an English industrial village. 
See: "Prince Potemkin and the Benthams," by Simon Sebag Montefiore, History Today, 
August 2003. 

16. Clay Shirky, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age (Penguin 
2010), 54. 

17. From Clinton's "Remarks on Internet Freedom" speech in Washington D.C., on January 
21, 2010. This term has also been used by Microsoft: social media guru Marc Davis in his 
keynote speech at the Privacy Identity Innovation (PII) conference in Seattle on August 
18, 2010 ( 

18. Cognitive Surplus, 196-197. 

19. "Julian Assange Tells Students That the Web Is the Greatest Spying Machine Ever," 
Patrick Kingsley, The London Guardian, March 15,2011 ( 
media/201 l/mar/15/web-spying-machine-julian-assange). 

20. "Wikileaks Founder: Facebook Is the Most Appalling Spy Machine That Has Ever Been 
Invented," Matt Brian, The Next Web, May 2, 2012 ( 

21. A November 201 1 Pew Internet and American Life research study reported that already 
4% of online Americans are using these location-based services (http://www.pewinternet 


.org/Reports/2010/Location-based-services.aspx), suggesting — as Jay Yarow at Business 
Insider argued ( 1) — 
that services like Gowalla are growing at the same viral rate as Twitter in its earliest stage 
of development. 

22. Shirley's comments about the increased "legibility" of society were expressed — to excuse 
the pun — most transparently when he was interviewed by the BBC's Diplomatic Corre- 
spondent Bridget Kendall on the BBC World Service radio show, "The Forum," on Sep- 
tember 19, 2010 ( 

23. Katie Roiphe, "The Language of Fakebook," The New York Times, August 13, 2010. 

24. On, see: "YouCeleb Lets You Look Like a Star For Cheap," by Rip Emp- 
son, Techcrunch, February 28, 2011 ( 

25. The Forum. September 19. 2010. 

26. Jean Twenger and W. Keith Campbell, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of En- 
titlement (Free Press, 2009). 

27. Elias Aboujaoude, Virtually You (Norton 201 1), 72. 

28. "The Elusive Big Idea," Neal Gabler, The New York Times, August 13. 201 1. 

29. "The Insidious Evils of 'Like' Culture," Neil Strauss. The Wall Street Journal, July 2,2011. 

30. "Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts." Jonathan Franzen, The New York Times, 
May 29. 2011 ( 

31. "Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts." Jonathan Franzen. The New York Times, 
May 29, 2011 ( 

32. "Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism," Christine Rosen, The New Atlantis: A Jour- 
nal of Technology and Society, Number 17, Summer 2007. 

33. "The Online Looking Glass," Ross Douthat, The New York Times, June 12. 2011. 

34. "The Saga of Sister Kiki." David Brooks. The New York Times, ]une 23. 201 1 (http://www 

35. "A Billionaire's Breakup Becomes China's Social-Media Event of the Year." Loretta Choa 
and Josh Chin. The Wall Street Journal, ]\inc 17,2011 ( 

36. "In Praise of Oversharing," Steven Johnson, Time magazine. May 20, 2010. 

37. Jeff Jarvis, "What If There Are No Secrets,", 07/26/10. 

38. Given in Berlin. See:£y-publicness 

39. Jarvis announced his prostrate cancer in a post entitled "The Small c and Me" on his 
BuzzMachineblog on August 10. 2009 ( 

40. See the March 2011 issue of the UK Wired magazine in which Jeff Jarvis, Steven John- 
son, and I each lay out our positions about privacy on the web ( 
magazine/archive/2011/03/features/sharing-is-a-trap). See my debate with Jarvis on 
the BBC Today show on February 5, 2011. ( 
sid_9388000/9388379.stm?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter). See also 


my August 2010 "Keen On" show interview with Jarvis: http://tech- 

41. JefF Jarvis, Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and 
Live (Simon and Schuster, 2012). 

42. "Pubhc Parts," by Jeff Jarvis, May 20, 2010 ( 

43. The ideal of "publicness granting immortality" was one of Jarvis's ten theses of publicness 
which he introduced in a speech at the Seattle Public/Privacy conference in August 2010. 
The other nine theses were that publicness 1) Makes and improves relationships; 2) Enables 
collaboration; 3) Builds trust; 4) Frees us from the myth of perfection; 5) Kills taboos; 6) 
Enables wisdom of our crowd; 7) Organizes us; 8) Protects us; 9) Creates value. See also, 
Public Parts, 56-58, in which he argues the Arendtian position that "only by being public 
can we leave our mark on the world." 

44. David Kirkpatrick, The Facebook Effect (Simon & Schuster 2010), 67. 

45. Jarvis, Public Parts, II- 

46. Doerr, who has a net worth estimated by Forbes to be over a billion dollars, was an early 
investor in many of the greatest Silicon Valley companies including Sun Microsystems, 
Netscape, Amazon, and Google. 

47. See: "John Doerr on 'The Great Third Wave' of Technology," The Wall Street Journal, May 
24, 2010. 

48. "Kleiner Plays Catch-Up," Pui-Wing Tam and Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Wall Street Jour- 
nal, August 29, 2011 ( 

49. "Kleiner Perkins Invests In Facebook at $52 Billion," The Wall Street Journal, February 
14, 201 1. "Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Facebook are together at last," the piece 
begins — but what is striking is how little $38 million will buy you in today's exuberant 
social media economy ( l/02/l4/kleiner-perkins 

50. By February 25, 201 1, just eleven days after the Kleiner investment was announced, this 
$52 billion valuation had ballooned to $70 billion on, a Web site 
where secondary stock of private companies is bought and sold by investors. (See: "Face- 
book Valuation Back at a Cool $70 Billion on SecondMarket, by MG Siegler, February25, 
2011, Facebook 's expected 
IPO in 2012 should put an end to these sorts of wild disparities and changes in the value 
of the company. 

51. See Bing Gordon's interview with in October 2010 ( 
whats-hot/watch?id=ZpYXZyMTqZYQbxJZVMzVi8— IMqliDi3) when he argues that 
the social category will grow 10 to 25 times over the next five years. 

52. The Social Network is loosely adapted from Ben Mezrich's best-selling book. The Acciden- 
tal Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal {Dou- 
bleday, 2009). 

53. "Generation Why" Zadie Smith, The New York Review of Books, November 25, 2010 

54. Zuckerberg used this phrase at the e-G8 ( , the May 2011 
conference in Paris organized by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, which brought to- 


gether many of the world's leading Internet thinkers, entrepreneurs, and managers. I also 
attended this event, participating in a workshop about data privacy. 

55. "Facebook's Grand Plan for the Future," David Gelles, London Financial Times, December 
3, 2010 (http://www.ft.eom/cms/s/2/57933bb8-fcd9-l Idf-ae2d-00l44feab49a.html# 

56. Zuckerberg said this to the Silicon Valley social media evangelist Robert Scoble. For the 
full conversation between Zuckerberg, Scoble, and a number of other journalists, see 
Robert Scoble 's blogpost of November 3, 2010, "Great Interview: Candid Disruptive 

57. "Mark Zuckerberg" Lev Grossman, Time magazine, December 15, 2010. 

58. "A Trillion Pageviews for Facebook,", August 23, 2011 (http://www.labnol 

59. "Facebook Now as Big as the Entire Internet Was in 2004," Pingdom, October 5, 2011 

60. "CIA's Facebook Proram Dramatically Cut Agency's Costs," The Onion, March 21, 201 1 

61. "CIA's 'vengeful librarians' stalk Twitter and Facebook," The Daily Telegraph, November 4, 
2011 ( 

62. See: M. G. Siegler, "Pincus: In Five Years, Connection Will Be to Each Other, Not The 
Web; We'll Be Dial Tones," Techcrunch, October 21, 2010 ( 

63. According to a December 2010 projection by Horace Dedlu of the market intelligence 
service Asymco (see: 

64. "Adult Use of Social Media Soars," by Sarah E. Needleman, The Wall Street Journal, Au- 
gust 30, 2011 ( 

65. Between 2006 and 2009, the Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Cen- 
ter revealed that teenage blogging fell by half See: "Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites 
Like Twitter," by Verne G. Kopytoff, The New York Times, February 20, 201 1. (http://www 

GG. "Adult Use of Social Media Soars," by Sarah E. Needleman, The Wall Street Journal, Au- 
gust 30, 2011 ( 

67. Between 2006 and 2009, The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research 
Center revealed that teenage blogging fell by half See: "Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to 
Sites Like Twitter," by Verne G. Kopytoff, The New York Times, February 20, 2011. 

68. "Is the Era of Webmail Over?" Joe Nguyen,, January 12,2011 (http://blog 

69. Official Facebook numbers, July 2010. 


70. According to the Internet metrics service Hitwise, with 8.93% of all the web traffic in 
America going to Facebook in 2010 ( 

71. "Facebook Achieves Majority" according to an April 2011 report by Edison Research 
and Arbitron Inc. ( 

72. "ShareThis Study: Facebook Accounts For 38 Percent of Sharing Traffic on the Web," Erick 
Schonfeld, Techcrunch, June 6, 2011 ( 

73. Zuckerberg: As Many As 500 Million People Have Been on Facebook In A Single Day," 
by Leena Rao, Techcrunch, September 22, 2011 ( 

74. "Facebook now as big as the entire Internet was in 2004," Pingdom, Royal Pingdom 

75. "Twitter Is At 250 Million Tweets Per Day, iOS5 Integration Made Sign-Ups Increate 
3X," Alexis Tsotsis, Techcrunch, October 17, 2011 ( 
twitter-is-at-250-million-tweets-per-day/). See also: "Meaningful Growth," The Twitter 
Blog December 15, 2010 ( 

76. "Twitter Hits 100 million "Active" Users" Greg Finn,, Septmber 
8, 201 1 ( 

77. "Groupon Shares Rise Sharply After I. P.O.," by Evelyn M. Rusli, The New York Times, 
November 4, 2011 ( 

78. "LivingSocial Said to Weigh Funding at $6 Billion Instead of IPO", by Douglas MacMil- 
lian and Serena Saitto, Bloomberg, September 22, 2011 ( 
news/201 l-09-22/livingsociaI-said-to-weigh-funding-at-6-billion-rather-than-pursuing 
-ipo.html). See also, "LivingSocial 's CEO Weathers Rapid Growth," Stu Woo, The Wall 
Street Journal, August 29, 2011 ( 

79. At the beginning of December 2010, Farmville was top of the Facebook app. leaderboard, 
with nearly 54 million users (see: But by the end of Decem- 
ber, Zynga's virtual reality social game CitiVille, which was only launched at beginning 
of the month, had eclipsed Farmville, racking up 61.7 million users (http://techcrunch 

80. See: "Zynga moves 1 Petabyte of Data Daily; Adds 1,000 Servers a Week," Leena Rao, 
Techcrunch, September 22, 2010. ( 

81. "Zynga Raising $500 Million at $10 Billion Valuation," Kara Swisher, All Things Digital, 
February 17, 2010 ( 

82. "Foursquare Gets 3 Million Check-Ins Per Day, Signed Up 500,000 Merchants," Pascal- 
Emmanuel Gobry, SAI Business Insider, August 2, 2011 (http://articles.businessinsider 
.com/201 l-08-02/tech/30097137_l_foursquare-users-merchants-ins). 

83. "Foursquare's Dennis Crowley talks of check-ins," by Casey Newton,, De- 


cember 25, 2011 ( 
-ins-location-based-service-social-service). For foursquare's business value, see my Decem- 
ber 2011 TechcrunchTV interview with the author of The Power of foursquare (2011), 
Carmine Gallo ( 

84. "Tumblr Is Growing by a Quarter Billion Impression Every Week," Erick Schonfeld, 
Techcrunch, January 28, 2011 ( 

85. "Tumblr Lands $85 Million in Funding," JennaWortham, The New York Times, Septem- 
ber 26, 2011 ( 

86. See my TechcrunchTV interview with Cheever on May 27, 201 1: 

87. Q&A Site Quota Builds Buzz with A-List Answerers," by Lydia Dishman, Fast Com- 
pany, January 4, 2011 ( 

88. "Quora Investor Scoffs at $1 Billion Offer Price," Nicholas Carson, Business Insider, Feb- 
ruary 22, 2011 ( 

89. "Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class," World Economic Forum Report, 
January 201 1 ( 

90. Brin said this on the January 20th 2011 earning call with analysts where Eric Schmidt 
announced his resignation as the company's CEO. See: "Sergey Brin: We've Touched 1 
Percent Of What Social Search Can Be," Leena Rao. 

91. "How to Use Facebook to Get Accepted to College," Dean Tsouvalas, StudentAdvisor 
.com, February 22, 2011 ( 

92. "Are Social Networking Profiles the Resumes of the Future?" Kelsey Blair, SocialTimes 
.com, 25 February 2011 ( 

93. "Social Media History Becomes a New Job Hurdle," Jennifer Preston, The New York 
Times, July 20, 2011 ( 

94. "Updating a Resume for 201 1," The Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Garone, June 3, 201 1 

95. "Linkedin is About to Put Job Boards (and Resumes) Out of Business," Dan Schawbel, 
Forbes, June 1, 2011 ( 
-to-put-job-boards-and-resumes-out-of-business/). Schwabel is also the author oiMe 2.0: 4 
Steps to Building Your Future (101 0). 

96. In a November 2010 interview with Silicon Valley social media evangelist Robert Scoble. 
See: "Great Interview — Candid, Disruptive Mark Zuckerberg",, Novem- 
ber 3, 2010 ( 


97. "Zuckerberg: Kids under 13 Should Be Allowed On Facebook," Mical Lev- Ram, Fortune, 
May 20, 2011. ( 

98. Steven Levy, In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes our Lives (Simon & Schus- 
ter, 2011), 382. 

99. "Prediction: Facebook Will Surpass Google in Advertising Revenue," Hussein Fazal, 
Techcrunch, June 6, 2011 ( 

100. "A Venture-Capital Newbie Shakes Up Silicon Valley," Pui-Wing Tam, Geoffrey A. 
Fowler and Amir Efrati, The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2011. ( 

101. "Sequoia Capital's Mike Moritz Added to Linkedln's Board," David Cohen, Social 
Times, January 18, 2011 ( 

102. "New Fund Provides Stake in Twitter JP Morgan," Evelyn Rusli, The New York Times, 
February 28, 2011. 

103. "With -Hi, Google Search Goes Truly Social - As Do Google Ads," MG Siegler, Tech- 
crunch, March 31, 2011 ( See 
also, "Google Wants Search to Be More Social," Amir Efrati, The Wall Street Journal, 
March 31, 2011. 

