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Stand out of our Light
Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy


  • Date Published: May 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108452991

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Powerfully argues for the reclamation of individual agency and freedom in a world where our attention is vied over by tech companies
    • Presents a combination of technological and philosophical insight into the implications of the burgeoning 'attention economy'
    • Authored by the inaugural winner of the Nine Dots Prize, a new, biannual prize for creative thinking that tackles contemporary social issues
    • This title is also available as Open Access
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '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.' 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.' The New York Times

    'Stand Out of Our Light is a prime example of philosophy at its most illuminating.' Achas Burin, Balliol College Annual Record 2018

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108452991
    • length: 144 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 9 mm
    • weight: 0.26kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Philosophy for trolls
    Part I. Distraction by Design:
    2. The faulty GPS
    3. The age of attention
    4. Bring your own boundaries
    5. Empires of the mind
    Part II. Clicks against Humanity:
    6. The citizen is the product
    7. The spotlight
    8. The starlight
    9. The daylight
    Part III. Freedom of Attention:
    10. The ground of first struggle
    11. The monster and the bank
    12. Marginal people on marginal time
    13. The brightest heaven of invention.

  • Author

    James Williams, University of Oxford
    James Williams is currently a doctoral candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute and Balliol College, University of Oxford, where he researches the philosophy and ethics of attention and persuasion as they relate to technology design. Prior to that he worked for over ten years at Google, where he received the Founders' Award - the company's highest honour - for his work on advertising products and tools.

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