Thanks for sharing this perspective. I see what you mean on how things seemed to be presented in a more confrontational manner. Out of curiosity I referred back to the pages where Zuboff cited your work and then spent some time checking out your Google Scholar page. From my perspective it seems like your work focuses on describing what it is going on with big data from a civically minded perspective. For example, the recent article about the effect of algorithms on polarization and democracy actually seems in line with the type of work Zuboff would want to see being done.
I think Zuboff’s argument can be summarized as a concern about digital literacy and the division of learning in society. I view Zuboff’s claims that your work “confirms the privileged position of the surveillance capitalists” (p. 188) as a complaint about digital literacy. She seems concerned that only the “priestly class of data scientists” (Zuboff’s term) can access the data sets that your work engages with. As she argues against the division of learning in society it seems that anyone, even “simple academics” like you, who find themselves on the learned sign of the divide got grouped in as part of the problem, even if you might be working to bring awareness to some of the problems in which she’s concerned.
In regards to the way Zuboff dismisses the benefits of big data and technology, it seems that Zuboff kind of uses the Idiocracy argument. Yes, we have access to lots of information and powerful technologies, but the tech companies have leveraged behavioral science to such an extent it has turned us into automatons. She suggests that we aren’t really happy, we aren’t really free. Zuboff refers to this as tech companies seizing our “will to will.” The best rebuttal to Zuboff’s argument is the existence of her book. If technology has over taken our will to will, how did she write a book that defies the desires of tech companies? How did she get interviews with big data insiders? As an author it seems that she forgot about the “me in the we.” Zuboff is certainly a talented writer and thinker, but I don’t believe that she is the only human that has been able to wiggle out of the surveillance capitalist system. If she can do it, lots of other people are probably doing it too, and thus the problems she describes might not be as all encompassing as she suggests. If the “me” of the author can be outside of the effects outlined in the book maybe the “we” of the audience can be outside the effects as well.