104. "Google Launches +1, a New Social Step," by Stephen Shankland, CNET, June 1, 2011 

105. "Doing more with the -hi button, more than 4 billion times a day," Business Insider, Au- 
gust 24, 2011 ( 

106. "Larry Page Just Tied ALL Employees' Bonuses to the Success of Google's Social Strat- 
egy," Nicholas Carlson, SAI Business Insider, April 7, 2011 (http://www.businessinsider 

107. "Keen On: Why Google Is Now a Social Company," TechcrunchTV, July 23, 201 1 (http:// 

108. "Google + Pulls In 20 Million in 3 Weeks," Amir Efrati, The Wall Street Journal, July 22, 
201 1 ( 1 1904233404576460394032418 

109. "Google-I- Added $20 Billion To Google's Market Cap," Erick Schonfeld, Techcrunch, 
July 10, 2011 ( 

110. "Google Plus Users About to Get Google Apps, Share Photos Like Mad," Jerey Scott,, October 20, 2011 ( 

111. "Google-I- Growth Accelerating. Passes 62 million users. Adding 625,000 new users per 
day. Prediction: 400 million users by end of 2012," by Paul Allen, Google +, December 27, 
201 1 (https://plus.googIe.eom/l 17388252776312694644/posts/ZcPA5ztMZaj ). 

112. "Is Too Much Plus a Minus for Google," by Steven Levy,, January 12, 2012 
( 2/01/too-much-plus-a-minus/?utm_source=feed 
-I— l-Epicenter-l-%28Business%29%29). 


113. Microsoft's strategic anti-Google alliance with Facebook is likely to deepen over the next 
five years as the social economy matures. See, for example, "Bing Expands Facebook Liked 
Results,, February 24, 2011 ( 
Once we get beyond the five year horizon, anything is possible including, perhaps, Face- 
book acquiring Microsoft. 

114. "Does Gmail's People Widget Spell Trouble for Email Startups?" Anthony Ha, Social- 
Beat, May 26, 201 1 ( 1/05/26/gmail-people-widget/). 

115. "Sean Parker: Agent of Disruption," Steven Bertoni, Forbes, September 21, 2011 (http:// 

116. Only founded in May 2010, GroupMe was already sending a million texts every day by 
February 2011. See: "GroupMe Is Now Sending One Million Texts Every Day," by Erick 
Schonfeld, Techcrunch, February 14, 2011 ( 
groupme-one-million-texts/). In August 2011, the year-old GroupMe was acquired for an 
undisclosed sum by Skye. See: "Skype To Acquire Year-old Group Messaging System 
GroupMe," Michael Arrington, August 21, 2011 ( 

1 17. "Cliqset Founder Takes On Personal Publishing And Social Conversations With Stealthy 
Startup Glow," Leena Rao, Techcrunch, May 28, 201 1 ( 1/05/ 

118. The Kleiner Perkins backed Path — which turned down a $100 million acquisition offer 
from Google in February 2011 — is a good example of how complete privacy is no longer 
viable on the Internet. Founded in 2010 by former Facebook executive Dave Morin as a 
completely private social network for close friends and family, it switched to a more 
"open" model in January 2011 that enabled users to publically share their information. 
See: "Kleiner Perkins, Index Ventures lead $8.5 Million Round For Path," Michael Ar- 
rington, February 1, 2011 ( 
-5-million-round-for-path/) For Path<#213>s meteoric growth, see: "Nearing 1 Million 
Users, Path Stays The Course," by Rip Empson, Techcrunch, October 20, 2011 (http:// 

1 19. "Companies Are Erecting In-House Social Networks," Verne G. Kopytoff, The New York 
Times, ]unt 26, 2011 ( 

120. See: "Social Power and the Coming Corporate Revolution", by David Kirkpatrick, 
Forbes, September 7, 2011 ( 
-power-and-the-coming-corporate-revolution/). Facebook Effect author Kirkpatrick is 
much more sympathetic to Rypple than me, saying that it "taps social and peer pressure to 
make job evaluation more effective at driving future performance." In my mind, however, 
this is an unacceptable invasion of a worker's privacy and will add to the often already 
unbearable pressures of work in today's dismal economy. 

121. "YouTube's New Homepage Goes Social With Algorithmic Feed, Emphasis On Google-I- 
And Facebook," Eric Eldon, Techcrunch, December 1, 2011 (http://m. techcrunch. com/ 
2011/1 2/01 /newyoutube/ ?icid=tc_home_ar t&) . 

122. For my May 2011 TechcrunchTV "So What Exactly is Social Music?" interviews with 


Alexander Ljung of Soundcloud and Steve Tang of Soundtracking see: http://techcrunch 
.com/201 1/05/31 /disrupt-backstage -pass-so-what-exactly-is-social-music-tctv/. 

123. Reports in February editions of Entertainment Weekly and People indicated that both 
The X Factor and American Idol would reinvent themselves around social engagement and 
voting. See: "Facebook TV Invasion Looms Via American Idol Voting," Andrew Wallen- 
stein,, February 23, 201 1 ( 

124. "Miso Now Knows What You're Watching, No Check-In Required," Ryan Lawler, The 
New York Times, September 1, 2011 ( 

125. "Report: Netflix Swallowing Peak Net Traffic Fast," Erick Mack, CNET, May 17, 2011 

126. "Reed Hastings: We Have a 'Five Year Plan' for Social Features and Facebook Integra- 
tion," Leena Rao, Techcrunch, June 1, 2011 ( 

127. News. me was developed for The New York Times by Betaworks, the New York City based 
social media developer that has incubated a number of important startups including the 
URL shortener and the Twitter app Tweetdeck. For my own "Keen On" Tech- 
crunch interview with Betaworks CEO, John Borthwick see: 

128. "Flipboard Raises $50 Million, Inks Deal With Oprah's OWN," Mark Heflllinger, Digi- 
talMediaWire, April 15, 2011 ( 

129. "First Look at ImageSocial, the Photo Sharing Start-Up That Just Raiseed $15 Million in 
Funding," Sarah Perez, Techcrunch, October 11, 201 1 ( 1/10/ 

130. "With $41 million in hand, Color Launches Implicit Proximity-Based Social Network," 
Liz Cannes, All Things D, March 23, 201 1 (http://networkefl^ 10323/ 
with-4lm-in-hand-color-deploys-new-proximity-based-social-network/). See also: "Money 
Rushes Into Social Start-Ups," Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Wall Street Journal, March 23, 
2011. According to Fowler, Color's "view on privacy is that everything in the service is 
public — allowing users who don't yet know each other to peer into each other's lives." 

131. "MeMap App Lets You Track Facebook Friends on One Central Map," Riley McDermid, 
VentureBeat, March 24, 2011 ( 

132. "Focusingon the Social, Minus the Media," JennaWortham, The New York Times, June 4, 
2011 ( l/06/05/technology/05ping.html?_r=l&hpw). 

133. "Finding a seatmate through Facebook," CNN, December 10, 2011 (http://articles.cnn 
.com/201 l-12-l4/travel/travel_social-media-seating_l_facebook-pals-seat-selection 

134. In October 201 1, the Waz raised $30 million in funding from Kleiner and from the Chinese 


telecom billionaire and Facebook investor Li Ka-hing. See: "Social Navigation and Traffic 
App Waze Raises $30 Million From Kleiner and Li Ka-Shing, by Leena Rao, Techcrunch, 
October 18, 2011 ( 

135. "Is New License Plate Fature A Privacy Car Wreck?" Katie Kindelan, March 
18, 2011 ( 

136. "Meet Proust, a social network that digs deeper," Colleen Taylor, GigaOm, July 19, 2011 

137. The Ditto app allows us to use our social network to tell us what we should be doing. See: 
"Ditto: The Social App for What You Should Be Doing," M. G. Siegler, Techcrunch, 
March 3, 2011 ( 

138. "Microsoft in $8.5 billion Skype Gamble," Richard Waters, Financial Times, May 10, 2011 

139. "Software from Big Tech Firms, Start- Ups Take Page From Facebook," Cari Tuna, The 
Wall Street Journal, March 29, 201 1. 

140. See again: "Social Power and the Coming Corporate Revolution," David Kirkpatrick, 
Forbes, September 7, 2011 ( 
-power-and-the-coming-corporate-revolution/). Kirkpatrick 's notion of "enlightened 
companies" here is rather like the "enlightenment" of Catherine the Great's Russia which 
embraced the Inspection House ideas of the Bentham brothers. 

141. "Social Network Ad Revenues to Reach $10 Billion Worldwide in 2013," eMarketer, Oc- 
tober 5, 2011 ( 

142. "RadiumOne About to Corner the Market on Social Data Before Competitors Even 
Know What's Happening," Michael Arrington, Techcrunch, May 20, 2011 (http:// 

143. See, for example, "SocialVibe Closes $20 Million Funding Round," Edmund Let, Ad Age, 
March 22, 2011 ( 

144. CapLinked offers a collaborative platform for investors and startups. Launched in Octo- 
ber 2010, with already more than two thousand companies and a thousand investors on 
its platform, CapLinked includes Peter Thiel, who Reid Hoffman introduced to Mark 
Zuckerbergas the original angel investor in Facebook, as an investor. 

145. Cheapism, a social network for bargain diners, is already alerting privacy concerns. See, 
for example, "Do Tips on Nearby Bargains Outweigh Privacy Concerns?" Ann Carrns, 
The New York Times, May 20, 201 1. 

146. "Investors Cough up $1.6 Million to Dine with Grubwithus, the Brilliant Social Dining 
Service," by M. G. Siegler, Techcrunch, May 6, 2011 ( 

147. For a confessional about social dieting, see: "Apps to Share Your Pride at the Gym," Owen 
Thomas, The New York Times, February 9, 2011 ( 


148. "Fitbit users are unwittingly sharing details of their sex lives with the world," The Next 
Web, July 3, 2011 ( 

149. "A Social Network for Neighbors — Former Googlers Launch Yatown," Kenna McHugh, 
Social Times, May 12, 2011 ( 

150. Zenergo is founded by Patrick Ferreli who co-founded SocialNet with Reid Hoffman in 
1997. "Organizing Offline: Zenergo Launches Social Network for Real World Activities," by 
Rip Emerson, Techcrunch, May 5, 2011 ( 
-offline-zenergo-launches-social-network-for-real-world- activities/). 

151. Chime. in is backed by the well-respected Bill Gross and his Ubermedia incubator. See: 
"Bill Gross Explains What's Different About Chime. in: 'You Can Follow Part Of A Per- 
son,'" Leena Rao, Techcrunch, October 18, 2011 ( 

152. "LAL People Is Now ShoutFlow, A "Magical" Social Discovery App," Liz Cannes, 
AllThingsD, September 15, 2011 ( 

153. "Open Study Wants to Turn the World into 'One Big Study Group,' " Alexis Tsotsis, Tech- 
crunch, June 8, 2011 ( 

154. Asana is co-founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskowitz, who was also Mark 
Zuckerberg's roommate at Harvard. Like Facebook, Asana has an obsession with becom- 
ing a "utility." See: "Finally: Facebook Co-Founder Opens the Curtain on Two-Year Old 
Asana," Sarah Lacy, Techcrunch, Feb 7, 2011 ( 

155. "Q&A: Joshua Schachter on How Jig Differs from Other Social Sites," Liz Cannes, 
AllThingsD, August 29, 2011 ( 

156. "Endomondo Raises $800,000 To Make Cardio Training Virtually Social," by Matthew 
Lynley, Mobile Beat, March 22, 2011 ( 

157. Disney buying Togetherville is an example of what Eco and Baudrillard meant by "hyper 
reality." As I tweeted in February 20 1 1 , what is a satirist supposed to do when Disney really 
does buy kid's social network Togetherville? ( For more on the Disney 
acquisition of Togetherville, see: "Disney Acquires Social Network for Kids Together- 
ville," Leena Rao, Techcrunch, 24 February 2011 ( 

158. "Techcrunch Disrupt Champion Shaker Shakes Down Investors For $15 Million," Mi- 
chael Arrington, Uncrunched, October 9, 2011 ( 
techcrunch-disrupt-champion-shaker-shakes-down-investors-for-15-million/). The idea 
of Shaker as a "social serendipity engine" was put forward by Silicon Valley venture capi- 
talist Shervin Pishevar, whose company, Menlo Ventures, was a seed investor in Shaker. 

159. "Amazon Brings Social Reading to Kindle — But Will You Use It?" Richard MacManus, 
ReadWriteWeb, August 8, 2011 ( 


160. Scribn mission statement. See: 

161. "Scribn Raises Another $13 Million, Aims To Bring Social Reading To Every Device," by 
Jason Kincaid, January 18, 2011, Techcrunch ( 

162. "Rethinking the Bible as a Social Book," Erick Schonfeld, Techcrunch, January 24, 201 1 
( l/01/24/rethinking-bible-social-book/?icid=maing|main5 

163. "A Social Networking Device for Smokers," Joshua Brustein, The New York Times, May 
10, 2011 ( 

164. "RealNetworks founder in Online Video — Again," Russ Adams, The Wall Street Journal, 
March 1,2011. 

165. "The New Technology of Creepiness: Online Ways to Date, Stalk, Home-Wreck, and 
Cheat," by David Zax, Fast Company, February 28, 201 1 ( 

166. "Creepy app uses Twitter and Flickr data to track anyone on a map,", 25 Febru- 
ary 201 1 ( l/02/25/b2dl9/creepy-app-uses-twitter 



2. George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four, (Penguin), 69. 

3. Christopher Hitchens, Why Orivell Matters (Basic 2002). Hitchens ends his characteris- 
tically sparkling defense of Orwell's contemporary relevancy with an attack on the lin- 
guistic inexactitude of post-modernists like Michel Foucault. It seems to me, however, 
that if Foucault and Orwell were both still around today, they would form a united front, 
so to speak, against the prying eyes of social media. 

4. Directed by Ridley Scott and produced by the New York advertising firm of Chiat/Day 
with a $900,000 budget, this one-minute commercial won TV Guide's 1999 "Great Com- 
mercial of All Time" award. 

5. "Little Brother Is Watching," Walter Kirn, The New York Times, October 15, 2010 

6. "Adam Curtis: Have computers taken away our power?" Katharine Viner, The Guard- 
ian, May 6, 2011 ( 

7. Ibid. 

8. "Picture this, social media's next phase," by David Gelles, London Financial Times, 
December 28, 2010 ( 

9. "The Social Media Bubble," Umair Haque,, March 23, 2010. 

