SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 2015WINNER OF THE JERWOOD PRIZEWe spend more time than ever online, and the digital revolution is rewiring our sense of what it means to be human.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 2015
WINNER OF THE JERWOOD PRIZE
We spend more time than ever online, and the digital revolution is rewiring our sense of what it means to be human. Smartphones let us live in one another's pockets, while websites advertise our spare rooms all across the world. Never before have we been so connected. Increasingly we are coaxed from the three-dimensional world around us and into the wonders of a fourth dimension, a world of digitised experiences in which we can project our idealised selves.
But what does it feel like to live in constant connectivity? What new pleases and anxieties are emerging with our exposure to this networked world? How is the relationship to our bodies changing as we head deeper into digital life? Most importantly, how do we exist in public with these recoded inner lives, and how do we preserve our old ideas of isolation, disappearance and privacy on a Google-mapped planet?
Laurence Scott's book The Four-Dimensional Human- Ways of Being in the Digital World (2015) was shortlisted for The Samuel Johnson Prize, won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Prize, and was named the Sunday Times 'Thought Book of the Year'. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, Guardian, Financial Times, New Statesman, Boston Globe, Wired and the London Review of Books. In 2011 he was named a 'New Generation Thinker' by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the BBC, and now regularly writes and presents documentaries for BBC radio, as well as presenting and contributing to the Radio 3 arts and ideas programme, Free Thinking. He is a Lecturer in Writing at New York University in London, where he lives.
"In this sequence of almost Montaigne-like essays, blending observation, philosophical inquiry and a highly literary sort of layering, Scott exquisitely articulates not what the digital world can do but how it feels to engage with it. He resists the usual polarisation of debate, capturing instead our "breathless" mix of excitement and unease. Scott's writing is exceptionally fine, and his cultural range extravagant. Describing YouTube's "enveloping of the past", he moves from Ian McEwan to Katie Price. Pondering the phenomenon of digital detox, he recalls EM?Forster's yearning for the greenwood. He flits from Google's Desert View to early Christian hermits, from Airbnb to late-Victorian science fiction - and it is always insightful, never pretentious. An astounding debut." Sunday Times, Thought Book of the Year "Scott's references are admirably broad, spanning high and low culture in a layered and complex (and Samuel Johnson shortlisted) account." Financial Times, Books of the Year "Clever, allusive, with a capacious sense of humour, the book sizzles with intelligence ... brilliant." New York Times "Scott is an ideal person to tackle this subject... Moreover, he is both a creative writer and a perceptive literary critic, who leavens his text with some mercurially brilliant turns of phrase and poetic coinages, while at the same time stiffening it up with huge dollops of literary explication and quotation... with his joyful phrase-making and sharp eye for the follies and absurdities of wired life, Scott would be the perfect investigator to report back on what it feels like to be... uploaded." -- Will Self Guardian "A book that delivers a nourishing counterpoint to the ephemerality of the digital age. Scott offers layered and complex thought in a style that is elegant and artful. He has worked long and hard, you imagine, at these thoughts and words - and to prove that it can still be done, despite the glow of distraction emanating from a smartphone inevitably sitting on a table nearby, is worth celebrating in itself." -- Sophie Elmhirst Financial Times
Short-listed for Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2015
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