Shoshana Zuboff Surveillance Capitalism notes

Author: Zuboff, Shoshana
Title: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The fight for a human future at the new frontier of power
Publisher: Public Affairs, Hachette Book Group, New York
Year: 2019
Open access link:

page 22 (in the OA digital version):

Surveillance capitalism's products and services are not the objects of a value exchange. ... We are not surveillance capitalism's "customers". Although the saying tells us "It it's free, then you are the product," that is also incorrect. We are the sources of surveillance capitalism's crucial surplus: the objects of a technologically advanced and increasingly inescapable raw-material-extraction operation. Surveillance capitalism's actual customers are the enterprises that trade in its markets for future behavior.

In a modern capitalist society, technology was, is, and always will be an expression of the economic objectives that direct it into action. ...

We are not alone in falling prey to the technology illusion. It is an enduring theme of social thought, as old as the Trojan horse. Despite this, each generation stumbles into the quicksand of forgetting that technology is an expression of other interests. In modern times this means the interests of capital, and in our time it is surveillance capital that commands the digital milieu and directs our trajectory toward the future.


page 230 (in the OA digital version):

As industries far beyond the technology sector are lured by surveillance profits, the ferocity of the race to find and render experience as data has turned rendition into a global project of surveillance capital. .... as rendition operations move into the real world, seizing fresh unexpected chunks of human experience. ... All that is moist and alive must hand over its facts. There can be no shadow, no darkness. The unknown is intolerable. The solitary is forbidden.


page 336 (in the print edition):

[Carl] Friedrich was among the first scholars of totalitarianism to address this experience of improbability, writing in 1954 that "virtually no one before 1914 anticipated the course of development which has overtaken Western civilization since then... none of the outstanding scholars in history, law, and the social sciences discerned what was ahead... which culminated in totalitarianism. To this failure to foresee corresponds a difficulty in comprehending."

2023-12-19: reading paused at page 125 (book returned to library)
to-do list:

  • extract excerpts from the following pages and notes:
    • p.16: tech an expression of other interests
    • p.19: privatization of the vision of learning
    • p.33: individualization is not individualism
    • summarize notions of 1st and 2nd modernity
    • p.55: human invention
    • p.100: experience => behavior
    • p.101: regulatory role of the state
    • p. 562: footnote 40

2024-03-11: reading paused at page 386 (in Chapter 13) (book returned to library; Kindle edition purchased)
to-do list:

  • extract excerpts from following pages and notes:
    • p. 138 ff: dispossession
    • p. 155: maps created empire
    • p. 175: who decides and who decides who decides
    • p. 181: division of learning
    • p. 182 ff: people, processes, things are reinvented as information
    • p. 591: footnote 16
    • p. 193: psychological learning - institutional indifference
    • p. 203: guaranteed outcomes
    • p. 220: L. Winner
    • p. 221: the replacement of society
    • p. 222: footnote 64
    • p. 241: transforming "connection" -- unknown intolerable; solitary forbidden
    • p. 290: emotion observation to modification
    • p. 291: Sartre -- the will to will
    • p. 292: Weizenbaum
    • p. 304: economics of action and established law
    • p. 307: tele-stimulation / awareness / autonomy
    • pp. 329-332: on free will and more ...
    • Chapter 11 (in its entirety)
    • p. 341: neoliberal government regulation == tyranny
    • p. 352: instrumentarianism
    • p. 633: footnote 28
    • p. 358: failure to forsee <=> difficulty in comprehension
    • p. 375: the knowledge replacing freedom in proprietary
    • p. 379: ownership of the means of behavior modification
    • p. 381: human capabilities and self-understanding are required to sustain democratic society
    • p. 381: displacement of the will to will

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