10. See: 

11. "The Twitter 100", London Independent Newspaper, February 15, 2011. Fry and Brand 
were ranked fourth and sixth respectively, ( 

12. For my November 2010 "Keen On" Techcrunch. tv show interview with Don Tapscott, 


13. Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, MacroWikinomics: Rebooting Business and the 
fTor/^ (Portfolio, 2010). 

14. Ibid.,ch2. 

15. "Upending Anonymity, These Days the Web Unmasks Everyone," by Brian Stelter, The New 
York Times,]une 20, 201 1 ( l/06/21/us/21anonymity.html). 

16. Rachel Botsford and Roo Rogers, What's Mine Is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption 
Is Changing the Way We Live fHarper Business 2010) See also: "The End of Consumer- 
ism," by Leo Hickman, The Guardian. 

17. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (Cambridge, 1989). 67. 

18. "The Insidious Evils of 'Like' Culture," Neil Strauss, The Wall Street Journal, ^uly 2, 2011. 

19. "When We're Cowed by the Crowd," Jonas Lehrer, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 201 1. 

20. "Why I Deleted My AngelList Account," Bryce Roberts, Bryce.VC, February 21, 201 1. 
21 "What's the Real Deal with AngelList?" Mark Suster, Techcrunch, February 26, 2011. 

22. "United They Stand," by Clive Cookson and Daryl Ibury, The Financial Times, December 
28, 201 1 (http://www.ft.eom/intl/cms/s/0/9eec57ac-2c8e-l Iel-8cca-00l44feabdc0.html 

23. "Let's Get Naked: Benefits of Publicness Versus Privacy," Scot Hacker, March 14, 2011 

24. "One Identity or More?" Jeff Jarvis, Buzzmachine, March 8, 2011. 

25. "In Small Towns, Gossip Moves to the Web, and Turns Violent," by A. G. Sulzberger, 
September 16, 2011 ( 

26. Ibid. 

27. Ibid. 

28. "How the Casey Anthony Murder Case Became the Social-Media Trial of the Century," 
by John Cloud, Jiwe magazine, June 16, 2011 ( 

29 "Little Brother Is Watching," Walter Kirn, The New York Times, October 20, 2010. 

30. "Fake Identities Were Used on Twitter to Get Information on Weiner," by Jennifer Pres- 
ton, The New York Times, June 17, 2011 ( 

31. "Naked Hubris": "When it comes to scandal girls won't be boys . . ." Sheryl Gay Stolberg; 
". . . while digital flux makes it easier for politicians to stray" Kate Zernike, The New York 
Times, June 12, 2011 ( 

32. Dick Meyer, Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millenium (Crown, 
2008), 6, 16. 

33. See, for example, "Athlete-Fan Dialogue Becomes Shouting Match," George Vecsey, The 
New York Times, June 18, 2011. ( 

34. "Birdbrained," James Poniewozik, Time magazine. Vol. 177 No. 25, June 20, 2011. 

35. The August 2010 Facebook comment from the British Columbian dealership worker said: 
"Sometimes ya have good smooth days, when nobodys f***ing with your ability to earn a 


living and sometimes accidents DO happen, its unfortunate, but thats why [they're] 

called accidents right?" 

36. "Teen Sacked for 'Boring' Job Facebook Comment," Lester Haines, The Register, Febru- 
ary 26, 2009 ( 

37. "When Teachers Talk Out of School," Jonathan Zimmerman, The New York Times, ]une 
3, 201 1 ( l/06/04/opinion/04zimmerman. html). 

38. "Gilbert Gottfried Fired as Aflac Duck after Japanese Tsunami Tweets," Huffington Post, 
March 13, 2011 ( 

39. "Man on Trial over Twitter 'Affair' Claims Says Case Has 'Big Legal Implications,' " Press 
Assocation, The Guardian, ]\xnt 15, 2011 ( 

40. "Kent Girls Harass Friend, 10, Make Lewd Posts on Her Facebook Account," Tereance 
Corcoran,, September 24, 2011 ( 

41. "Case of 8,000 Menacing Posts Tests Limits of Twitter Speech," Somini Sengupta, The 
New York Times, August 26, 2011 ( 

42. George Orwell, Collected Works (Seeker & Warburg, 1980), "Inside the Whale," 494-518. 

43. Jarvis, Public Parts, 1 1 . 

44. "Sean Parker: Yes, My New Start-Up Is Called Airtime," Matt RosofF, Business Insider, 
October 17, 2011 ( 
-called-airtime-201 l-10?op=l). 

45. "Sharing to the power of 2012," by Sheryl Sandberg, The Economist, November 12, 2011 

46. "Google's Schmidt: I Screwed Up on Social Networking," Sam Gustin,, June 
1, 2011 ( 


48. "Google and the Search of the Future," Holman W.Jenkins, The Wall Street Journal, Au- 
gust 14, 2010 ( 

49. This is an internal Facebook initiative announced in late 2009 (see. The Facebook Effect, 

50. See, for example, Zuckerberg's interview with Techcrunch's Michael Arrington on 
January 8, 2010, at the Crunchies Award Ceremony ( 

51. Zuckerberg first stated this law at a Silicon Valley event in November 2008. See: "Zucker- 
berg's Law of Information Sharing," Saul Hansell, The New York Times, November 6, 2008 

52. "Zuckerberg: 'We Are Building A Web Where The Default Is Social,' " Erick Schonfeld, 
Techcrunch, April 21, 2010 ( 

53. "The Big Picture of Facebook f8: Prepare for the Oversharing Explosion," Liz Cannes, 


September 22, 2011 ( 

54. "Facebook Boldly Annexes the Web," Ben Elowitz, AllThingsD, September 22, 2011 

55. "With 'Frictionless Sharing,' Facebook and News Orgs Push Boundaries of Oline Pri- 
vacy," Jeff Sonderman, September 29, 2011 ( 
-lab/social-media/ 147638/with-frictionless-sharing-facebook-and-news-orgs-push 

56. "Facebook Boldly Annexes the Web," Ben Elowitz, AllThingsD, September 22, 2011 

57. "Take care how you share," Chris Nutall, Financial Times, October 6, 201 1 (http://www 

58. "The Big Picture of Facebook f8: Prepare for the Oversharing Explosion," Liz Cannes, 
September 22, 2011 ( 

59. "With 'Frictionless Sharing,' Facebook and News Orgs Push Boundaries of Oline Pri- 
vacy," Jeff Sonderman, September 29, 2011 ( 
-lab/social-media/ 147638/with-frictionless-sharing-facebook-and-news-orgs-push 

60. "The Facebook Timeline Is the Nearest Thing I've Seen to a Digital Identity (And It's 
Creepy As Hell),", September 23, 2011 ( 

61. "Your Life on Facebook, in Total Recall," by Jenna Wortham, The New York Times, 
December 15, 2011 ( 

62. "The World's Most Powerful People List", Forbes, 2 November, 2011 (http://www.forbes 

63. "Facebook Boldly Annexes the Web," Ben Elowitz, AllThingsD, September 22, 2011 

64. According to Bloomberg, Facebook 's valuation rose to over $41 billion in December 2010 
-of-private-companies-report-find.html). Then, on January 2, 2011, The New York Times 
announced that Goldman Sachs had lead a $500 million investment in Facebook at a val- 
uation of $50 billion ( 

65. Facebook 's $45 billion valuation would put it ahead of the CDPs of forty African coun- 
tries in 2009. 

66. "Facebook's best friend" William D. Cohan, The New York T/ww, January 4, 2001(http:// 

67. See: "Why $50bn may not be that much between friends," Richard Waters, Financial 
Times, January 8/9, 2011( 
5760919933947187l6.html) and "Why Facebook Looks Like a Bargain— Even at $50 
Billion" by James B. Stewart, PVall Street Journal, Jinuzry 22, 2011 (http://online.wsj 

68. "Facebook Secondary Stock Just Surged to $34 — That's an $85 Billion Valuation," by 


M. G. Siegler, Techcrunch, March 21, 2011 ( 

69. The Facebook Effect, 200. 

70. Ibid. 

71. It was H.L.A. Hart, the Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford University, who described 
Bentham in these memorable terms. {Bentham, Dinwiddy), 109. 

72. The Facebook Effect, 199. 

73. MingleBird was introduced at San Francisco's Launch Conference on February 24, 201 1, 
the annual start-up event produced by Jason Calacanis. See: "MingleBird wants to make 
event networking less awkward," Anthony Ha, VentureBeat, February 24, 2011 (http:// 

74. For an introduction to this reputation economy, see: "Wannable Cool Kids Aim to Game 
the Web's New Social Scorekeepers," Jessica E. Vascellaro, The Wall Street Journal, Febru- 
ary 8, 2011 ( 

75. AOL acquired About. me for "tens of millions of dollars" in December 2010, only four 
days after its official launch: "AOL acquires Personal Profile Start-Up About.Me", by Mi- 
chael Arrington, Techcrunch, December 20, 2010 ( 

76. Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism," Christine Rosen, The New Atlantis: A Jour- 
nal of Technology and Society, Summer 2007. 

77. "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell. 

78. "The Rise of the Zuckerverb: The New Language of Facebook," Ben Zimmer, The Atlan- 
tic, September 30, 2011 ( 

79. Ibid. 

80. "Got Twitter? You've Been Scored," Stephanie Rosenbloom, The New York Times, June 
26, 2011 ( 

81. Like MingleBird, eEvent was introduced at the February 2011 Launch event in San Fran- 
cisco. See: "eEvent Helps Spread the Word," by Anthony Ha, VentureBeat, February 24, 
2011 ( 

82. John Dewey, Experience and Nature. For a fuller discussion of Dewey's ideas, see Daniel 
J. Solove's The Future of Reputation. 

83. Experience and Nature, 166. 

84. "The Eyes Have It," Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, May 22-23, 2010. 

85. The Facebook Effect, 200. 


1 This Facebook exchange took place on June 16, 2011, in the aftermath of riots in Vancou- 
ver after the local Canucks ice hockey team lost the final game of the Stanley Cup. See: 
"Vancouver Rioters Exposed on Crowdsourced Tumblr," by Brenna Ehrlich, Mashable, 
June 16, 2011 ( 

2. The Facebook Effect, 200. 

3. "Little Brother Is Watching," Walter Kirn, The New York Times, October 20, 2010 


4. "Social Isolation and New Technology," Keith Hampton, Lauren Session, Eun Ja Her and 
Lee Rainie, November 2, 2009 ( 

5. "My Space: Social Networking or Social Isolation?" Rob Nyland, Raquel Marvez and Ja- 
son Beck, Brigham Young University, Department of Communications. Paper presented 
at the AEJMC Midwinter Conferencer, Feb 23-24 2007. 

6. "Empathy: College Students Don't Have as Much as They Used to, Study Finds," Science 
Daily. May 29, 2010 ( 

7. "Science Proves Twitter Really Has Become More Sad Since 2009," by Graeme McMillan, 
Time, December 22, 2011 ( 

8. For my February 2011 "Keen On" interview with Turkle, see: http:// 

9. Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each 
0//7er (Basic 2011). 

10. Ibid., 17. 

11. Ibid., 181. 

12. Ibid., 280-281. 

13. "Facebook Fuelling Divorce Research Claims," Daily Telegraph, December 21, 2009 

14. "Serendipity Is No Algorithm on College Dating Site," Hannah Miet, February 25, 201 1 

15. Alone Together, 192. 

16. Ibid., 160. 

17. Ibid., 173. 

18. Ibid., 192. 

19. Elsewhere U.S. A, Dalton Conley (Pantheon, 2009), 7. 

20. Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (Black and Red, 1983), #167. 

21. "Social Websites Harm Children's Brains: Chilling Warning to Parents from Top Neuro- 
scientist," David Derbyshire, London Mail, February 24, 2009 ( 

22. "Small Change: Why the revolution Will Not Be Tweeted," Malcolm Gladwell, The New 
Yorker, October 4, 2010 ( 
fact_gladwell). See also the March 27, 201 1, debate between Gladwell and Fareed Zakaria 
on Zakaria's CNN show "Fareed Zakaria GPS": ( 
SCRIPTS/1 103/27/fzgps.Ol. html). 

23. Schmidt made this defense of the internet when he spoke at the Media Guardian Edin- 
burgh Interneational Television Festival at the end of August 2011. See: "Google's Eric 
Schmidt: don't blame the internet for the riots," The Daily Telegraph, 27 August (http:// 


24. The call for blackouts was led by the prominent Conservative MP, Louise Mensch, See: 
"Louise Mensch MP calls for Twitter and Facebook blackouts during riots," Martin Beck- 
ford, The Daily Telegraph, August 12, 2011 ( 

25. Amongst the politicians calling for the baning of rioters from social media were British 
Prime Minister David Cameron. See: "David Cameron considers banning suspected 
rioters from social media," Josh Halliday, The Guardian, August 11, 2011 (http://www 

26. Joshua Cooper Ramo, The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly 
Suprises Us and What We Can Do About It (Little Brown 2009). Although this stimulating 
book was published in 2009, it nonetheless predicted events like England's 201 1 flash riots. 

27. "Protests Spurs Online Dialogue on Inequity," Jennifer Preston, The New York Times, 
October 8, 2011 ( 

28. "Occupy Wall Street? These protests Are Not Tahir Square, but Scenery," The Guardian, 
October 20, 2011 ( 

29. "How Russia's Internet Hamsters Outfoxed Vladimir Putin," by Andrew Keen, CNN, 
December 13, 2011 ( 

30. "The Protester," by Kurt Andersen, Time magazine, December 14, 201 1 (http://www.time 

3L "Keen On . . . Kurt Andersen: Why 2011 Has Only Just Begun," TechcrunchTV, 
December 29, 2011 ( 
-201 1-has-only-just-begun/). 

32. "People Power: A New Palestinian movement," Joe Klein, Time magazine, March 31, 
2011 (,9171,2062474,00.html). 

33. "London, Egypt and the Nature of Social Media," Ramesh Srinivasan, The Washington 
Post, August 11, 2011 ( 
-egypt-and-the-complex-role-of-social-media/201 1/08/1 l/gIQAIoud8I_story.html). 

34. George Friedman, The Next Decade: Where We've Been . . . and Where We're Going {Dou- 

35. "A Wake-up Call from a Fake Syrian Lesbian Blogger," Evgeny Morozov, The Financial 
r/wf5, June 17,2011. 

36. Invented, as a pejorative terms, by the GigaOm columnist Matthew Ingram, to critique 
both Morozov and Malcolm Gladwell. See: "Malcolm Gladwell: Social Media Still Not a 
Big Deal", GigaOm, March 29, 2011. 

