10 February 2017 - 9:17 am

A Survival Handbook of the Digital Age- part 1

I am going to start a serialised blog in the new semester of 2017- A Survival Handbook of Digital Age. The main theme is to highlight the changing nature of the digital era and how we could catch up with it.

So, what is happening in the digital realm?

The answer is simple but a little bit scary. A step faster than the Artificial Intelligence, the social media platform has taken over the world.

How come? You might ask.

Well think about this; wake up in the morning; catch up with the latest news on Twitter; followed by a check of what is happening on Facebook; play a favorite song from Spotify while getting ready for the day; book an Uber car to the office; check your email; have a Skype meeting with business partner from the other side of the Atlantic; go back home and relax yourself while Netflixing a movie; Post a photo of a glass of wine and write ‘nite nite’ on Instagram.

See? You can’t escape from the social media platforms; they have deeply rooted in our mundane lives.

Here are some statistics published by visual capitalist showing the mega scale of popular platforms. I was very shocked when I first saw these statistics. I’ve never realised that these small apps have such a big presence and the most importantly, are able to collect enormous amounts of data.


And data is monetisable.

Some suggest that we are now in a big data society. Everything can be turned into data, and then, money. Wwwwait…. What? Ok, it is difficult to catch up with this ferociously developed Internet situation. Think about the advertisement you’ve seen when you are browsing Facebook, it may display a pair of shoes that you recently looked up on Google. In this case, your searching history, which is your data, is sold to commercial concerns by the platforms.

Many people, like me, feel these advertisements are rather invasive.  I consider my laptop as a private space but it is monitored all the time. That made me kind of angry but it then turned to completely overwhelmed when I read an article revealing that Uber is involved in city governance and is trying to turn the city into a platform for its data proliferation. Langdon Winner, philosopher of technology who tells the truth:

“The things we call technologies are ways of building order in our world”

This is it. The giant Internet cooperation quickly eroded every aspect of our lives. With the technology, they control the most valuable asset of the time- the data. We have to realise that the Internet is not only a tool anymore; social media is not only for communication and entertainment. Now it is about politics, power and a new form of labour that we have to fit in.

But how? Stay tuned for my next blog!

Extended reading:

Is Uber’s ultimate goal the privatization of city governance?


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  • About the author

    Liwen Zhang

    Hi everyone, my name is Liwen and I will be Enterprise Intern for 2016-2017. I'm from mainland China and love reading, traveling, studying(not really...haha) I'm interested in society issues like multiculturalism, poverty and education. I will be posting blogs relate to enterprise and if you find them interesting then please keep reading!