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Summary

As the world around us increases in technological complexity, our understanding of it diminishes. Underlying this trend is a single idea: The belief that our existence is understandable through computation, and more data is enough to help us build a better world.

In reality, we are lost in a sea of information, increasingly divided by fundamentalism, simplistic narratives, conspiracy theories, and post-factual politics. Meanwhile, those in power use our lack of understanding to further their own interests. Despite the apparent accessibility of information, we're living in a new Dark Age.

From rogue financial systems to shopping algorithms, from artificial intelligence to state secrecy, we no longer understand how our world is governed or presented to us. The media is filled with unverifiable speculation, much of it generated by anonymous software, while companies dominate their employees through surveillance and the threat of automation.

In his brilliant new work, leading artist and writer James Bridle surveys the history of art, technology, and information systems and reveals the dark clouds that gather over our dreams of the digital sublime.

©2018 James Bridle (P)2019 Tantor

Critic reviews

"New Dark Age is among the most unsettling and illuminating books I've read about the Internet, which is to say that it is among the most unsettling and illuminating books I've read about contemporary life." (New Yorker)

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Fifth-form leftist tosh, narrated by a lunatic

There is an argument to be made here, but this certainly isn't it. Dreadful, whiny, moralising nonsense.

There are plenty of entertaining and cogent criticisms of modern obsession with data and technology, but you will find them elsewhere. Try Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Rory Sutherland, Michael Lewis, Dan Arielly - but this is infantile, paranoid and economically illiterate tosh. Not helped by a narrator who reads it like a cheap horror novel. I confess I was getting so irritated with the narrator and the tiresome righteousness that I sped it up to 150%, which made it even worse.

Before you buy, make sure you listen to the sample. And ba assured it gets more grating as you get an hour or two in.

If you like David Graeber's Bull###t Jobs - a similarly mediocre, whiny book that managed to mangle a perfectly sensible concept, you will love this. Everyone else, steer well clear.

4 people found this helpful

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Great book - mismatched voice

I have been waiting for this book, James Bridle being one of the contemporary thinkers and artists I hold in high esteem. The book doesn't disappoint (though I haven't finished yet, so detailed review later).
However, having heard his talks and many similar books, the narrator is very out of place and distracting for me. She must be a great narrator for fantasy books, but here it becomes hard to follow the thoughts of Bridle.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Robert L Day
  • 04-02-19

Good book, awful narration

The text is great but the narration is nearly unlistenable, worse than any book I’ve ever purchased through audible. The tone is horribly mismatched for the content. The narrator overemphasizes almost every word, it sounds as if they are doing an exaggerated impression of a newscaster through the entire book.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Ingmar Carlson
  • 22-01-19

Brilliant new work, dismally performed

I've had a hardcover copy of this book since Christmas, but my busy schedule this month hasn't given me much time to sit down with it. For that reason, I was very excited to see that an Audible version was set for release on January 22nd. As soon as I opened it up my excitement faded. I'm sorry, and there's isn't a particularly nice way to say this, but this performer's voice is so awkward and distracting that I can't hear past it to grasp the content. It's very disappointing, and I'm glad I used a credit for this instead of paying for it. I can't quite understand why publishers and/or Audible (not sure who's responsible, frankly) aren't more selective about the quality of performers and performances of their content.

8 people found this helpful

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  • MJ
  • 14-04-19

Difficult narration, book has its problems too

I was so interested in the subject/content of New Dark Age, I thought I could get past the narrator (who sounds a bit like Julia Sweeny's "Pat" character from early 90s SNL juiced up on Red Bull). The book's content did hold my attention over half-way through, but in the end, the narration killed it for me.

The book itself (which I ordered in hard copy) has issues too: endless run-on paragraphs, rambling from anecdote to anecdote, idea to idea, with no clear breaks, all of which are only made worse by the hokey narration. In another writer's/editor's hands -- Jaron Lanier comes to mind -- NDA could have been much clearer and accessible, even entertaining. Still recommended for the importance of the content, but don't expect an easy or enjoyable read/listen.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Karolina Bourou
  • 29-01-20

Terrible narration

Please consider re-releasing with different narrator. It’s an very interesting book and the narrator makes it sound like a children’s horror story. I can’t even finish listening to it. Extremely annoying.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Pen Name
  • 07-06-19

Narrator butchers an already mediocre book.

The narrator is not a good fit for the subject matter. I could not finish the book due to growing frustration from the narration.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Gustavo Reis
  • 30-08-21

Half empty glass

This is a dense book with a very pessimistic view of our future. Interesting to understand some of the big issues we have with our modernity.

Due to COVID, I believe this book would benefit from an update to talk about how humanity has been affected , from the drug development to social media spread of misinformation around the disease and vaccination.

Also, I believe that a conclusion chapter tying together all the subjects would be great. Even if it is just to wrap up the concepts presented earlier.

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  • Klayton Kelly
  • 15-05-21

Good and bad

Good book voiced by a terrible reader. Was a bit hard to not be distracted by the weirdly hyperemotionalized tone of the reader.

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  • Basem Aggad
  • 18-01-20

incredible account and masterfully motivated

It is hard to dismiss the arguements laid out in this book, jumping from one setting to the other to identify and give tangible meaning to the illusive yet growing feeling or perception that many have towards the developments of recent years, throttling mindlessly towards the unknown at best or inflicting irreparable damage while at it.

it was pure joy to hear the near artistic performance of the narrator capturing the highs and lows the author probably wanted the reader to rollercoaster through.

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  • Bizsoft
  • 19-09-19

Interesting but the narration sucks.

Good information. The narrator was overly dramatic and seemed to have had no idea what she was reading.

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  • None ya
  • 31-01-19

capitalism bad, feminism good, socialism is da way

author makes complaints about how people are oppressed by machines and corporations, it's very redundant

2 people found this helpful