37. Evgeny Morozov, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom (Public Affairs, 

38. "Keen On Yevgeny Morozov: Why America Didn't Win The Cold War and Other Net 
Delusions," Techcrunch, January 11, 2011 ( 

39. "Thai Facebookers warned not to 'like' anti-monarchy groups," The Guardian, November 


25, 2001 ( l/nov/25/thai-facebookers-warned 

40. "Beijing Imposes New Rules on Social Networking Sites," by Edward Wong, The New 
York Times, December 16, 2011 ( 

41. "Iran Clamps Down on Internet Use," by Saeed Kamali Dehghan, The Guardian, ]zmxzvy 5, 
2011 ( 

42. In Veracruz, for example, the State Assembly has actually made it a crime to use Twitter. 
See: "Mexico Turns to Social Media for Information and Survival," by Damien Cave, The 
New York Times, September 24, 2011 ( 

43. "Bodies hanging from bridge in Mexico are warning to social media users", by Mariano 
Castillo,, September 14, 2011 ( 

44. In conversation with Liz Cannes of All Things D, December 29, 2010 (http://net 

45. "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." From Orwell's Ani- 

46. From "Twitter Statistics for 2010" — A December 2010 report by the social media moni- 
toring group Sysomos which examined more than a billion tweets (http://www.sysomos 

47. "The Web is Dead, Long Live the Internet," Chris Anderson, Wired, August 17, 2011 

48. "Got Twitter? You've Been Scored," Stephanie Rosenbloom, The New York Times, June 

26, 201 1 ( l/06/26/sunday-review/26rosenbloom. html). 

49. "To Tweet or Not to Tweet," Zachary Karabell, Time Magazine, April 11, 2011 (http://,88l6,2062464,00.html#). 

50. The Rise and Fall of Elites, Vilfredo Pareto (Bedminster Press, 2008), 36. 

51. See The Numerati (2008, Houghton Miflin), Stephen Baker's excellent introduction to 
our new numerati ruling class. 

52. Meglena Kuneva, Keynote Speech, "Roundtable on Online Data Collection, Targeting 
and Profiling," Brussels, March 31, 2009. 

53. James Gleick, The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood (Pantheon, 201 1), 8. 

54. "The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets," Julia Angwin, July 30, 2010 (http://online 

55. Ibid. 

56. James Gleick, The Information (Pantheon, 201 1), 8. See also my June TechcrunchTV in- 
terview with Gleick. 

57. Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You (Penguin, 2011), 6. 
See, also, my TechcrunchTV. 

58. "Does Facebook Really Care About You?" Douglass RushkofF,, September 23, 
201 1 ( 1/09/22/opinion/rushkofF-facebook-changes/index 
.html?hpt=hp_bnl 1). 


59. "The Mobile Allure," by Barney Jopson, The Financial Times, December 21, 2011 

60. "Less Web Tracking Means Less Effective Ads, Researcher Says," Somini Sengupta, The 
New York Times, September 15, 2011 ( 

61. "Online Trackers Rake in Funding," Scott Thurm, The Wall Street Journal, February 25, 

62. "Generation Why," Zadie Smith. 

63. See: "The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets" (July 30, 2010), "Microsoft Quashed Ef- 
fort to Boost Online Privacy" (August 2, 2010), "Stalkers Exploit Cellphone GPS" (Au- 
gust 3, 2010) "On the Web's Cutting Edge, Anonymity in Name Only (August 4, 2010), 
"Google Agonizes on Privacy as Ad World Vaults Ahead" (August 10, 2010). 

64. "Your Apps Are Watching You" Scott Thurm and Yukari Iwantani Kane, The Wall Street 
Journal, December 18, 2010 ( 

65. "Like" Button Follows Web Users," Amir Efrati, The Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2011 

66. "Why Facebook's Facial Recognition Is Creepy," Sarah Jacobsson, PC World, June 8, 
2011 ( 

67. "How Facebook Is Making Friending Obsolete," Julia Angwin, The Wall Street Journal, 
December 15, 2009 ( 

68. "How Facial Recognition Technology Can Be Used to Get Your Social Security Num- 
ber," Kashmir Hill, Forbes, August 1, 2011 ( 
201 1/08/01 /how-face-recognition-can-be-used-to-get-your-social-security-number/). 

69. "Computers That See You and Keep Watch Over You," Steve Lohr, January 1, 2011 

70. Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From, Chapter IV (Riverhead, 2010) 

71. "Computers That See You and Keep Watch Over You." 

72. The two researchers are Pete Warden, a former Apple employee, and Alasdair Allan, a data 
visualisation scientist. See: "iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go," by Charles Ar- 
thur, London Guardian, April 20, 2011 ( 

73. "Apple, Google Collect User Data," Julia Angwin and Jennifer Valentino-Devries, The 
Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2011 ( 

74. "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" Nicholas Carr, The Atlantic, ]n\y/A.\i^nsx. 2008 (http://www tupid/6868/). 

75. "Google Calls Location Data 'Valuable,'" Amir Efrati, The Wall Street Journal, May 1, 
2011 ( 
30.html?mod=googlenews_wsj) . 

76. "Amazon Big Brother patent knows where you'll go," by Eric Sherman, CBS News, 


December 14, 2011 ( 
-brother-patent-knows-where-youil-go/), by knowing where we've been and where we will 
go, promises to be a particularly intrusive algorithm of digital coercion and seduction. 

77. "The Evolution of a New Trust Economy," Brian Solis,, December 9, 

78. Dan Gilmor, Google -h. September 28, 2011. ( 

79. Robert Vamosi, When Gadgets Betray Us: The Dark Side of our Infatuation with New 
Technologies (Basic, 2011). Also see my April 28, 2011 TechcrunchTV interview with Va- 
mosi ( 
-book-giveaway/ ). 

80. "Internet Probe Can Track You Down to Within 690 Metres," Jacob Aron, New Scientist, 
April 5, 2011 ( 

81. "Data Privacy, Put to the Test," Natasha Singer, The New York Times, April 30, 201 1. 

82. "Who's Watching You? Data Privacy Day Survey Reveals Your Fears Online," PRNews- 
wire, January 28, 2011 ( 

83. "Report finds Internet users worry more about snooping companies than spying Big 
Brother," Associated Press, June 2, 2011 ( 
technology/ report-finds-internet-users-worry-more-about-snooping-companies-than 


1. Dan Auiler, Vertigo, TheMakingofa Hitchcock Classic (St Martin's 2000), xiii (from intro- 
duction by Scorcese). 

2. Filmed in the second half of October 1957 in Stage 5 of Paramount Studios in Bel Air. 

3. The screenplay written by Alec Coppell, Samuel Taylor and Hitchcock himself, and 
adapted from the 1954 French novel The Living and The Dead (D'Entre Les Morts) by 
Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. 

4. The spiral is the central motif of the movie. See, for example. Vertigo's mesmerizingly 
twisted opening titles, designed by Hitchcock's long-time collaborator, Saul Bass, or Mad- 
eleine's hair style, or the twisted streets of San Francisco. 

5. Fitzgerald quote {Tender Is the Night). 

6. Kevin Starr, Americans and the California Dream 1850-1915 (Oxford University Press 
1973), 58. 

7. Gray Brechin, Imperial San Francisco (University of California Press, 2006), 32. 

8. Both played by Kim Novak. It is universally acknowledged that this was Novak's greatest 
role, in spite — or perhaps because of — her distaste for the bullying Alfred Hitchcock. 

9. All the clothing in the movie was designed by Edith Head, another member of Hitch- 
cock's team of longtime collaborators. 

10. Francois TrufFaut, Hitchcock Truffaut: The Definitive Study of Alfred Hitchcock, (Touch- 
stone, 1983), 111. 

11. In the 2002 British Film Instiintt/ Sight and Sound m^^zzme. list of the greatest movie of 
all time, a poll determined by a leading group of international movie critics, Hitchcock's 


Vertigo was voted the second best movie of all time, behind Orson Welles' Citizen Kane. 

12. In the Universal DVD, chapter 31 at 1:58:27. 

13. See, in particular, the 1937 essay "The Nature of the Firm" by the University of Chicago 
economist Ronald Coase which lays out the necessity of the firm and explains its central 
role in the twentieth-century economy. 

14. The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion, John 
Hagel III, John Seely Brown & Lang Davidson, (Basic 2010), 36. 

15. The Organization Man,W\\\i2.m H. Whyte (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), 51. 

16. The Fifties, David Halberstam (Villiard Books, 1993), 526-527. 

17. The term "Silicon Valley" was coined by a Californian entrepreneur called Ralph Vaerst 
and popularized in 1971 by tVit Electronic News ']oun\dii'ist Don Hoefler. 

18. There are many excellent histories of the computer and the Internet including David Ka- 
plan's Silicon Boys And Their Valley of Dreams (1999, Perennial); Tracy Kidder's Soul of the 
New Machine (Back Bay 2000); John Naughton's A Brief History of the Future (Overlook, 
2000); and Robert Cringky, Accidental Empires (Harper, 1996). 

19. David Kaplan, Silicon Boys and Their Valley of Dreams (1999, Perennial) 40. 

20. Ibid., 49. 

21. Mike Malone called them "the greatest collection of electronics genius ever assembled. In 
addition to Moore and Noyce, they included Julius Blank, Victor Grinich, Eugene 
Kleiner, Jean Hoerni,Jay Last and Sheldon Roberts. {The Big Score), 68-69. 

22. Mike Malone, The Big Score, Doubleday 1985, 40. 

23. Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (New York: Harper, 1975) 
[orig. pub. 1942], 82-85. 

24. John MarkofF, "Searching for Silicon Valley," The New York Times, April 16, 2009. 

25. Kelly's What Technology Wants (Viking, 2008) and Carr's The Shallows (2008) represent 
different sides of the same coin. Kelly presents technology as our brain; Carr says that 
technology is destroying our brain. I confess that I have sometimes fallen into this trap 
too, especially in my 2007 book Cult of the Amateur, which oversimplified the causal rela- 
tionship between the Internet and our culture. 

26. Richard Florida, The Rise of Creative Class, 17. 

27. Available on DVD: The Complete Monterey Pop Festival — Criterion Collection, (Blu- 
Ray) (2009). 

28. San Francisco Oracle, Vol. 1 , Issue 5, 2. 

29. Todd Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (Bantam, 1993), 203. 

30. Published by Malcolm Cowley at Viking Press. See David Halberstram, The Fifties (Vil- 
liard Books, 1993) ch 21, 306. 

31. Theodore Roszak, The Making of the Counter Culture (Doubleday 1968) 184. 

32. Mark Andrejevic, Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), 26. 

33. A History of Private Life, Volume III, "Passions of the Renaissance" (Harvard, 1989), 

34. Ibid. 

35. Karl Marx, "The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte," from Karl Marx, Selected Writings, 
edited by David McLellan (Oxford University Press, 1977), 300. 

36. Theodore Roszak, The Making of a Counter Culture, (Doubleday 1968), chapter 1. "By 


technocracy, Rosznak meant: 'that social form in which an industrial society reaches the 
peak of its organizational integration. It is the ideal men usually have in mind when they 
speak of modernizing, up-dating, rationalizing, planning.' " 

37. For an incisive cultural critique of our contemporary cult of authenticity, see Andrew Pot- 
ter's The Authenticity Hoax: How We Get Lost Finding Ourselves (Harper Collins, 2010). 
See also "Public and Private," my essay on J. S. Salinger in The Barnes & Noble Review of 
March 22, 2010 ( 

38. Sennett, The Fall of Public Man, 220. 

39. Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing 
Expectations, (Norton, 1991), 10. 

40. Alvin Toffler, Future Shock (Random House, 1970), 284. 

41. "Adam Curtis: Have Computers Taken Away our Power?" Katharine Viner, The Guard- 
ian, May 6, 2011 ( 


1. Patrick McGilligan, Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light (ReganBooks, 2003), 

2. The Power of Pull, 42. For more on Hagel and Seely Brown's theory of the "big shift" 
from an industrial to a digital economy, see my "Keen On" interview 
with them from September 2010 ( 

3. "The Online Looking Glass," Ross Douthat, TheNew York Times, ]\inc 12, 2011. 

4. John MarkofF, What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal 
Computer Industry, (Viking, 2005). 

5. Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, The Whole Earth Net- 
work, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism (Chicago University Press, 2006). 

6. James Harkin, Cyburbia, The Dangerous Idea That's Changing How We Live and Who We 
Are (Little Brown, 2009). 

7. Tim Wu, The Master Switch: The Life and Death of Information Empires, (Knopf, 2010). 

8. Ibid., 169. 

9. Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving The Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the 
World Wide Web (Harper Business, 2000). 

10. Ibid., 201. 

11. Ibid., 172. 

12. Turner, /"row Counterculture to Cyberspace, 14. 

13. David Brooks, Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There (Touch- 
stone, 2000). 

14. Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip 
Consumerism (University of Chicago, 1997). 

15. Apple's iconic marketing campaign around "Think Different" was produced by the Madi- 
son Avenue firm of TBWA/Chiat/Day, who produced the equally iconic 1984 Super Bowl 
advertisement for the Apple Macintosh personal computer. 

16. "Social Power and the Coming Corporate Revolution," David Kirkpatrick, Forbes, Sep- 


tembcr 7, 2011 ( 

17. "The Challenge Ahead," Peter Drucker. From The Essential Drucker, (Harper Business, 
2001). 347. 

18. Ibid., 348. 

19. Ibid., 348. 

20. Daniel Pink, Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself {W2.rncT Business 
Books, 2001). 

21. "While We Weren't Paying Attention the Industrial Age Just Ended,", 7 
February 2011 ( 

22. Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?" (Portfolio, 2010). 

23. Hugh McLeod, Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity (Portfolio, 2009). 

24. Gary Vaynerchuck, Crush It: Why Now Is the Time to Cash In On Your Passion (Harper 
Studio, 2009). 

25. Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, The Start-Up of You: An Entrepreneurial Approach to 
Buildinga Killer Career (Crown, 2012). 

26. "The Start-Up of You," Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times, July 12, 2011 (http:// 

27. Kevin Kelly, Out of Control: The Biology of Machines, Social Systems, & the World (Perseus, 

28. For more on Kelly's vision of the connected future, see my January 18, 2011 "Keen On" interview with him ( 

29. Turner, 174. 

30. Harkin, 1930. 

31. Kirkpatrick, 332. 

32. James Gleick, The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood (Pantheon 201 1) 48. 

33. Michael Malone, Valley of the Heart's Delight: A Silicon Valley Notebook 1963-2001 
(Wiley, 2002). 

34. Robert Puttnam, Bowling Alone, 2000 (Simon & Schuster), 410. 

35. Charles Leadbeater, We-Think: Mass Innovation, Not Mass Production (Profile, 2008). 

36. Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and 
Freedom, (Yale, 2006), Yochai Benkler (Yale, 2006). 

