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Stand out of our Light
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Book description

Former Google advertising strategist, now Oxford-trained philosopher James Williams launches a plea to society and to the tech industry to help ensure that the technology we all carry with us every day does not distract us from pursuing our true goals in life. As information becomes ever more plentiful, the resource that is becoming more scarce is our attention. In this 'attention economy', we need to recognise the fundamental impacts of our new information environment on our lives in order to take back control. Drawing on insights ranging from Diogenes to contemporary tech leaders, Williams's thoughtful and impassioned analysis is sure to provoke discussion and debate. Williams is the inaugural winner of the Nine Dots Prize, a new Prize for creative thinking that tackles contemporary social issues. This title is also available as Open Access.


‘A very insightful and perceptive analysis of one of the crucial issues of our age: how we spend our time in the infosphere. It will be the starting point for anyone who wishes to create a better future.'

Luciano Floridi - University of Oxford

‘In the Arab Spring, technology helped us topple a dictator - and then it tore us apart. The competition for attention poses a fundamental problem for today's society, and no one has gone deeper into this issue than James Williams. If you care about the future of society, pay attention to this book.’

Wael Ghonim - internet activist

'Passionate, provocative, personal and funny! Drawing on philosophy and video games, ancient literature and current science, Stand out of our Light helps us to see what's currently happening to the human experience and how we can take back control.'

David Runciman - University of Cambridge

'On the contemporary attention crisis, there is no writer who has thought deeper on it than Williams. His pivotal insight is the recognition that attention is the fuel of our lives, the ingredient essential to any self-chosen goal. Reading this refreshing and rejuvenating book will make you think hard about how life should be lived.'

Tim Wu - Columbia University, New York

‘A landmark book.’

Source: The Observer

'Mr Williams compares the current design of our technology to 'an entire army of jets and tanks' aimed at capturing and keeping our attention. And the army is winning. We spend the day transfixed by our screens, thumb twitching in the subways and elevators, glancing at traffic lights.'

Source: The New York Times

'Stand Out of Our Light is a prime example of philosophy at its most illuminating.'

Achas Burin Source: Balliol College Annual Record 2018

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Full book PDF
  • Stand Out of Our Light
    pp i-ii
  • Stand Out of Our Light - Title page
    pp iii-iii
  • Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy
  • Copyright page
    pp iv-iv
  • Dedication
    pp v-vi
  • Epigraph
    pp vii-viii
  • Contents
    pp ix-x
  • Preface
    pp xi-xiii
  • About the Nine Dots Prize
    pp xiv-xvi
  • 1 - Philosophy for Trolls
    pp 1-4
  • I - Distraction by Design
    pp 5-40
  • 2 - The Faulty GPS
    pp 7-11
  • 3 - The Age of Attention
    pp 12-16
  • 4 - Bring your own Boundaries
    pp 17-25
  • 5 - Empires of the Mind
    pp 26-40
  • II - Clicks against Humanity
    pp 41-84
  • 6 - The Citizen is the Product
    pp 43-49
  • 7 - The Spotlight
    pp 50-54
  • 8 - The Starlight
    pp 55-67
  • 9 - The Daylight
    pp 68-84
  • III - Freedom of Attention
    pp 85-128
  • 10 - The Ground of First Struggle
    pp 87-96
  • 11 - The Monster and the Bank
    pp 97-105
  • 12 - Marginal People on Marginal Time
    pp 106-124
  • 13 - The Brightest Heaven of Invention
    pp 125-128
  • Acknowledgments
    pp 129-130
  • Further Reading
    pp 131-131
  • Index
    pp 132-134


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