Always On: Hope and Fear in the Social Smartphone Era
Always On immerses the reader in the most important story of our times – the dramatic impact of hyperconnectivity, the smartphone and social media on everything from our democracy to our employment and our health. The final section of the book draws on the author’s own personal experience with technology and medicine, considering how COVID-19 made us look again to computing in our battle to confront the greatest challenge of modern times.
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We live at a time when billions have access to unbelievably powerful technology. The most extraordinary tool that has been invented in the last century, the smartphone, is forcing radical changes in the way we live and work – and unlike previous technologies it is in the hands of just about everyone.
Coupled with the rise of social media, this has ushered in a new era of deeply personal technology, where individuals now have the ability to work, create and communicate on their own terms, rather than wait for permission from giant corporations or governments. At least that is the optimistic view.
This book takes readers on an entertaining ride through this turbulent era, as related by an author with a ringside seat to the key moments of the technology revolution. We remember the excitement and wonder that came with the arrival of Apple’s iPhone with all the promise it offered. We see tech empires rise and fall as these devices send shockwaves through every industry and leave the corporate titans of the analogue era floundering in their wake. We see that early utopianism about the potential of the mobile social revolution to transform society for the better fade, as criminals, bullies and predators poison the well of social media. And we hear from those at the forefront of the tech revolution, including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Tim Berners-Lee, Martha Lane-Fox and Jimmy Wales, to gain their unique insights and predictions for what may be to come.