37. Erik Qualman, Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do 
Business (Wiley, 2009). 

38. Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everyone: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations 
(Penguin, 2008). 

39. Charlene Li, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead. 
See also my July 2010 "Keen On" interview with Li and Shirky (http:// 

40. Mitch Joel, Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected, Connect Your Business to Ev- 
eryone (Business Plus, 2009). 

41. Simon Mainwaring, We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a 
Better World (Palgrave Macmillan, 201 1). 


42. Eric Greenberg and Karl Weber, Generation We: How Millennial Youth Are Taking Over 
America and Changing Our World Forever (Puchatusan, 2008). 

43. Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler, Connected: The Surprsing Power ofUur So- 
cial Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (Little Brown, 2009). 

44. Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change 
the World (Penguin, 201 1). See, in particular, chapter 4: "Stronger Social Connectivity." See 
also my March "Keen On" interview with McGonigal in which she argues 
that "social is everything." 

45. Lisa Gansky, The Mesh: Why The Future of Business Is Sharing ^Portfolio, 2010J. See also 
my September 2010 "Keen On" interview with Gansky (http://techcrunch 

46. Francois Gossieaux, The Hyper-Social Organization: Eclipse Your Competition by Leverag- 
ing Social Media (McGraw-Hill, 2010). 

47. Gleick, The Information, 322. See "Into the Meme Pool" (ch 1 1), Gleick's lucid and infor- 
mative chapter on the history of meme, both as a scientific and cultural idea. 

48. "Social Networking Affects Brains Like Falling in Love," Adam Penenberg, Fast Company, 
July 1,2010. 

49. BBC News, August 10, 2010 ( 

50. Harold, the fictional hero (Brooks's self-styled Emile of this twenty-first Rousseauan 
guide to happiness) of The Social Animal and the apotheosis of sociability is known to his 
school friends as "the mayor" — perhaps not uncoincidentally giving him the same status 
as the most popular networkers on the geo-location service. David Brooks, The Social Ani- 
mal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement (Random House, 2011). 

51. "It's Not About You," David Brooks, The New York Times, May 30, 2011. 

52. Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation (River- 
head, 2010). 

53. Ibid., 44. 

54. Ibid., 206. 

55. Jaron Lanier, "Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism," 
5/3/06 ( 

56. Power of Pull, 247. 

57. Jeffjarvis, Public Parts, (Simon & Schuster, 201 1), 70-71. 

58. Clay Shirky, Cognitive Surplus, (Penguin, 2010). For more on Shirky's vision of a collab- 
orative future, see my July 2010 "Keen on" interview with him (http:// 

59. Cognitive Surplus, 19. 

60. See "Ringside at the Web Fight" by Michael Wolff, Vanity Fair, March 2010. As Wolff 
argues, "Clay Shirky ... is a man whose name is now uttered in technology circles with the 
kind of reverence with which lefi:-wingers used to say, "Herbert Marcuse." 

61. Connected, Christakis & Fowler, chapter 2. 

62. Cognitive Surplus, 60. 

63. "Gilgamesh to Gaga," by John Tresch, Lapham's Quarterly, Winter 2011 (http://www 



1. Jean Baudrillard, The Conspiracy of Art (Semiotext, 2005), 26. 

2. The Oxford Union, Christopher Hollis (Evans Brothers, 1965), 96. 

3. Jan Morris, Oxford (Oxford, 1979). 

4. Ibid., 21. 

5. Ibid., 3. 


7. "Fun in Following the Money," Daniel Terdiman, Wired magazine, May 8, 2004 (http:// 

8. Christopher Hollis, The Oxford Union (Evans Brothers, 1965), 106. 

9. In addition to Rossetti, the other artists who painted the murals were Valentine Prinsep, 
John Hungerford Pollen, William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Rodham Spencer Stan- 
hope, Arthur Huges and William and Briton Riviere. 

10. For the best introduction to the Pre-Raphaelite project, see: John D. Renton, The Oxford 
Union Murals. 

11. Vi\i\]o\\nson, Art: A New History (Harper CoUins, 2003), 533. 

12. Hollis, The Oxford Union, 209. 

13. E. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art {V)cvzi<\on, 1995) 384. 

14. A.N. Wilson, The Victorians (Norton, 2003). 

15. Laurence Des Cars, The Pre-Raphaelites: Romance and Realism (Discoveries), 69. 

16. Nothing If Not Critical, 1 15. 

17. Ibid., 116. 

18. Vz\x\]o\\r\son, Art: A New History (Harper Collins, 2003), 534. 

19. Robert Hughes, Nothing If Not Critical (Knopf, 1990), 116. 

20. The Oxford Union 1823-1923, Herbert Arthur Morrah (Cassell & Co, 1923), 175. 

21. <9x/ora',Jan Morris, 219. 

22. The Oxford Union, Christopher Hollis (Evans Brothers, 1965). 

23. Ibid., 101. 

24. In the 1980s, for example, over £125,000 was raised by the Landmark Trust to help re- 
store the building. See the Union booklet: The Oxford Union Murals, John D. Renton, 

25. Eric Hobsbawn, The Age of Revolution 1989-1848 (Vintage, 1996), 168. 

26. Michael Leapman, The World for a Shilling: How the Great Exhibition of 1951 Shaped a 
Nation (Headline, 2001). 

27. Joel Mokyr, The Level of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress (Oxford 
University Press, 1990), 81. 

28. As Bentham notes in Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation first published 
in 1798: "The word international, it must be acknowledged, is a new one; though, it is 
hoped, sufficiently analogous and intelligible. It is calculated to express, in a more signifi- 
cant way, the branch of law which goes commonly under the name of the law of nations: 
an appellation so uncharacteristic, that, were it not for the force of custom, it would seem 
rather to refer to internal jurisprudence." Bentham other neologisms include the words 
"maximize" and "minimalize," as well as "codify" and "codification" (see: John Dinwiddy, 
Bentham, 47). 


29. The industrial nature of the 1949 gold rush is reflected in the emergence of the mining 
engineer as San Francisco's new aristocrazia (see: Brechlin, Imperial San Francisco, 53). 

30. Eric Hobsbawn, The Age of Capital: 1848-1875 (Vintage 1996), 34, 63. 

31. Eric Hobsbawn, The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848 (Vintage), 168. 

32. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (Oxford University Press. 

33. Robert Rhodes James, Prince Albert: A Biography (Knopf, 1984), 190. 

34. Ibid. 

35. A. N. Wilson, The Victorians (Norton, 2003). 

36. German Ideology 

37. Michael Leapman, The World for a Shilling: How the Great Exhibition of 1851 Shaped a 
Nation (Headline, 2011), 24. 

38. Robert Rhodes James, Prince Albert: A Biography (Knopf, 1984), 147. 

39. Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Doubleday, 2010), 7. 

40. Jumes, Prince Albert, 199. 

41. Bryson,At Home, II. 

42. Hobsbawn, Age of Revolution, 186. 

43. James, Prince Albert, 200. 

44. Michael Leapman, The World for a Shilling, 59. 

45. The eccentric Babbage and his even more eccentric ideas were a thorn in the side of many 
prominent Victorians. "What shall we do to get rid of Mr. Babbage and his calculating 
machine" British Prime Minister Robert Peel wrote in 1842 (Gleick, The Information, 

46. George Friedman, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth (Knopf, 2005), 20. 

47. J. R. Piggott, The Palace of the People: The Crystal Palace at Sydenham, 1854-1936 (Hurst, 

48. Ibid.. 61. 

49. Ibid., 207. 

50. Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Cornell, 1983), 32-33. 

51. Aldous Huxley, Prisons (Trianon & Grey Falcon Presses, 1949). See: http://www.john 

52. Charles Fried, "Privacy," 77 Yale Law Journal (1968), 475, 477-478. 

53. "Little Brother Is Watching," Walter Kirn, The New York Times, October 15, 2010 

54. "So Is Web 3.0 Already Here?" Sarah Lacy, Techrunch, April 18, 201 1 (http://techcrunch 
.com/201 1/04/ 18/so-is-web-3-0-already-here-tctv/). 

55. Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, 207. 


1 . Discipline & Punish, 200. 

2. Norman Johnson, Forms of Constraint: A History of Prison Architecture (University of Il- 
linois Press, 2000), 56. 

3. William Blackburn's building of the modern Oxford prison was triggered by the posting 
of a inmate's crude caricature showing the gaoler of Oxford Castle standing on a mound 
of dung. Then, in 1786, the prison governors dismissed the gaoler and appointed a prison 
reformer called Daniel Harris in his place. 


4. A separate women's prison was built in 1851, the same year as the Great Exhibition. 

5. Jan Morris, Oxford, 35. 

6. In its representation of Mr Bridger's life of luxury inside the jail. The Italian Job inadver- 
tently predicted the future of the Oxford prison with its cells offering all the finest conve- 
niences of life. 

7. "Oxford Castle Unlocked", Official Guide ( 


9. "Sentenced to Luxury: Malmaison Oxford Castle Hotel,", February 16, 

10. We Live in Public. 

11. "Web Privacy: In Praise of Oversharing," Steven Johnson, May 20, 2010. 

12. The term Web 2.0 v/as invented and marketed by the Tim O'Reilly, the founder and CEO 
ofO'Reilly Media in 2004. 

13. Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story (Random House, 2010). 

14. "Apparat Chic: Talking with Gary Shteyngart, Shelfari, August 11, 2010 (http://blog 

15. Keen On ... Gary Shteyngart, Techcrunch, July 15,2011 ( 

16. Super Sad True Love Story, 209-210. 

17. Johnson is convinced that Harris's vision failed to come true. "It is far easier to set up web 
cameras and share video online today - thanks to YouTube and ubiquitous high-speed 
bandwidth — and yet almost no one chooses to display themselves in such an extreme 
way," he argues in his May 20, 2010 Time magazine essay "Web Privacy: In Praise of 
Oversharing." One wonders, however, which Internet Johnson is watching and whether 
he simply chooses to ignore the manifold self-revelationary networks that are shaping the 
Web 3.0 world. 

18. Robert Scoble and Shell Israel, Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way 
Businesses Talk with Customers (Wiley, 2006). 

19. "The Chief Humanizing Officer," The Economist, Feb 10, 2005 (http://www.economist 

20. The List: Five Most Influential Tweeters," Tim Bradshaw, The Financial Times, March 18, 
201 1 (http://www.ft.eom/cms/s/2/01aldc56-50e3-l Ie0-8931-00l44feab49a.html#axz 
zlLK2XdH9T). In addition to Scoble, theother four leading tweeters were the American 
actor Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk), the British comedian Stephen Fry (@stephenfry), the 
student blogger James Buck (@jamesbuck) and Sarah Brown (@SarahBrownuk), the wife 
of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. 

21. "Klout Finally Explains Why Obama Is Ranked Lower Than Robert Scoble," by Alyson 
Shontell, Business Insider, December 2, 2011 ( 

22. "Help, I've fallen into a pit of steaming Google-I- (what that means for tech Hogging)," 
Robert Scoble, Scobleizer, August 18, 2011 ( 

23. For an up-to-date summary of Scoble's use of social media, see his speech in Amsterdam to 
The Next Web conference on 29 April, 2011 ( 


24. "Much ado about privacy on Facebook (I wish Facebook were MORE OPEN!!!)", Scobleizer 
.com, May 8, 2010. 

25. Richard Sennett, The Fall of Public Man (Norton, 1974), 282. 

26. "Caesar Salad @ The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay" ( 

27. "Keen On .... Are We All Becoming Robert Scoble?" Techcrunch, December 1, 2010. 


1. Stanley Weintraub, Uncrowned King: The Life of Prince Albert (Free Press, 1997), 209. 

2. Larry Downes, The Laws of Disruption, (Basic, 2009), 73. 

3. "The Right to Privacy," Earl Warren and Louis Brandeis, Harvard Law Review, Vol. IV, 
December 15, 1890. 

4. "How a soccer star sparked the freedom debate of our age," by Lionel Barber, The Finan- 
cial Times, May 1^/1^,2.011. 

5. "Man on Trail over Twitter 'Affair' Claims Says Case Has 'Big Legal Implications,' " Press 
Association, June 15, 2011 ( 

6. "Zuckerberg, Schmidt Counter Sarkozy's Calls for Internet Regulation at 'EG8,'" by 
Rebecca Kaplan, Nationaljournal, May 28, 2011 ( 
tech/zuckerberg-schmidt-counter-sarkozy-s -calls -for-internet-regulation-at-eg8 

7. "Congress Calls on Twitter to Block Taliban," by Ben Farmer, Daily Telegraph, December 
25, 201 1 ( 

8. "US Court Verdict 'Huge Blow' to Privacy, Says former WikiLeaks Aide," by Dominic 
Rushe, The Guardian, November 11, 2011 ( 
1 1 /us-verdict-privacy-wikileaks-twitter). 

9. "Google Reaches Agreement on FTC's Accusations of "Deceptive Privacy Practices" in 
Buzz Rollout," Lenna Rao, Techcrunch, March 30, 2011 ( 

10. "Facebook 'Unfair' on Privacy", by Shayndi Raice and Julia Angwin, The Wall Street Jour- 
nal, November 30, 2011 ( 

11. "Why should I care about digital privacy?" Bob Sullivan, MSNBC, March 10, 2011 

12. "US Urges Web Privacy Bill of Rights," Julia Angwin, The Wall Street Journal, Deceber 
18, 2010 ( 

13. "The White House Offers Up a National Data Breach Law," Kashmir Hill, Forbes, May 
12,2011 ( 
-national-data- breach-law/). 

14. "Sen. Rockefeller Introduces 'Do Not Track' Bill for Internet," Cecilia Kang, Washington 
Post, May 9, 2011 ( 


15. "Leibowitz pushes Google on privacy," Mike Zapler, April 19, 201 1 (http://www.politico 
.com/news/stories/041 1/53440. hrml). 

16. In late April 2011, Senator Al Franken announced his intention to hold Congressional 
hearings about this data spill. See: "Franken sets hearings on Apple Google tracking," The 
Wall Street Journal, Marketwatch, May 4, 2011 ( 
franken-sets-hearing-on-apple-google-tracking-201 1-04-26). 

17. "Sen. Franken wants Apple and Google to require privacy policies for all smartphone 
apps," Gautham Nagesh, The Hill, May 25, 201 1 ( 
technology/ 163293-sen-franken-wants-apple-and-google-to-require-privacy-policies-for 

18. "A cloud gathers over our digital freedoms," Charles Leadbeater, The Financial Times, 
June 6, 2011 (http://www.ft.eom/cms/s/0/e7253a6e-9073-lle0-9227-00l44feab49a. 

19. "Corporate Rule of Cyberspace," Slavoj Zizek, Inside Higher Ed, May 2, 2011 (http:// 
and_ privacy). 

20. "Show Us the Data. (It's Ours, After All.), Richard H. Thaler, The New York Times, April 

21. "Senators: Net Privacy Law for Children in Need of Overhaul," Matthew Lasar, Ars 
Technica, April 30, 2010 ( 

22. "Setting Boundaries for Internet Privacy," Kevin J. O'Brien, The New York Times Septem- 
ber 18, 2011. 

23. "Google Faces New Demands in Netherlands Over Street View Data," Archibald Preus- 
chat, Wall Street Journal, April 20, 201 1 ( 

24. "Apple and Android phones Face Tighter Laws in Europe," Tim Bradshaw and Maija 
Palmer, The Financial Times, May 18, 2011. 

25. "Facebook to Be Probed in EU for Facial Recognition in Photos," Stephanie Bodoni, 
Bloomberg Businessweek, June 8, 2011 ( 

26. "Facebook is wrong to back a light touch for the web," Vittorio Colao, June 5, 2011 

27. "EU to Force Social Network Sites to Enhance Privacy," Leigh Phillips, London Guard- 
/^«, March 16, 2011. 

28. "LinkedIn 'Does a Facebook' — Your Name and Photo Used in Ads by Default," Paul 
Duckin,, August 11, 2011 ( 

29. "Data Privacy, Put to the Test," Natasha Singer, The New York Times, April 30, 2011 

30. "Web's Hot New Commodity: Privacy," The IVall Street Journal, Julia. Angwin and Emily 
Steel, February 28, 201 1. See also: "How to Fix (or Kill) Web Data about You," Riva Rich- 
mond, The New York Times, April 13, 2011 ( 


31. See in particular my conversation with Bret Taylor on online technology show, The Gill- 
mor Gang, on April 22 2010 ( 
gillmor-gang-04-22-10/) when I turn the tables on the social media executive and inter- 
rogate him about his identity. 

32. "Facebook Executive Takes Heat on Hearing About Privacy," Jim Puzzanghera, The Los 
Angeles Times, May 20, 2011 ( 
-facebook-privacy-201 10520). 

33. "The Facebook Resisters," by Jenna Wortham, The New York Times, December 13, 2011 

34. "Nobody Goes To Facebook Anymore, It's Too Crowded," Mike Arrington, Uncrunched, 
January 2, 2012 ( 

35. "Path Is Where the A List Hangs Out, Don't Tell Anyone," by Loic Le Meur, Loiclemeur 
.com, January 2, 2012 ( 

36. See the June 18, 201 1 "Social Networking Sites and our Lives" report by the Pew Internet 
and American Life Project ( 
-and-social-networks.aspx). While this report appears to celebrate the fact that Facebook 
users are more trusting than average, my conclusion is less optimistic. Given Facebook 's 
history on privacy and their record on other deeply controversial issues like facial recogni- 
tion technology, it's hard to avoid being cynical about the intelligence of these "trusting" 
Facebook users. 

37. "The end of Blippy as we know it," Alexia Tsotsis, Techcrunch, May 19, 201 1 (http://www 
. google. com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q="The-l-end-t-of-l-Blippy-l-as-l-we-l-know-l-it", 

38. "Privacy Isn't Dead. Just Ask Google-I-," Nick Bilton, The New York Times, July 18, 201 1 

39. "Google Steps Up its Privacy Game, Launches Good to Know," Violet Blue, ZDNet, 
October 18, 2011 ( 

40. "News Outlets Preserve Privacy by Giving Users Ways to mute Facebook 's Frictionless 
Sharing," Josh Constine, Inside Facebook, October 7, 2011 (http://www.insidefacebook 
.com/201 1/10/07/news-frictionless-sharing/). 

41. "Spotify Adds 'Private Listening' Mode After Complaints from Facebook Users," Ellis 
Hamburger, Business Insider, September 29, 2011 ( 

42. "Negative Online Data Can Be Challenged, at a Price," Paul Sullivan, The New York Times, 
June 10, 2011 ( 

43. "Erasing the Digital Past," Nick Bilton, The New York Times, April 1, 2011 (http://www 

44. Joshua Foer, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, 
(Penguin, 2011), 21-24. 

45. "Web Images to Get Expiration Date," BBC Technology News, January 20, 01 1 (http:// 


46. Moonwalking with Einstein, ch 4. 

47. "Web 2.0 Suicide Machine: Erase Your Virtual Life," January 9, 2010 (http://www.npr 
.org/tempIates/story/story.php?storyId=l 22379695). 


49. "The Twitter Trap," Bill Keller, The New York Times, May 18, 2011. Keller, whose tenure 
as executive editor of The New York Times was marked by a number of public spats with 
Arianna Huffington about the real value of social media, announced his retirement in 
June 2011. 

50. "Internet Users Now Have More and Closer Friends Than Those Offline," Casey Johnson, 
ArsTechnica,June 16,2011. 

51. "Study: You've Never Met 7% Of Your Facebook 'Friends,' " Alexia Tsotsis, Techcrunch, 
June 16, 2011. 

52. Pew Internet & American Life Project, "Social Networking Sites and our Lives: How 
people's trust, personal relationships, and civic and political involvement are connected to 
their use of social networking sites and other technologies", by Keith N. Hampton, Lau- 
ren Sessions Goulet, Lee Rainie and Kristen Purcell, June 16, 2011. 

53. Robin Dunbar, How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Dunbar's Number and Other 
Evolutionary Quirks (Harvard University Press, 2010), 21. 

54. Ibid., 22. 

55. Ibid. 

56. Ibid., 23. 
57 Ibid., 34. 

58. "The Socialized and Appified Oscars," Liz Cannes, The Wall Street Journal's All Things D, 
February 25, 2011 ( 

59. "The Oscars on Twitter: Over 1.2Million Tweets, 388K Users Tweeting,"by Alexia Tsotsis, 
Techcrunch, February 28, 2011 ( 

60. Steven Lukes, Individualism (Blackwell 1973), 21. 

61. "Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts," Jonathan Franzen, The New York Times, 
May 28, 2011. 

62. "Oscar Coronation for 'The King's Speech,'" Brooks Barnes and Michael Cieply, The 
New York Times, February 27, 2011 ( 
awardsseason/28oscars.html?adxnnl=l&pagewanted=print&adxnnlx=l 308428523 
-T2YIxoWp8UZNaTcv/lal PA). 


1. The movement had been founded at the Cower Street home of the parents of John Everett 
Millais, one of the most influential of Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood artists. Millais didn't 
participate in Rossetti's Oxford Union project. 

2. Richard Reeves, John Stuart Mill, 11. 

3. This term was coined by a fellow Benthamite, Henry Taylor. See: Reeves, John Stuart 
Mill, 52. 

4. John Stuart Mill, Autobiography, ch 5 (Riverside, 1969). 

5. Ibid. 

6. Ibid. 


7. John Dinwiddy, Bentham. 

8. J. S. Mill, On Liberty and Other Writings (Cambridge, 1989), 86. 

9. "Zuckerberg: Kids Under 13 Should Be Allowed on Facebook," Michael Lev-Ram,, May 20, 2011. 

10. New Yorker review of The Social Network. 

11. Jeffjarvis, What Would Google Do? {Co\VmsV>nsmc%s,lQlQ)9)A^. 

12. "Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism," Christine Rosen, The New Atlantis, Num- 
ber 17, 15. 

13. Ibid. 


15. Richard Reeves John Stuart Mill, 1 26. 

16. Philip Steadman, Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces 
(Oxford, 2001). 

17. Tracy Chevalier, Girl with a Pearl Earring (Harper Collins, 2000), 247. 

18. "Bin Laden Announcment Has Highest Sustained Tweet Rate Ever, at 3440 Tweets Per 
Second," by Alexia Tsotsis, Techcrunch, May 2, 2011 ( 

19. Richard Reewes John Stuart Mill, 15. 

20. Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archeology of the Human Sciences (Vintage, 
1973). 386-387. 


Abine Inc. 168 

Aboujaoude, Elias, 24-25, 62 

Absurdistan (Shteyngart), 144 

Academy Awards (2011), 176-79 

Accidental Billionaires (Mezrich), 176 

advertising, 35-37, 42, 62-63, 

Airtime, 38, 45, 47-48, 103, 150, 

Albert, Prince (United Kingdom), 123, 

129-40, 143, 146, 161-62, 178 
Albright, Julie, 48 
Allow, 168 

Alone Together {T\xA\t), 151 
Altimeter Group, 63 
Amazon, 26, 43, 82 
American Idol, 39 
Andersen, Kurt, 71-72 
Anderson, Chris, 75 
Andreessen, Mark, 35-36 
AngelList,43, 51 
Angwin, Julia, 80 
Anthony, Casey and Caylee, 53 
AOL, 62, 111 
apparatchik, 141-42, 144, 151, 152 

Apple,35,47, 107, 109, 168 

iCloud, 166 

iPhones. 40, 79, 81-83, 142, 153, 
165, 167 
Arab Spring movement, 51, 71-72 
Araf, Amina, 73 
Arendt, Hannah, 141 
Aristotle, 8, 197«33 
Arrington, Mike, 57, 169 
Arthur, King (Britain), 121, 124-26 
Asana, 43 

Asquith, Herbert, 123 
Assange, Julian, 23, 28, 55, 142, 163 
The Atlantic, 63 

Babbage, Charles, 93, 136 

Backes, Michael, 171 

Baker, Mitchell, 167 

Balliol,John, 8-9, 66 

Barber, Lionel, 162-63 

Bardeen,John, 94 

Barlow, John Perry, 108, 109, 112, 117 

Baudrillard,Jean, 14, 148 

Bebo, 174 

BeKnown,35,43, 150 

Bell, Alexander Graham, 107 



Bell, Daniel, 102 
Bentham, Jeremy, 131, 192 

architectural concepts of, 7, 13, 

19-24, 26-27, 29-30, 44-45, 


132-33, 140-44, 146. 148, 

150-51, 199«3 
Auto-Icon of, 1-4, 10-16, 18, 69, 

"greatest happiness principle" by, 

3, 11, 16,50,66, 182-84, 196«12 
utilitarianism of, 10-12, 16, 22, 27, 

50,61-64,91, 140-41, 180-82 
Bentham, Samuel, 19-20, 140-41 
Berners-Lee, Tim, 108, 122 
Bezos, JefF, 26-27 
Bhutto, Benazir, 123 
Bible, 43 

Bierstadt, Albert, 34-35, 84, 186 
Big Brother (show), 54 
Bilton, Nick, 170-71 
Bing, 38 

Bin Laden, Osama, 191 
Blackburn, William, 20, 146-47 
Blekko, 38 
Blippy, 169-70 
Blu, 44 

Boileau, Pierre, 16, 26 
Botsford, Rachel, 50 
Bowling Alone (Putna.m), 113, 117 
Brandeis, Louis, 7, 13, 16, 22, 162 
Brand, Stewart, 107 
Brattain, Walter, 94 
Brave New JVorU (Huxky), 1, 140 
Breakup Notifier app, 45 
Brechin, Gray, 87 
Brigham Young University, 67 
Brin, Sergey, 33 

Brooks, David, 25, 109, 114-15 
Brougham, Lord, 10 

Brown,JohnSeely,91, 106-7, 116, 119 

Bryson, Bill, 135, 40 

Burne-Jones, Edward, 125, 136 


Buzzd, 40 

Cafebot, 62 

Caine, Michael, 147 

Campbell, Keith, 24-25 

CapLinked, 42 

Capsule hotel, 150-51, 154, 160 

Carlyle, Thomas, 126 

Carr, David, 51 

Carr, Nicholas, 17, 81, 96 


Catherine the Great, 20, 79, 141 

Chatter, 39 

Cheapism, 42 

Cheever, Charlie, 32 

Chevalier, Tracy, 180, 190 

children, social media use by, 30-31, 

34. 43, 67, 166, 169 
Children's Online Privacy Protection 

Act (COPPA), 166 
Chime. in, 42 
Christakis, Nicholas, 118 
Churchill, Winston, 123 
CIA, 28-29 
CitiVille. 32 
Citizen Kane, 14 
Clementi, Tyler, 53-54, 56 
Clinton, Hillary, 23 
Club Penguin, 43 
Cognitive Surplus (Shirky), 117 
Cohan, William D., 60 
Colao, Vittorio, 167 
Color, 40 
The Communist Manifesto 

(Marx/Engels), 132 



ComScore, 31 


connectivity, social. See also social 
individual autonomy v., 16-21, 

loneliness and, 27-30, 38-39, 66-69 
unity and, 6-10, 61-64, 106-20 

Coward, Noel, 147 

Craig Connect, 42 

Craigslist, 54 

Creepy app, 45-46, 153 

Crystal Palace, London, 129-30, 
135-38, 143-44, 146 

Cult of the Amateur {Yittn), 17, 175 

Culture of Narcissism (Lasch), 103 

Curtis, Adam, 47, 104, 143 

Cyclometer app, 40, 156, 159 

Dailybooth, 40 

Daily Burn, 42 

The Daily Dot, ?> 

Daily Mail, 138 

D'Angelo, Adam, 32, 176 

Darkness at Noon (Koestler), 151 

Darwin, Charles, 115, 118, 180, 68 

Debord, Guy, 69 

des Cars, Laurence, 126 

Dewey, John, 63-64 

Dickens, Charles, 16 

Difference Engine, 93, 136 

DirecTV, 39 

Disney, 43, 166 

Ditto app, 41 

Doerr, John, 26-27, 36, 38, 48, 50 

Domino's Pizza, 41 

Do Not Track bill, 165 

Douthat, Ross, 25, 107 

Dow Jones VentureSource, 78 

Drucker, Peter, 110, 125, 130, 154 
Dunbar, Robin, 174-75, 177 
Dylan, Bob, 100 
Dyson, Ester, 109 

Economist, 155 
Eco, Umberto, 14, 148 
Edison, Thomas, 94 
Edward VII, (king of United 

Kingdom), 123-24, 129, 177-78 
Edward VIII, (king of United 

Kingdom), 178 
eEvent, 63 

Einstein, Albert, 123 
Ellison, Larry, 57 
Elowitz, Ben, 59-60 
"Emerald Wave," 84 
Empire Avenue, 62, 153 
Endomondo, 43-44 
Engels, Friedrich, 132-33 
Englebart, Douglas, 107 
European Union (EU), 166-67, 

Evans, Robin, 19 
eXelate, 78-79 

Facebook, 2-3, 9-10, 17, 33, 155. 

