”Discussions about the contemporary online world are often in a one-dimensional manner shaped by moral panics about online trolling, cyberbullying, cybercrime, terrorists online, etc. The associated right-wing extremist agenda for Internet politics is about control, surveillance and censorship. Vince Miller’s book questions this agenda and is an excellent work for understanding how to use philosophical thought for the analysis of ethics, privacy and disclosure in this turbulent world of the Internet in the information society. It shows how to come to grips with the contested relationship between online freedom and control.“ - Christian Fuchs, University of Westminster, Author of Social Media: A Critical Introduction By investigating three issues which have captured the public imagination as ‘problems’ emerging directly from the contemporary use of communications technology (anti-social behaviour, privacy and free speech online), Vincent Miller explores how the digital revolution is challenging our notion of ‘self’ and ‘presence’. Through a critical and philosophical examination of each of these cases, he argues that they have at their root the same phenomena: ‘a crisis of presence’. Focussing on the concept of presence, and the challenges that our changing presence poses to our ethics, privacy and public discourse, Miller illustrates how ubiquitous communication technologies have created a disjuncture between how we think we exist in the world and how we actually do exist through our use of such devices. The solution, he claims, is not to focus exclusively on ‘content’ and its regulation as much as it is to examine, understand and resist the alienating aspects of the media itself, such as the technological ordering, metaphysical abstraction and mediation which increasingly define our social encounters and presences. He suggests that such resistance involves several ambitious revisions in our ethical, legal and technological regimes.
I started my academic career as an urban geographer. So when I think about this period of change in social life and human communications and some of the issues and problems that are confronting people immersed in this developing digital culture today, issues such as the right to privacy and the fear of surveillance, the question of ethical, exploitative or abusive interpersonal behaviour online, or the ability to speak freely, I tend to see some (perhaps tenuous) parallels to the age of urbanisation which occurred throughout the 18th century and into the early 19th century.
As we know, during that period, the great industrial and commercial cities of Britain, Germany, France, Belgium and the United States were born as people streamed into newly established cities ...