A fascinating and thought-provoking journey into the problematic world of our digital afterlife.
Seen any ghosts on your smartphone lately?
As we're compelled to capture, store and share more and more of our personal information, there's something we often forget. All that data doesn't just disappear when our physical bodies shuffle off this mortal coil. If the concept of remaining socially active after you're no longer breathing sounds crazy, you might want to get used to the idea. Digital afterlives are a natural consequence of the information age, a reality that barely anyone has prepared for - and that 'anyone' probably includes you.
In All the Ghosts in the Machine , psychologist Elaine Kasket sounds a clarion call to everyone who's never thought about death in the digital age. When someone's hyperconnected, hyperpersonal digital footprint is transformed into their lasting legacy, she asks, who is helped, who is hurt, and who's in charge? And why is now such a critical moment to take our heads out of the sand?
Weaving together personal, moving true stories and scientific research, All the Ghosts in the Machine takes you on a fascinating tour through the valley of the shadow of digital death. In the process, it will transform how you think about your life and your legacy, in a time when our technologies are tantalising us with fantasies of immortality.
About the Author
Elaine Kasket is a digital immigrant masquerading as a digital native, an American masquerading as a Brit, and a committed urbanite masquerading as a chicken farmer, but she is a genuine psychologist, writer, and public intellectual. A former principal lecturer in counselling psychology, she left formal academia behind to spend more time communicating to general audiences about the topics that most fascinate her.
When she isn't writing or speaking about the murky and weirdly compelling junctures where life, death and the digital meet, she provides psychological therapy, is a producer for the Mortified live storytelling project, tells tales on stage, and makes unsuccessful attempts at learning the banjo.
'All the Ghosts in the Machine is as charming and touching as it is astute and insightful. Kasket observes that, until recently, fame was the only way to guarantee that your identity would outlast your lifespan; today, however, billions of lives are preserved as digital remnants after death. Kasket explores how this mass preservation of life shapes our collective well-being, and whether we should attempt to control the data that capture our digital lives' - Adam Alter, New York Times bestselling author of Irresistible and Drunk Tank Pink, Professor of Marketing and Psychology at New York University's Stern School of Business, USA
'I read this book with the sinking realisation that my favourite response to a problem - "worry about it later" - is not really an option . . . Dr Kasket, who writes with a pleasingly self-deprecating wit and a determination to give every side of an argument a fair hearing, is as comfortable exploring the philosophical implications of digital legacies as she is on the legal and scientific nitty-gritty . . . this a very useful book, even perhaps for people who have never been near a computer in their lives. It may encourage you to think about how you can create an analogue version of a Facebook profile - a book of memories, perhaps - in case you are run over on your way to the Post Office. Curating the way you will live on in your loved ones' memories is always "digital" in one sense at least - it cocks a defiant middle finger at Death' - Jake Kerridge, Sunday Telegraph
'The writing is top-notch, and although written for non-specialists, it is never dumbed down and firmly speaks the language of psychology. For book lovers of psychology or popular science, this style of writing will be a familiar mix of personal anecdote and empiricism, with academic citations only when needed. This sense of balance in writing is rare and hard to achieve but was flawless. Kasket writes from her perspective, using a witty and engaging style and draws on her own family experiences and career as a Counselling Psychologist in the UK. It is impossible to read the book and not be concerned about what your digital legacy might be. The book does not politely ask permission to consider these issues; it demands the reader's attention to the future consequences of one's posthumous digital legacy' - Simon Bignell, The Psychologist
'Engagingly written and thoroughly researched, there is no better guide to how social media re-shape our experience of death and loss. Digital natives and digital immigrants alike will love this book' - Tony Walter, Professor at the Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath, UK
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 23rd April 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.5
Weight (kg): 0.4
Edition Number: 1