Want to win some new books?
Basic Books has partnered with PublicAffairs for the Digital Dystopia Sweepstakes! This set of books explores today’s technology—how we got here and where we’re going.
Enter our sweepstakes by December 6 for a chance to win a copy of both books below, and learn how we can center the human experience in technology to make a better future for ourselves, before it’s too late.
How games are being harnessed as instruments of exploitation—and what we can do about it
Warehouse workers pack boxes while a virtual dragon races across their screen. If they beat their colleagues, they get an award. If not, they can be fired. Uber presents exhausted drivers with challenges to keep them driving. China scores its citizens so they behave well, and games with in-app purchases use achievements to empty your wallet.
Points, badges, and leaderboards are creeping into every aspect of modern life. In You’ve Been Played, game designer Adrian Hon delivers a blistering takedown of how corporations, schools, and governments use games and gamification as tools for profit and coercion. These are games that we often have no choice but to play, where losing has heavy penalties. You’ve Been Played is a scathing indictment of a tech-driven world that wants to convince us that misery is fun, and a call to arms for anyone who hopes to preserve their dignity and autonomy.
In The Future Is Analog, David Sax points out that the onset of the pandemic instantly gave us the digital universe we’d spent so long anticipating. Instant communication, online shopping, virtual everything.
It didn’t take long to realize how awful it was to live in this promised future. We craved real experiences, relationships, and spaces and got back to real life as quickly and often as we could.
In chapters exploring work, school, religion, and more, this book asks pointed questions: Is our future inevitably digital? Can we reject the downsides of digital technology without rejecting change? Can we innovate not for the sake of productivity but for the good of our social and cultural lives? Can we build a future that serves us as humans, first and foremost?
This is a manifesto for a different kind of change. We can spend our creativity and money on building new gadgets—or we can spend them on new ways to be together and experience the world, to bake bread, and climb mountains. All we need is the clarity to choose which future we want.