Humane Technology reading lists



Let’s humanize the tech gurus, not deify them.


Hi @patm! I read this article also… there was a nice discussion on Hacker News (the discussion platform targeted mostly to Silicon Valley techies) about it:


Thanks! I love to read comments too, and these look good.


An interesting article in Democracy Journal:

Digital Capitalism’s War on Leisure

Market forces are invading the space for leisure. Defending it will require nothing less than a return to robust twentieth-century social democracy.

Last July, a paper by Mark Aguiar et al. made waves by attributing 23-46 percent of the 12 percent decline in work hours among predominantly low-skill males aged 21-30 to improvements in video-gaming technology. […] what if it misses a larger point about the changing patterns of work and leisure?

article link | hacker news discussion

The article deals with technology trends that are behind this, the consequences that result from this, and then goes on looking for solutions to the problems that were stated, citing many different papers.


This is brilliant :smiley:



I just got to read the article of Dan Hon that got posted here a while ago. Great read. I was linked to it through an announcement of the „next reddit“. I haven’t seen anything about Tildes on here yet, so maybe this is also interesting:


“Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy” by James Williams is possibly one of the most beautifully written books on distraction, persuasion and the damaging impact advertising-driven tech has on us as individuals and society. There is something really quite transformative and affecting about it.

You can even it read it for free here:


Thank you for that recommendation, @Sharmin! I hope you share what you learn from the book in the relevant discussions on this forum!


How your data is acquired, analysed and used to influence you in political campaigns

Why we need to understand the tools and techniques of the political data industry

Our research over the last 18 months has identified more than forty distinct methods, of which micro-targeting is only one part of, being used by political actors and private companies to influence your votes, based on data collected on you. Here, we give an overview of the kinds of techniques used by the political influence industry, how they are being deployed, by whom and to what ends.


Excerpt from the article:

There is something rather precious about Google employees, and Internet users, who earnestly believe the “don’t be evil” line. Though those three words have often been taken to represent a sort of ethos, their primary function is as a steam vent – providing a useful way to allow building pressure to escape before it can become explosive. While “don’t be evil” is associated with Google, most of the giants of Silicon Valley have their own variations of this comforting ideological façade: Apple’s “think different,” Facebook’s talk of “connecting the world,” the smiles on the side of Amazon boxes. And when a revelation troubles this carefully constructed exterior – when it turns out Google is involved in building military drones, when it turns out that Amazon is making facial recognition software for the police – people react in shock and outrage. How could this company do this?!?

What these revelations challenge is not simply the mythos surrounding particular tech companies, but the mythos surrounding the tech industry itself.


Thus, cases of Google building military drones, Facebook watching us all, and Amazon making facial recognition software for the police, need to be understood not as aberrations. Rather, they are business as usual.


Surveillance Valley is a troubling book, but it is an important book. It smashes comforting myths and refuses to leave its readers with simple solutions. What it demonstrates in stark relief is that surveillance and unnerving links to the military-industrial complex are not signs that the Internet has gone awry, but signs that the Internet is functioning as intended.


@aschrijver great validation of the times though sad. Living near Silicon Valley I saw our economy wasn’t driven by what our world needs, but by venture/Angel investor funding. It’s this battle between people with great ideas and giving up their companies to venture funding. Most venture funders won’t fund unless they get a certain percentage of the company-eventually the original idea goes away and it’s all about something else. This dynamic drove employment ups and downs for years and years in the Bay Area…


I’m just starting it. Seems a compelling essay about the challenges of attention economy.
I expect finishing this week to comment more.


A great article, and probably a very fine book :slight_smile:


Soft spot for this one because it’s mine. Quote Tristan right off the bat in How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-DesignHTBADH%20FRONT%20COVER%20448%20x%20336.


@Sharmin, I logged on to thank you for recommending this book. I’m reading it now, and finding it so powerful and important. I’ve already shared it with two people with whom I discuss these ideas and phenomena regularly. Thank you so much - I hope others on this forum with read William’s book as well.


Another scientific paper on echo chambers that makes clear distinction between:

  • echo chambers - members have been brought to systematically distrust all outside sources
  • epistemic bubbles - other relevant voices have been left out, perhaps accidentally


Found via HN here

(add cross-link to prior post)


Google Data Collection Practices analysed

The following PDF document (55 pages) contains detailed analysis of data collection practices of Google:

This research paper was created by Professor Douglas C. Schmidt, Vanderbilt University, August 15 2018

From the Executive Summary:

Google collects user data in a variety of ways. The most obvious are “ active , ” with the user directly and consciously communicating information to Google , as for example by signing in to any of its widely used applications such as YouTube, Gmail, Search etc . Less obvious way s for Google to collect data are “passive” means, whereby an application is instrumented to gather information while it’s running, possibly without the use r’s knowledge. Google’s passive data gathering methods arise from platform s ( e.g. Android and Chrome) , applications (e.g. Search, YouTube, Map s), publisher tools ( e.g. Google Analytics, AdSense) and advertiser tools ( e.g. AdMob, AdWords). The extent and magnitude of Google’s passive data collection has largely been overlooked by past studies on this topic.



I posted before how YouTube’s algorithm leads you to ever worse, more fringe content, because the AI knows that’ll make you spend more time on the platform.

This article has some ideas and references on ways to improve this: