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The costs of connection : How data is colonizing human life and appropriating it for capitalism

Author: Nick Couldry; Ulises A Mejias
Publisher: Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press, 2019
Series: Culture and economic life
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Just about any social need is now met with an opportunity to "connect" through digital means. But this convenience is not free-it is purchased with vast amounts of personal data transferred through shadowy backchannels to corporations using it to generate profit. The Costs of Connection uncovers this process, this "data colonialism," and its designs for controlling our lives-our ways of knowing; our means of  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Nick Couldry; Ulises A Mejias
ISBN: 9781503609747 150360974X 9781503609754 1503609758 9781503603660 1503603660
OCLC Number: 1135348399
Notes: Contents and Abstracts Preface: Colonized by Data chapter abstract This chapter draws readers into the argument by asking: How can it be that there is something "colonial" about the everyday relations we have with apps and other devices that want our data? The basic feature of today's data colonialism is explained: the appropriation, not of physical territory but of human life itself, through data extraction. The double nature of the book's argument is laid out, an argument about a new and shocking colonialism, close to home, and the social and economic order that colonialism builds for capitalism. This double argument helps us see the true time scale of what is happening with data: less a new capitalism than a new phase in the five-hundred-year history of colonialism's intertwining with capitalism.
Other key terms of the book's argument are introduced, including the dubbing of data corporations and platforms as the "social quantification sector." 1 The Capitalization of Life without Limit chapter abstractThe key moves on which the book's argument centers are explained in this chapter. Historic colonialism meant four things: (1) appropriation of resources, (2) unequal social relations, (3) unequal distribution of economic benefits, and (4) "colonial" ideologies that attempted to justify all this. These four features persist in data colonialism through the ideology of connection. But the emerging order has a distinctive geography, both external and internal and led by both the West and the East. New data relations commit human beings to continuous extraction, but the origin of this new order goes far beyond social media and can be traced to a principle already found in logistics and the management of supply chains.
Interlude: On Colonialism and the Decolonial Turn chapter abstract For readers unfamiliar with the history of colonialism, this chapter provides a free-of-jargon overview of its political and economic development. The chapter begins by tracing the roots of colonialism to the arrival of Europeans in America, and it distinguishes between earlier forms of imperialism and European colonialism. Colonialism is described as a set of practices and ideologies that created violent systems for exploiting and oppressing colonized environments and peoples and that eventually made possible the emergence of industrial capitalism. These systems included modes of representing the colonizer and colonized and of organizing the production of knowledge. Postcolonialism and decoloniality are explained as the two key responses to that legacy.
These responses, especially the more recent notion of decoloniality, not only question the "natural" colonial order but try to imagine alternative ways of life that reject capitalism and colonialism as universal and exclusive models for organizing humanity. 3 The Coloniality of Data Relations chapter abstractIf data colonialism works by appropriating social resources, it can be fully understood only in a historical perspective that
Description: 323 s.
Contents: The book's differences from other prominent critiques of capitalism are also explained. 2 Cloud Empire chapter abstract The focus of this chapter is the way the social quantification sector has organized an extractive infrastructure, and the way this infrastructure is being naturalized and extended across all social domains in a totalizing model referred to as the Cloud Empire. A discussion of how the Cloud Empire came to be and how it works is presented: apps, platforms, and smart technologies capture and translate our life into data; artificial intelligence algorithms then pore over the data to extract information that can be used to sell us our lives back, albeit in commodified form. The major and minor players that comprise the social quantification sector are analyzed in the context of the dual poles of the new empire: the United States and China. Finally, the chapter considers the implications for how the Cloud Empire is shaping the economy and the workplace.
Series Title: Culture and economic life

Abstract:

Just about any social need is now met with an opportunity to "connect" through digital means. But this convenience is not free-it is purchased with vast amounts of personal data transferred through shadowy backchannels to corporations using it to generate profit. The Costs of Connection uncovers this process, this "data colonialism," and its designs for controlling our lives-our ways of knowing; our means of production; our political participation. Colonialism might seem like a thing of the past, but this book shows that the historic appropriation of land, bodies, and natural resources is mirrored today in this new era of pervasive datafication. Apps, platforms, and smart objects capture and translate our lives into data, and then extract information that is fed into capitalist enterprises and sold back to us. The authors argue that this development foreshadows the creation of a new social order emerging globally-and it must be challenged. Confronting the alarming degree of surveillance already tolerated, they offer a stirring call to decolonize the internet and emancipate our desire for connection.

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