See also Zuckerberg, Mark 
age restriction by, 34, 166, 169 
egalitarianism and, 23-24, 62, 74-76 
founding of, 176-79, 185-86 
Frictionless Sharing by, 39, 59, 60, 

friendship concepts and, 173-75 
funding of/valuation of, 6, 27, 30, 

Google's competition with, 36, 38, 

intelligence v. stupidity and, 49-50, 




Facebook {continued) 

loneliness/isolation and, 27-30, 

Open-Graph on, 58-61, 63, 66, 77, 
83, 171 

privacy on, 23, 28-29, 40, 57-60, 
65-66, 76-80, 83, 118, 142, 156, 
163-64, 167-71 

regulation of, 163-64, 167 

revenue by, 76-80, 110, 168 

Shaker on, 43, 45 

social unity via, 61-64 

Timeline on, 60-61, 66 

usage/popularity of, 28, 30-31, 72, 
The Facebook Effect (Kirkpatrick), 112 
Fairchild Semiconductor, 95, 98, 100 
Fanning, Shawn, 38-39 
Farmer's Insurance, 41 
Farmville, 32 
Fast Company, 155 
Federal Trade Commission, 163-65 
Fertik, Michael, 77-78, 80, 168 
Fibit, 42 

The Filter Bubble (Pariser), 77 
Financial Times, 51, 59-60, 107, 155, 

Fincher, David, 27, 176 
Firefox, 38 

Fitzgerald, F. Scott, 86-87, 90, 62 
Flipboard, 40 
Florida, Richard, 96 
Foer, Joshua, 171-72 
Forbes, 5, 60 
Ford, 41 

Foreign Affairs, 73-74 
Fortune, 91 

Foucault. Michel, 20, 21, 76, 143, 145, 

foursquare, 23, 32, 40, 45, 48, 50, 56, 

Fowler, James, 118 

Franken,Al, 165-66 

Frank, Thomas, 109 

Franzen, Jonathan, 24-25, 103, 179, 

Frictionless Sharing, 39, 59, 60, 63, 65, 

Fried, Charles, 141 

Friedman, Benjamin, 137 

Friedman, George, 72-73 

Friedman, Thomas, 111 

friendship, concept of, 173-79 

Friendster, 6 

Fucked Company, 169-70 

Fundly, 42 

Future Shock (Toffler), 103 

Gabler, Neal, 24 

Gain Fitness, 42 

Galbraith, John Kenneth, 92 

Cannes, Liz, 59 

Gatorade, 41 

Gellner,Ernest, 139, 158 

GeneralEiectric,91, 110 

geo-location services, 23, 32, 40, 45, 48, 

50, 56-57, 103, 114-15, 118, 156, 

159, 164, 200«22 
on smartphones, 79, 81-83, 153, 165 
George V (king of United Kingdom), 

George VI (king of United Kingdom), 

Germany, nationalism in, 139-41, 171 
GetGlue, 39 
giantHello, 43 

Gibson, William, 149, 152, 154, 156 
Giggs, Ryan, 54-55, 162-63 
Ginsberg, Allen, 100 



Girl With a Pearl Earring (Chevalier), 

180, 190 
Gladwell, Malcolm, 70 
Glaser, Rob, 44-45 
Gleick,James, 76-77, 113 
Glow, 39 
Godin, Seth, 111 
Goldin,Ian, 124 
Goldman Sachs, 60 
Gombrich, E. H., 126 
Goodman, Paul, 101-2 
Google, 17, 31, 33, 57-58, 95, 155 

+, 2, 9-10, 17, 35, 36-37, 39, 156, 


Android phones by, 79, 81-83, 142, 
153, 165 

Emerald Sea campaign by, 34-35, 36 

Facebook's competition with, 36, 38, 

Gmail by, 37, 38 

IPO by, 6 

Latitude, 23 

Maps, 40 

privacy and, 164-65, 167-68, 170 

regulation of, 164-65, 167 

SPYW by, 37-38 

Street View app by, 77, 167 
Gordon, Bing, 27 
Gowalla, 40 

GratefulDead,98, 107, 112 
"Great Exhibition of the Works of 
Industry of all Nations," 129-37, 
The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald), 87 
Greenfield, Susan, 69, 114, 123 
Greplin, 38 
Grindr, 79 
Gross Happiness Index, 58, 182 

Grossman, Lev, 28 
GroupMe, 35, 39 
Groupon,31,35,42, 168 
Grubwithus, 42 
Guardian, 71, 171 
Gundotra, Vic, 34-37, 170 
Gutenberg Galaxies i}AcL\x\izn), 112 

Habermas, Jurgen, 52 

Hagel,John,91,106, 116, 119 

Halberstam, David, 92 


Hard Times (Dickens), 16 

Harkin, James, 107 

Harris, Josh, 149-55, 160, 190 

Harvard Business Review, 48 

Harvard Law Review, 7, 16, 162 

Hashable, 62, 153 

Hastings, Reed, 39 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 52 

Hearst, William Randolph, 14 

Heath, Edward, 123 

Helmore, Tom, 86 

Henry VIII (king of England), 116, 118 

Herrmann, Bernard, 92, 188 

Hey, Neighbor!, 42, 157 

A History of Private Life (Goulemont), 

Hitchcock, Alfred, 1, 16, 84-90, 98, 
181, 188, 192 

Hitchens, Christopher, 47 


Hobsbawn,Eric, 135, 183 

Hoffman, Reid (@quixotic), 5-8, 

12-13, 15, 17-18, 20, 26, 29-30, 
33, 35-36, 40, 44, 46, 48-50, 74, 
142, 145, 148, 150. 154, 155. 158, 
160, 168, 175-76, 191, 193 



Hooper, Tom, 178 

Horowitz, Bradley, 34-37, 38, 170 

The Hotlist, 23, 41, 44, 66 

Huffington, Arianna, 9, 1 11 

Hughes, Robert, 127 


Hutton. Will, 124 

Huxley, Aldous, 1, 19, 140 

Hyperpublic, 35, 43, 150 

149-50, 155-56, 160, 162-72, 
175-78, 190-93, 199«52, 227«12 
In the Plex (Levy), 37 
Into.Now, 39, 45, 66, 156, 159 
Introduction to the Principles of Morals 

and Legislation (Bentham), 131 
Jhe Italian Job, 147 
iTunes Ping network, 39 

IBM, 41, 110 
iCloud, 166 

individual autonomy and, 16-21, 

nation-state v. social-media, 6, 49, 

123, 138-40, 145, 154-60 
Idylls of the King (Tennyson), 1 26 
Ignore Everybody (MacLeod), 111 
ImageSocial, 40, 50 
The Independent, 171 
industrialage, 109-13, 183 

internationalism and, 130-42, 

The Information (Gleick), 113 
"Inside the Wale" (Orwell), 56 
Inspection-House design, 7, 13, 19-24, 

26-27, 29-30, 44-45, 61, 73, 

79-80, 83, 85, 133, 140-44, 146, 

148, 150-51, 199«3 
Instagram app, 32, 40, 50, 133, 156, 

159, 164 
Intel,95,98, 106, 155, 167 
IntelliProtect, 168 
Internet, 106-9. See also social media/ 

business infrastructure on, 38-39, 

Web 2.0 V. 3.0, 5, 17, 22, 24, 26-27, 

32-45, 48, 50-51, 53, 58-59, 62, 

James, Lebron, 55 

Jarvis, JefF, 26, 48, 52-57, 74, 101, 

Jenkins, Simon, 71 

Jobs, Steve, 107 
Johnson, Boris, 123 
Johnson, Paul, 126 
Johnson, Steven, 25, 80, 115, 118, 

149-50, 154 
Jumo, 42 


Kaplan, David, 94-95 

Kaplan, Philip, 169 

Karabell, Zachary, 75 

Keller, Bill, 173, 175, 179 

Kelly,Kevin,96, 107, 112, 115 

Kerouacjack, 100, 104, 108 

Kerry, John, 166 

Kewney, Guy, 26 

Kik, 39 

Kindle, 43, 82 

Jhe King's Speech, 178-79, 182 

Kirkpatrick, David, 6\,\y^ 

Kirn, Walter, 47-48, 54, 66, 71, 142, 

Kleiner Perkins, 27, 32, 35, 40, 62 
Klout,62,63,75, 119, 156 



Koestler, Arthur, 151 
Kred,62,63,75, 153 
Kristallnacht, 140 
Kuneva, Meglena, 76 
Kutcher, Ashton, 40 

Lanier, Jaron, 115 

Lasch, Christopher, 103 

Latakoo, 60 

Leadbeater, Charles, 166 

Leapman, Michael, 137 

Leary, Timothy, 100 

Lee, Christopher, 54-55 

Lee, Steve, 81 

Lehrer, Jonas, 50-51 

Leibowitz.Jon, 165 

Le Meur, Loic, 169 

"Let's Get Naked" (Jarvis), 52 

Letter to D'Alembert (Rousseau), 

Levy, Steven, 37 

Like Minded, 42 

Linchpin (Godin), 1 1 1 

Linkedln. 2, 5, 9-10, 17, 23-24, 35, 
IPO by, 6, 197«28 
Terms of Service for, 168 
user statistics for, 30, 33 

Linklider,J.C.R., 107 

Livejournal, 71 

The Living and the Dead 

(Boileau/Narcejac), 16, 26 

LivingSocial, 31, 35, 42, 50, 150 

Lockheed,91, 102, 110 

Logue, Lionel, 178-79 

London Guardian, 59 

London Independent, 48 

loneliness, 27-29. 38-39, 66-69 

Loopt, 40 

Loselt, 42 

MacLeod, Hugh, 111 
MacMaster, Tom, 73 
MacroWikinomics (Tapscott/ 

Williams), 49-50 
Malaysia Airline's MH Buddy, 40 
Malcolm X, 123 
Malmaison Group, 147-49 
Malone, Mike, 8, 94-95, 113. 122. 148 
Mamas and Papas, 97-98 
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit 

(Wilson), 92 
Manymoon. 43 
Mao. Chairman. 115-16, 119 
Marcuse, Herbert, 100-101, 102, 104, 

MarkofF,John,96, 107 
Marx,Karl, 100, 102, 105, 119, 

132-33, 142, 183 
McAdam, John Loudon, 183 
McCain, John, 166 
McGilligan, Patrick, 106 
McKenzie, Scott, 97-100 
McLuhan, Marshall, 49, 112-13, 

McNealy, Scott, 57-58 
Media6Degrees, 78-79 
MediaMath, 78-79 
Meebo, 38, 71 
MeMap app, 40. 164 
Meyer. Dick, 55. 109 
Meyer, Jean, 68 
Mezrich, Ben, 176 
Microsoft, 38, 41. 165 
Mill, John Stuart, 10-11, 132, 164 
individual autonomy and, 16, 21, 50, 

92, 182-85, 189-90, 192-93 
Mills, C.Wright, 92 



Miso, 39 

Mokrjoel, 130, 41 

Monterey Pop, 99 

Monterey Pop Festival, 97-100, 

Moonwalking with Einstein (Foer), 171 
Moore, Gordon, 94-96, 106, 155, 175 
Morales, Christian, 167 
More, Sir Thomas, 116, 127, 150 
Moritz, Mike, 35-36 
Morozov, Evgeny, 73-74 
Morris, Jan, 121-22, 127, 147 
Morris, William, 125, 77 
Mozilla Firefox, 38, 165. 167 
My Fav Food, 42. 156, 159, 164 
Myspace, 67, 174 

Napster, 39 

Narcejac, Thomas, 16, 26 

National Data Breach Law, 165 

Nations and Nationalism (Gellner), 139 

nation-state identity, 6, 49, 123, 

138-40, 145. 154-60 
The Net Delusion (Morozov), 73 
Netflix, 39 
New Atlantis, 25 
New Scientist, 82 
Newsweek, 94 
New Yorker, 70 
The New York Times, 5, 25, 33, 39, 

49-51, 53, 59-60, 68. 80-81, 83, 


173, 174 by, 40 
The Next Decade (Friedman), 72, 42, 67, 157, 172 
"The Night Watch" (Rembrandt), 


Nineteen Eighty-four (Orwell), 4, 21, 
37, 45-47, 56-57, 78-79, 141-42, 

Noonan, Peggy, 64, 86-87 

Noyce, Robert, 95, 106 

Obama, Barack, 156, 165 
Occupy Wail Street movement, 

One-Dimensional Man (Marcuse), 

100-101, 104 
The Onion, 28-29 
On Liberty (Mill), 21, 50. 132, 164, 

184, 192 
On the Road [Ktvou^c), 100, 104, 108 
Open-Graph, 58-61, 63, 65. 83, 171 
OpenStudy, 42 
O'Reilly, Tim, 142-43 
Origins of Totalitarianism (Arendt), 141 
Orwell, George, 4, 21, 37, 45-47, 


141-42, 151 
Out of Control (Kelly), 1 1 2 
Outside.In, 115 
Owyang, Jeremiah, 63 
Oxford Mai Hotel, 7-8, 20, 147-50, 

154, 160 
Oxford University, 174, 177 

Union Library in, 4-9, 121-29, 154, 

171. 178. 192 

Page, Larry, 36, 81, 155 
Pandora, 39, 79 

Panopticon, 20. See also Inspection- 
House design 
Pareto,Vilfredo,75, 123 
Pariser, Eli, 77 
Parker, Sean, 2, 12, 38-39, 42, 45, 57, 

130. 176. 193 
Path, 39, 169 



Paxton, Joseph, 135, 138, 143 
PeekYou, 35, 38, 44 
Peerlndex, 62, 75 
Pennebaker, D. A., 99 
personal data, 28-29, 142-43, 168. 
See also privacy 
destruction/erasing of, 167, 

as economic entity, 32-33, 62-63, 

facial-recognition apps and, 80-81, 

geo-location-related, 23, 32, 40, 45, 
165, 200^22 
legislation protecting, 162-67 
Personal Inc, 168 
Philips, John, 97-98 
Philo, 39 

Pincus, Mark, 6, 27, 29-30, 32, 49 
Pink, Daniel, 110-11 
Pinterest, 39 

Plancast,23,4l,48,66, 103, 156 
Politics, 8, 197«33 
"Politics and the English Language" 

(Orwell), 63 
Poniewozik, James, 55 
I Poynter, 59 

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 125-29, 
130, 133, 136, 180, 183, 186, 
Prince Albert V. Strange, 161-62, 178 
privacy, 7-8, 15-18, 44, 141. See also 
personal data 
businesses selling, 168-72 
data destruction and, 167, 171-72 
on Facebook, 23, 28-29, 40, 57-60, 
163-64, 167-71 

facial-recognition apps and, 80-81, 

geo-location services and, 23, 32, 40, 
45, 48, 50, 56-57, 79, 81-83, 103, 
165, 200«22 
legislation protecting, 161-67 
public experiments with, 149-52 
transparency v., 46-48, 52-69, 
"Privacy, Publicness & Penises" (Jarvis), 

Private Parts (Stern), 26 
Proust, 41, 149 

publicness, 52-64, 149-52, 154-60. 
See also privacy 
theses on, 26, IQlnAA 
Public Parts (Jarvis), 26, 116, 167 
Punch, 135 
Putin, Vladimir, 71 
Putnam, Robert, 113, 115, 117, 126 

"Quiet: We Live in Public" project, 

150-51, 154, 160 
Quota, 32, 44, 176 

Raban, Jonathan, 4 

RadiumOne, 42 

Ramo, Joshua Cooper, 71 

Rapportive, 38 

Ravi, Dharan, 53 

Reagan, Ronald, 123 

RealNetworks, 44 

Reding, Viviane, 167, 171 

Reeves, Richard, 183 

Rembrandt van Rijn, 4, 66, 186-88, 

Renaissance period, 49, 65-66, 127, 168 

INDEX, 77, 80, 168 

Research In Motion (RIM), 2-3, 15 

Rethink Books, 43 

Rhapsody, 59 

Rheingold, Howard, 26 

"The Right to Privacy" (Warren/ 

Brandeis), 7, 16, 162 
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 3, 12, 

The Rise and Fall of Elites (Pareto), 75 
Roberts, Bryce, 51 
Rock, Arthur, 95 
Rockefeller, John D., 165-66, 169 
Rockmelt, 38 
Rogers, Roo, 50 
Rolphe, Katie, 23 
Rosedale, Philip, 8, 69, 122-25. 

127-29, 142, 148, 151, 175 
Rosen, Christine, 25, 62, 187-89 
Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 121, 125-28 
Roszak, Theodore, 101-2 
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 101-2, 116-17 
RushkofF, Douglas, 77-79 
Ruskin,John, 127, 136, 138 
Russell, Lord John, 129, 132-33 
Russia, nationalism in, 141-42 
Rypple, 39, 44 

Saarland University (Germany), 171 
Sacca, Chris, 8, 35-36, 122, 148 
Safety Web, 168 
Salesforce, 41 
Sandberg, Sheryl, 57, 61 
Sanders, Jerry, 9 
"San Francisco" (song), 97-100 
San Francisco, culture of, 84-105 
San Francisco Magazine, 5 
San Francisco Oracle, 99 
San Francisco Scientific, 9 
Sarkozy, Nicolas, 163 

The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne), 52 
Schama, Simon, 187 
Schmidt, Eric, 57-58, 70, 88, 163-64 
Schumpeter, Joseph, 96, 111 
Scoble, Robert (@scobleizer), 28, 57, 


174, 190 
Scorcese, Martin, 84 
Scott, Ridley, 47 
Second Life, 8, 69, 119, 123-25. 128. 

Sennett, Richard, 101, 102, 159 
Shaker, 43. 45, 47 
Shirky, Clay, 22-24, 70, 107, 115, 

Shockley, William, 94 
ShopSocially, 42 
ShoutFlow, 42 
Showyou, 38 
Shteyngart, Gary, 144, 152-54, 

Siegler, MG, 36 
Silicon Valley, 4-9, 27-28, 84, 90-97, 

106-7, 112-13, 119, 155. 221«17 
"Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford" 

conference, 4-9. 121-29, 145-49, 

Simmel, Georg, 4, 21, 177 
Simpson, Wallis, 178 
Sina Weiba, 25, 74 
Singer, Natasha, 83, 168 
Skype,35,39,4l,53-54, 168 
smartphones, 2-3, 11-12, 14-15, 18, 

22, 24, 40, 70-71, 122-23, 142, 

153, 199«53 
geo-location reporting by, 79, 81-83, 

153, 165 
Smith. Zadie, 27. 79. 184-85. 190, 45-46, 118, 153 



Snyder, Gary, 100 

The Social Animal (Brooks), 115 

Social Bakers, 43 

Socialcam, 35, 38, 50, 66 

Socialcast, 35 

SocialEyes, 35, 38, 44-45, 47-48, 50, 

66, 170 
SocialFlow, 35 
Social Intelligence, 33 
social media/networking. See also 
personal data; privacy 
advertising revenue and, 35-37, 42, 

architecture, contemporary, of, 

businesses evolving towards, 35-45 
civil unrest and, 70-74 
connectivity principle in, 6-10, 
61-64,91-92, 106-20, 180-93 
consumer literacy regarding, 167-68 
economic influences of, 27, 33, 42, 

egalitarianism and, 23-24, 48, 62, 

friendship concept and, 173-79 
identity perceptions and, 6, 16-21, 
49-52, 91-92, 123, 138-40, 145, 
154-60, 180-93 
integrity and, 49, 53-56, 61 
intelligence v. stupidity resulting 

from, 48-56, 61-64, 66, 69 
by kids/teens, 30-31, 34, 43, 67, 166, 

loneliness and, 27-29, 38-39, 66-69 
narcissism enabled by, 24-25, 115, 

regulation of, 161-67 
technological v. sociological 
influences on, 106-20, 184 

unity as goal of, 6-10, 52-69, 

SocialNet, 6 
The Social Network, 2, 12, 27, 42, 64, 

109, 130, 176-79 
SocialSmack, 43 
Social Workout, 42 
Society of the Spectacle (Debord), 69 
Sonar, 40, 44 
Sorkin, Aaron, 64, 176 
Soundcloud, 39 
Soundtracking, 39 
South By Southwest conference, 52 
Spotify, 59, 171 
SproutSocial, 35 
Stalin, Joseph, 141, 143 
Starr, Kevin, 87 
Steadman, Philip, 189 
Stelter, Brian, 50 
Stern, Howard, 26 
Stewart, Jimmy, 86, 88 
Stone, Biz, 8-9, 11, 12, 17, 29, 31, 50, 

Strange, William, 161-62 
Strauss, Neil, 24-25, 50 
Sullivan, Andrew, 111, 123 
Sullivan, Bob, 165 
Sullivan, Paul, 171, 174 
Summer of Love/counterculture, 

Super Sad True Love Story (Shteyngart), 

Suster, Mark, 51 
Swanson, Larry, 114 

Tapscott, Don, 49-50, 54, 65, 99, 101, 

Taylor, Bret, 169 
Taylor, Frederick Winslow, 91 



Techcrunch, 36, 43, 57, 72-73, 111, 

142, 152, 156, 159, 169-70 
technology, 22 

culture influenced by, 93-96, 106-9, 

113-20, 130-42, 184, 221«25, 

economic shifts related to, 109-13, 

116-19, 184 
internationalism and, 130-42, 

Tencent, 74 

Tennyson, Alfred, 126-27, 130 
TextPlus, 79 
Thaler, Richard, 166 
Thatcher, Margaret, 123 
Thiel, Peter, 176 
33Across, 78-79 
Thomas, Imogen, 54-55 
Thompson, Richard, 114 
Timberlake, Justin, 2 
Timeline, Facebook, 60-61, 66 
Time magazine, 27-28, 53, 55, 71, 75, 

Timoner, Ondi, 151-52 
Tocqueville, Alexis de, 21, 70 
Toffler, Alvin, 103 
Togetherville, 35, 43, 44. 166 
Topix, 52 
Tout, 38 

transistor, invention of, 93-96 
Tresch, John, 119 
T^f 7r/W(Kafka),21,76, 6 
Tripit, 40, 66, 156, 159 
TrufFaut, Francois, 88 
The Truman Show, 16, 30, 115. 150, 

TRUSTe. 168 
Tsotsis, Alexia, 169-70 
Tucker, Catherine. 78 


Turkic, Sherry, 67-70, 83, 103, 119. 151 
Turner, Fred, 107-8 
Twenge, Jean, 24-25 
Twitter, 2-3, 5, 11. 12-15, 17, 79-80, 
intelligence and, 50, 54-56 
privacy/isolation and. 29. 67, 70-74 
regulation of, 163-64 
social value and, 23-25, 62, 74-75, 

155-56, 227«20 
users/popularity of, 8-9, 30-32, 72. 

114-15, 173, 176 
value/funding of, 9, 35-36, 198«37 

Understanding Media (McLuhan), 112 
unity, social 

debate on, 4-9, 121-29, 145-49, 154 
historical attempts at. 129-42 
via social media, 6-10, 52-74. 

transparency's impact on. 52-69, 
121-44. 149-52 
University College. London, 1-4. 

10-16, 180 
University of Michigan, 67 
University of Southern California, 

University of Twente (Netherlands), 172 
University of Vermont, 67 
utilitarianism, 10-12, 16-17, 22, 27, 
180-82, 198«45 
t^o/>/^(More), 116, 150 

Vamosi, Robert, 81 
van Heerde, Harold, 172 
Vaynerchuk. Gary, 111 
Vermeer, Johannes, 4, 66, 186. 188-90, 


Vermeer's Camera (Steadman), 189 
Vertigo (movie), ix, 1, 16, 84-90, 98, 


Vertigo (Sebald), ix 
"Vertigo" (song), ix 
Victoria, Queen (United Kingdom), 

123, 129, 135-36, 161-62, 178 
Virtually You (Aboujaoude), 24 
Vkontakte, 71 

The Wall Street Journal, 5, 27, 33, 


Wanderfly, 40 
Wang Gongquan, 25 
Wang Qin, 25 

Warren, Samuel, 7, 13, 16, 22, 162 
Washington Post, \62, 171 
Watt, James, 94 
Wazeapp,40,66, 156, 159 
Weather Channel, 79 
Weinberger, David, 52 
Weiner, Anthony, 54-55 
Weir, Peter, 150, 159 
We Live in Public, 151, 152, 153, 154 
Wells, Orson, 14 
Werd, Ben, 59 
We The Media (Gillmor), 82 
What's Mine Is Yours (Botsford/ 

Rogers), 50 
Where Good Ideas Come From 

(Johnson), 115 
Wherel', 57, 81, 56-57 
Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link, 26, 107 
the Who, 98, 103-4 app, 56-57 

Whyte, William H., 91-92 

Why We Hate Us (Meyer), 55 

Wiener, Norbert, 112 

WikiLeaks, 23, 55, 163 

Wikipedia, 17 

Williams, Anthony D., 49-50, 65 

Wilson,A.N., 126, 133 

Wilson, Sloan. 92, 111 

Winfrey, Oprah, 40 

Wired, 50, 75, 107 

"Woman in Blue Reading a Letter" 

(Vermeer), 188-90, 191-92 
Woodward, Benjamin, 121-22, 124, 

126-27, 129, 135, 178, 192 
Wordsworth, William, 126 
World Economic Forum, 33 
The World for a Shilling (Leapman), 

Wortham,Jenna,60, 169 
Wozniak, Steve, 107 
Wu, Tim, 107-8 

JheX-Factor, 39 

Xobni, 38 

X-Pire software, 171 

Yahoo!, 35 

Yammer, 39 

Yatown, 42, 67, 157 

Yobongo, 39 

YouCeleb, 24 

YouGov, 83 

YouTube, 17, 35, 37, 39, 59 

Zak, Paul, 114 
Zenergo, 42 
Zimmer, Ben, 63 
Zittrain, Jonathan, 60 
Zizek, Slavoj, 166 
ZubofF, Shoshana, 109 



Zuckerberg, Mark, 83, 155. See also 

Facebook's founding and, 176-77, 

Gross Happiness Index by, 58, 182 
privacy concerns and, 58-60, 163, 

166-67, 171 

social connectivity theories of, 
142, 146, 184 

Zukin, Sharon, 78 

Zynga, 6, 27, 30, 32, 35. 42, 168. 

andrew keen. 

author of th 

Valley entrepreneur \n 
in The Wall Street Joi 

lateur, is a Silicon 
riting has appeared 
le New York Times, 

The Economist, and Wired. As the founder and 
CEO of, Andr'^-' "--^^ ■- — *'^'^*'"' 
in many magazines, inch 
2.0, and Fast Company. He is currently the host 

. . ir show Keen On, a regul 
columnist for CNN, and a celebrated oublic 


Contact andrew keen at www 
follow him on Twitter at @ 

St. martin's press 

advance praise for #digitalvertigo 

'A bracing read. From Hitchcock to IVIark Zuckerberg and the politics of privacy, a 
savvy observer of contemporary digital culture reframes current debates in a way 
that clarifies and enlightens." —Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together 

"Andrew Keen is that rarest of authors: one who has taken the time to understand 
the benefits of technological innovation before warning us of its risks. In Digital 
Vertigo, Keen finds himself in a dizzying world where it is not just possible to share 
every detail of our professional and private lives, but actually expected. While a 
growing number of his friends— including those in the upper echelons of Silicon 
Valley society— preach the gospel of total transparency and cyber-oversharing, he 
refuses to blindly click the 'accept' button. A vital and timely book that's terrifying, 
fascinating, persuasive, and reassuring all at the same time." 

— Paul Carr, author of Bringing Nothing to the Party and The Upgrade 

'In this timely and important book, Andrew Keen once again thinks one step ahead 
of social media pioneers, posing questions they will need to answer or risk facing 
a digital uprising. Equal parts philosophical and informative. Digital Vertigo brings 
us back to nineteenth-century debates that have an eerie relevance to today's 
technological dilemmas, while also laying out the latest corporate strategies being 
deployed to decipher and commercialize your most intimate thoughts. Better 
than any other multimedia expert, Keen challenges the false promise of the virtue 
of sharing." 

— Parag Khanna, director of the Hybrid Reality Institute and author of 

How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance 

'Unlike most commentators, Andrew Keen observes the Internet as if from a 

^ ■ )f the few books on the subject that, twenty 

years from now, will be seen to have gotten it right. Neither blinkered advocate 
nor hardened cynic, he identifies the good and the bad with a rare human and 
historical perspective." —Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP 

ISBN ^73- 

52599 >